Existing EPCs risk not meeting 2018 efficiency standard

Opportunities exist for engineers to help property owners meet the MEES, says Mitch Layng

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) will prohibit a landlord from letting a ‘substandard property’ from 1 April 2018 and from continuing to let one from 1 April 2023. ‘Substandard’ is defined as failing to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard, set at an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E. So an F- or G-rated property – unless exempt or excluded – can be at risk from the MEES regulations.

Evidence suggests that many property owners, and those responsible for letting property, are unaware of the implications of having substandard premises – or, if they are aware, they do not have a strategy to ensure improvements are made or exemptions registered. In a survey by Property Week magazine, 32% of all respondents did not know what MEES was and how it would affect their business.

Even where the energy rating of a building is known, there can be an issue with the quality of the EPC, particularly if it was done in the early years – mainly pre-2011. This is because there was a lack of accredited assessors when EPCs were introduced in 2008. Default data was often used, and updating the software in line with current Building Regulations has meant a ratcheting up of standards.

Recent research by Arbnco – which re-ran 3,500 EPCs using current Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) software – found that 24% achieved a worse rating than the original EPC, with the proportion of buildings falling into the F and G bands increasing from 14% to 22%. The analysis was conducted on well-managed building stock, so there is potential to see a greater percentage drop in less well managed portfolios.

There is always a chance to improve the energy performance of a building when interventions are made – not just the operational performance, but also the asset performance (EPC) – but often these opportunities are missed. When smaller-scale refurbishments and plant replacements are undertaken, like-for-like substitutions are common – but this often results in only a small improvement in the EPC rating, or no improvement at all.

If modelling is done at the design stage to look at improvement options – including cost and return on investment, using more efficient equipment, and using detailed design data, rather than default or insufficient information, to model the EPC – evidence can be provided to ensure an informed decision is made about the best option for replacement. I am sure property owners would rather make improvements at design stage than at a later stage, often at increased cost and disruption.

There is an opportunity for building services engineers to engage with their clients and property owners to ensure the correct actions are taken at the right time.

Further reading:

  1. Guidance to regulations
  2. Arbnco EPC analysis,
  3. Property Investor Today
  4. Don’t get MEES wrong, CIBSE Journal
  • Mitch Layng is lead energy consultant at Layng Energy Solutions