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Most property professionals want the lowest cost EPC survey

12 January 2009

A CIBSE survey reveals a growing awareness over the value of Energy Performance Certificate recommendations but recognition of the new requirement for Air Conditioning Inspections is very low.

While the majority of property professionals requiring commercial energy certificates are concerned with sourcing a low cost standard certificate, a growing number are asking for full surveys with the intention of implementing some or all of the accompanying recommendations, according to the results of a recent survey.

Awareness that the true value of the certificates is in the recommendations does appear to be growing as almost 30% of clients questioned said they commissioned detailed surveys from their Energy Assessors, 25% asked for costings of recommendations and 21% said they would go on to ask for implementation of recommendations.

The results, collated from two informal questionnaires carried out by The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), indicate that while more must be done to ensure recommendations are implemented and therefore carbon savings are achieved, energy certification has the potential to make a real difference.

John Field, a CIBSE Low Carbon Energy Assessor and Director of Power Efficiency Ltd, explained: “At this stage of Energy Performance Certification roll-out, if more than 20% of property professionals have progressed EPC and DEC improvement measures I would say that is extremely positive: effectively spurring a large swathe of energy improvements. Granted one would hope for a higher percentage eventually but the emphasis has understandably been on compliance and I believe there will be a gradual increase in focus on the rating and grade achieved and on ways to improve this. You have to measure before you can manage effectively.”

When questioned on the importance of energy certificates, over 50% of property professionals rated them as ‘very’ important, while almost 40% of Energy Assessors said that 50-75% of their clients were aware of commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

However, the survey did show some cause for concern as 82% of clients questioned only commissioned a standard certificate, backed up by the findings that 31% of the Energy Assessors polled felt that over 75% of their clients were looking for the lowest possible cost for a certificate without other considerations.

Levels of awareness over the need for Air Conditioning Inspections were also concerning, with 30% of Energy Assessors estimating that just 0-10% of their clients were aware of the requirements.

Jacqueline Balian, Managing Director of CIBSE Services Ltd, added: “The most valuable element of an energy performance certificate is the recommendations report. And it is the only way we have any hope of really reducing actual carbon emissions from buildings. CIBSE is therefore calling upon the Government to make implementation of the highest impact recommendations a requirement for any building which receives an F or G grade.”

The surveys also revealed that the gathering of accurate energy data is a major issue for both sides - 44% of clients said that collating the required information was the most difficult part of getting the certificate produced, while Energy Assessors rated obtaining correct energy data as one of the biggest challenges to producing both EPCs and DECs.

Confusion over the costs of certificate is high; when asked what they initially expected the certificate to cost, client responses ranged from £50 to £10,000. Equally, in answer to the question ‘what is the average cost for producing an EPC for a client’, the answers from the Energy Assessor revealed that costs for small buildings (under 2500m2) ranged from £300 - £5,000. For medium buildings (2,500 – 10,000m2) it was £750 - £10,000, and for large buildings (over 10,000m2) £900 - £10,000.

In terms of timings, 36% of properly professionals said the process of hiring an assessor to the production of the certificate took 2-4 weeks, with 30% taking 1-2 weeks, 27% over a month and 7 % less than a week.

And what advice would Energy Assessors give to potential clients to make the process run as smoothly as possible? Top of the list was to start collecting all energy data, floor plans and building information as far in advance as possible and to clarify just what they would like to get out of the process.

From January 4th 2009 nearly all aspects of the European energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) became a legal requirement, including a requirement to produce an EPC on the sale or rental of any building, a certificate showing energy used in all public buildings over 1,000 sq m (DEC) and regular examination of air conditioning systems over 250kW.

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