The UK government has set out on its road to Net Zero 2050 with its eyes firmly on reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment.
The updated Building Regulations (Parts L, F and O) in December 2021 set higher carbon reduction targets for homes and non-dwellings – with a clear warning that they will be set higher in 2025.
One aspect of the government’s plans is to use the lever of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) to get landlords moving on improvements in existing commercial buildings.
And the challenge is going to be significant.
Currently (as of March 2022) commercial buildings must achieve a minimum EPC rating of E before they can be leased.
This is known as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES).
Under the rules, an EPC certificate must be produced for a new tenant, or every ten years, whichever is sooner.
Getting certificates from an E to a C by 2026 and to a B by 2028 won’t be easy
Increasing the minimum
But the minimum ratings are on an upward trajectory across the next 6 years. Government is aiming to lift that minimum EPC requirement to a B by 2030.
As the consultation document states, the aim is to: “Deliver buildings which are cheaper to run for tenants, are responsible for fewer carbon emissions, and are closer to being able to accept low-carbon heating systems.”
Government calculates that the changes will mean that around one million non-domestic buildings will be improved by 2030.
Other sources put that figure much higher.
Research from property specialist Savills noted that in 2021, 87% of office stock had an EPC of less than B.
That amounts to more than 1 billion sq. ft of office space that could be below the future MEES requirement.
The property sector is therefore bracing itself for a round of refurbishments across the office rental sector.
But regulations are not the only driver behind the growing interest in energy efficient buildings.
Potential tenants are increasingly concerned about ESG (environmental, social, governance) issues, and this includes the impact their buildings have on the environment.
There was a time when the market questioned the value of a ‘green’ building - now there is little doubt that buildings which can demonstrate energy efficient, low-carbon operation are high value assets.
Corporate tenants are seeking out buildings that offer these credentials and are willing to pay for it.
For landlords looking to maintain the energy efficiency of their buildings in the long-term, a well-planned service and maintenance programme can help to ensure a building operates at optimum efficiency. Mitsubishi Electric’s Service and Maintenance team can keep building services equipment operating at its best from cradle-to-grave.
For example, our engineers can thoroughly appraise and inspect a system at the point of installation. They also use mobile commissioning logbooks so that information is easy to find at any point in the system’s life.
Building services equipment is often a big energy user within most commercial buildings and working with experts in this area creates opportunities to spot fluctuations in performance before they become problems.
Our remote monitoring services, for instance, can track performance through a cloud-based system – keeping track of equipment operation when our engineers aren’t there.
An office refurbishment is the chance to assess the performance of your building services, to ensure that they’re as energy efficient as possible. By working with a team that knows the systems inside-out, you can be sure of great performance in the long-term.
Ready for the changes ahead
Today’s commercial buildings must achieve a minimum EPC rating of E before they can be leased.
And a certificate is only produced for a new tenant (or every ten years, whichever is sooner).
But landlords should be aware: the minimum ratings are on an upward trajectory across the next 6 years and certificates will be required annually.
Lifting off from an E to a C by 2026 and a B by 2028 won’t be easy.
Mitsubishi Electric’s Service & Maintenance teams can help with advice on operating your HVAC systems at their most energy efficient – and ensuring your equipment is ready for the changes ahead.
Geoff Turton is commercial life cycle solutions director