What is the EPBD?
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has been a fundamental part of EU energy legislation for almost 10 years. As our 46 year relationship with the EU prepares to wind down, we look at the effect it has had on the UK. Discussing whether or not it is worthwhile continuing to implement initiatives like TM44 inspections once we depart the European Union. Read more about EPBD here.
From a British perspective, our buildings are astounding feats of imagination, design and engineering. They draw in crowds from around the world who spend their holidays doing nothing more than gawking at our architectural splendor. Think the Houses of Parliament, Royal Pavilion and even the Gherkin. They all represent examples of our ability to create buildings that inspire.
As pleasing as our buildings can be to the eyes, they are not so pleasing to our environment. In fact, buildings account for approximately 40% of the total energy usage within the UK. This represents a significant roadblock in our attempt to cut emissions and reduce our impact on the natural world. In 2010 the EPBD was introduced to help reduce the energy consumption of our buildings and to help their occupants identify and understand ways in which UK buildings can be improved in order to make them more environmentally friendly.
Commercial EPCs and TM44 air conditioning inspections are just two examples of initiatives introduced as part of the EPBD, designed to help reduce the energy consumption of our buildings. Yet, many organisations still see them as no more than a box-ticking exercise. Potentially due to the fact they don’t fully understand the benefits such initiatives can offer.
TM44 air conditioning inspections are a legal requirement for buildings whereby the air con system has a combined cooling output of 12kW or more. Many businesses get the inspections completed for fear of monetary repercussions, without extracting the full value they offer. For example, each time an inspection is completed, they are accompanied by a comprehensive recommendation report. These give explicit details as to how the business can improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and make significant cuts to operating costs; an enhanced report even highlights exactly how much the company could save by implementing the recommendations.
Both the standard and enhance TM44 reports give detailed information which if implemented properly, could have a really positive impact on the UK environment. Though, the fact remains that often they will do nothing more than collect dust inside an office drawer until the next inspection. Unless businesses use initiatives such as the TM44 inspection as they were intended, buildings will remain inefficient and continue to emit high levels of carbon.
Some reports estimate that less than 5% of all commercial buildings in the UK are compliant with TM44 regulations, with some organisations outright refusing to take part until authorities force their hand.
What can we do?
The solution is simple. As individuals and organisations, we must accept accountability for our environmental impact and utilize initiatives like the TM44 inspections properly. Many organisations in the UK today use commitments to green initiatives as ways to boost their image. Many of these are the same organisations that don’t have a single TM44 certificate in place.
Local authorities must also hold building owners to account and ensure they follow the letter of the law. What’s the point of putting green policies in place if they aren’t going to Police them? Though, experience has taught many in the industry that these are often the worst culprits for non-compliance.
Perhaps public shaming is the way to go. Examples like the #metoo movement demonstrate that real change can only be implemented when brought into the public eye. It wouldn’t be difficult to do. After all, TM44 certificates are publicly accessible information. A quick visit to the NDEPC will allow you to check compliance for every commercial property in the UK.
So is it worth continuing with EPBD and TM44?
In short, yes. Despite the obvious problems highlighted above, the EPBD and TM44 regulations are a good idea. They offer a way for us to significantly reduce our emissions and to improve our energy efficiency. The problem doesn’t lie with the initiatives themselves. The issue is our willingness to spend the money necessary to reduce our environmental impact. As well as our ability and willingness to hold each other to account.
Only once Brexit is either delivered or scrapped will we know how the EPBD will be affected. Though, we live in hope that our proud nation will continue with it and build upon the foundations it has laid.
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