New Scheme Operating Requirement (SORs) a watershed moment.

Elmhurst is delighted to announce that a new version of the Scheme Operating Requirements (SORs) has been signed off by Government yesterday (26th March).

The SORs is the document which sets out the rules by which Accreditation Schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must operate when accrediting energy assessors for the production of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Display Energy Certificates (DECs). In turn, each Accreditation Scheme will advise its members what they need to do to comply with the Scheme’s rules. Each individual Scheme is audited annually by a third party auditor appointed by Government to ensure that the Scheme Operating Requirements have been implemented correctly.

The new structure has essentially split the SORs into two separate documents:

  • Government will ‘own’ the ‘Level 1’ documents which define what they ‘want’ accreditation schemes to do.
  • The ‘Level 2’ documents are ‘owned’ by the Industry and answers the ‘wants’ with the ‘hows’.

The Industry will work together through a new Energy Assessor Scheme Operating Board (EASOB) which will ensure that the Level 2 documents are kept up to date and are fit for purpose.

The first real headline is that Smart Auditing will now shortly become a reality for the Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) strand. After a successful short trial in 2016, this will be the first time that the SORs have allowed Schemes to use the ‘Smart Auditing’ concept moving forward. Essentially, this is very good news for competent energy assessors as a risk-based approach will be adopted for audit selection. In essence, rather than the audit selection being entirely random, there will now be a mix of both random and Smart Audits with the latter targeting EPCs which are deemed to be at a higher risk of being incorrect. The good news is that this will not result in an increase in the volume of audits for members, but the focus of the audits will be on EPCs which present a greater risk of potential errors.

Scheme Operating Requirements are, as the name suggests, requirements/rules which scheme operators such as Elmhurst must comply. For member’s nothing changes immediately and individual schemes will set their own implementation timescales, within the 1st September 2018 deadline. However being instrumental in their re-writing, Elmhurst is ideally placed to analyse any changes required and communicate these out to members. In reality, the requirements have not changed overall (with the exception of the introduction of Smart Auditing) but a new framework, with clear lines of ownership between Government and Industry, has finally been agreed.

Stuart Fairlie, Technical Director for Elmhurst, comments “This is great news which has come at the end of a long period of hard work by both Government and the Industry. The new framework will be more flexible and will give Industry the ability to ensure that the quality of EPCs gets better and better. There should be no noticeable changes for members but, vitally, it gives our Industry the ability to fine tune the rules moving forward to ensure that EPCs continue to be fit for purpose. This is essential as the Clean Growth Strategy has determined that EPCs are at the heart of Government policy moving forward.”

Article Published: 27th March 2018

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