What next to improve Energy Certificates?

Elmhurst is delighted to see the release of the long awaited response to the call for evidence on Energy Certificates. The government recognizes responses from a wide variety of stakeholders and the document certainly makes interesting reading.

The good news is, due to the delayed response, lots of the improvements requested have already taken place and there is now a clear action plan that we fully support and intend working with government on.

Further good news is, in reading back over the Elmhurst response back in 2018, we are very pleased to see the majority of our key points included in the action plan proposed by government.

The three key areas that Government want to improve are:

  • (Quality) Provide a trusted, accurate and reliable measure of a building’s energy performance
  • (Action) Engage consumers and supports action to reduce energy use in buildings
  • (Data) Enable consumers and third parties to access the data they need to make decisions

    Quality

    As Elmhurst members know, we have always, and continue to, advocate for energy assessments and for them being done in a quality assured way.  We see quality assurance as everything from qualifications, support, software, methodologies, ongoing CPD, news and information, as well as auditing, are part of the overall mix required to deliver quality assurance. We need to ensure that a closed feedback loop exists to go back and improve the areas that need improving whether this is conventions, methodologies, software, training, qualifications or support.

    The Government action plan wants to see the following;

    • Confidence that the Energy Certificates are right
    • Enforcement of compliance by lots more professionals and stakeholders
    • Sanctions for fraudulent practices
    • Evolution to move towards ‘metered’ energy

    We fully support all of the above. But we stress that it is absolutely vital that we do not head down the rabbit hole of ‘metered energy use is all that we need’ to ensure energy efficient buildings. Elmhurst has said time after time, that we need three bits of data to solve our buildings’ energy efficiency deficiencies: asset, occupation and meter.

    One without the other is blind. For too many years people criticised EPCs for not being their fuel bill! This misunderstanding needs to go. We need asset (RdSAP, SAP, SBEM) to understand the whole building, we need occupation (occupancy models) to understand the people in the asset and finally we need to get measured data to see how the asset is performing with the occupants in it. If all we have is metered data, we will not know what parts of the asset, or occupants, behaviour we need to improve.  

    Action

    For many external stakeholders, the Energy Certificate was a means to an end. We have always stood for helping people take the next steps in improving the energy efficiency of their building. We are delighted to see that the call for action is attempted to encourage and help people make improvements to their buildings. Producing a process that stopped at the Energy Certificate meant that we all felt frustrated and, for some external stakeholders, it was seen as a simple tick box exercise.

    We are therefore very pleased to see an intention to look at more trigger points, more policy engagement such as PRS/MEES, a review of reducing the 10 year lifespan. All the points in this section will hopefully lead to more energy efficient, warmer and healthier buildings.

    Data

    The world has changed since 2007 when the national registers first went live. The ability to use ‘big data’ is certainly surrounding us. We at Elmhurst again have long campaigned that the data stored shouldn’t be simply stored away and never seen the light of day again; it has to be used to improve information for consumers of those buildings!

    We are therefore again delighted to see the start of joined up thinking connecting Simple Energy Advice website, the Data Warehouse, Trust Mark etc. Using the data wisely so that people can understand the energy efficiency of their home or business and most importantly know what to do next. This vital step doesn’t just happen with opening up data, but fundamentally requires independent experts who are able to advice on what the right thing is to do that building for and on behalf of the occupants.

    The Each Home Counts review concluded this was essential, stop just sticking stuff into buildings because there is funding for it; firstly understand the building as an overall asset, throw in the people (occupancy) and let them decide the best approach for them. The opening up of data and connectivity and customer journey is absolutely paramount if we are to seriously improve buildings energy efficiency in the UK

    Conclusion

    Stuart Fairlie, Technical & Operations Director of Elmhurst, comments: “We fully support the response and we recognise all the issues raised, but it also shows that we all seem to be heading in a much better direction to drive real change to homes and buildings. We will continue to advocate for energy assessors, for energy certificates and we strive to ensure that they are valued more by consumers and are the foundation on what we use to allow us to meet our climate ambitions.

    It is great to see government acknowledging the importance of Energy Certificates within current and future policy and we want to make sure that we work with them. We look forward to the challenges ahead and we will keep making sure that the way to do it is pragmatic, achievable and works in practice, we know the lessons of the past and we must get it right moving forward.”


    For details of the response from Government see here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-performance-certificates-in-buildings-call-for-evidence

    For a copy of the Elmhurst response back in 2018 see here:

    https://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/elmhurst-responds-to-government-s-call-for-evidence-on-epcs


    Published: 02/10/20

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