Anyone who works with commercial buildings will have come across the EPBD at some point. For some it will have been a passing glance while reading. For others it will play a vital role in their day to day work activities.
Now more than ever the EPBD plays an increasingly important role in commercial building management. Moreover, environmental standards play a role in decision making at all stages of the building lifecycle. From initial conception and design, to construction, maintenance and even demolition.
This is due to a number of factors. Increased consumer demand for more sustainable buildings. High energy usage of commercial buildings. Government led carbon targets. These have all played a role in forcing the commercial property industry to improve and go greener. Additionally, the EPBD offers a degree of transparency which other industries don’t have. We have seen car makers, clothing brands and other industries found guilty of greenwashing. However, the EPBD offers a level of transparency that you can’t outwit. If you claim your building is the most efficient ever and it gets an E rated EPC, you can’t spin your way out of it. Everyone will know you are lying. That’s the great thing about the EPBD. It sets out the framework for energy efficient buildings and holds you to account.
The EPBD is a fantastic piece of legislation. A certain success story from our relationship with the European Union. Indeed, one that will continue to play a vital role in the commercial property sector in the UK for years to come. For that reason, this we aim to shine a light on the legislation and answer some of the most common questions below.
What Does EPBD Stand For?
It stands for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Essentially, it is a framework against which the energy efficiency of buildings are measured. It was first introduced back in 2003 and has since undergone a number of revisions to ensure it remains up to date.
What is its purpose?
As it became clearer that more needed to be done to tackle climate change, the EU decided commercial properties were one area that needed some help. This is unsurprising given that at one time, buildings used around 41% of all energy produced in the EU. Almost 10% higher than the next highest culprit; transport.
According to the European Commission the EPBD had 3 basic objectives:
- Achieve a highly energy efficient and decarbonized building stock by 2050
- Create a stable environment for investment decisions
- Enable consumers and businesses to make more informed choices to save energy and money
The EU hoped that by implementing a broad framework made up of a range of policies and initiatives, they could encourage every member state to work together to achieve a common goal. Moreover, it was hoped that the EPBD would help the EU to achieve its Kyoto Protocol commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8%.
What Measures are Included to Help Improve Energy Efficiency?
The EPBD includes a number of measures, designed to improve the efficiency of current building stock. Additionally, new buildings must meet stricter criteria. Some of these measures include:
Also known as EPC’s. A building needs one whenever it is sold or rented. Their purpose is to demonstrate how energy efficient a property is and identify ways in which this can be improved. They run on a scale rating from A-G and are a legal requirement.
They are required at least once every 5 years for properties with air conditioning systems. However, not all buildings need to have a TM44 done. The combined cooling output must be equal to or exceed 12kw in order to meet the requirements. Air conditioning inspections are also a legal requirement and failure to have a valid certificate in place if your property meets the threshold can lead to monetary fines.
Also known as DEC’s. They are a legal requirement for most public buildings. They show the energy performance of public buildings and are required when a building:
-Is at least partially occupied by a public entity (Council, College, School, NHS etc.)
-Has a total floor area of 250m2 or more
-Is frequently visited by the public
The DEC displays a buildings rating on a scale from A-G, much like the EPC does. Additionally, every DEC comes with an advisory report. This highlights changes that can be made to improve a buildings rating and is valid for 7 years. However, the certificate needs to be renewed annually.
In addition to the above, other EPBD initiatives include:
-Promotion of smart technology usage (i.e BMS systems)
-Establishment of long term renovation strategies which focus on de-carbonization
-Establishment of minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings
What Effect Has the EPBD Had?
The impact of the EPBD and the associated measures has been fairly successful. It has certainly improved the energy standards for new building construction. It has also got existing building owners to understand how energy efficient their buildings currently are and helped them understand how to improve it.
Exactly how much energy efficiency has been improved across commercial property throughout the EU is difficult to put an exact figure on. But by the European Commissions own admission, 75% of current commercial building stock in the EU is still inefficient. This suggests that the impact on a large scale has been widely ineffective considering the legislation has been in place since the early 2000’s.
This could be due to the fact that whilst the EPBD provides a framework for countries to work by, implementation of the initiatives is the responsibility of the country itself. Here in the UK we have taken extra steps to ensure the initiatives work. Such as preventing the re-letting or selling of properties with an EPC rating of F or G. This has forced building owners to implement changes that improve the efficiency of their buildings. Other countries have not necessarily been as keen to do the same.
However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement here in the UK either. For example, though TM44 legislation has been around for over 10 years, it is estimated that less than 20% of UK properties are compliant. Even the ones that are have no legal obligation to implement change following the air conditioning inspection.
If we are to actually make significant improvements to current building stock, as well as new build properties, there must be some legal obligation to do so.
What does the future of the EPBD look like?
It is difficult to say. Despite many of the EU countries making little progress the EU commission has increased its commitment. The new target for greenhouse gas reduction is 55% by 2030 (Compared to 1990 levels).
If they are to achieve this target or come close, more must be done to ensure the EPBD and its initiatives are being implemented properly.
Whilst new building standards have improved significantly the main issue is improving the energy efficiency of current building stock. Most of which will certainly still be here in 2030.