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Energy Labels

15 November 2006

Matt Dickinson looks at the new regulations for the energy performance of buildings in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and explains its implications for FMs now and in the future

OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, facilities managers will find energy management and efficiency becomes an increasingly important part of their role. A number of environmental, political and economic factors mean that energy costs which were once regarded as insignificant, are now catching the attention of the boardroom and they will be looking for advice and guidance from the facilities team on how to keep costs down.

At the end of 2008, facilities managers will be faced with legislation that will introduce a new regime of metering, testing and inspection. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) comes into force in just over two years, and represents an effort by the European Union to reduce energy use in buildings. Surveys have shown that 40 per cent of Europe's energy is spent on heating, lighting, cooling and running homes and offices. The EU estimates that by 2010, we could save 22 per cent of the energy used in buildings.

The EPBD is not only about saving energy. It is a response to growing concerns about the security of European energy supplies. The EU will become increasingly dependent on external sources for energy. Forecasts show that by 2030, Europe will import 70 per cent of its energy. Efficient use of resources is a pressing political issue.

The Directive has to be included in the national laws of each member state. In the UK, aspects of the EPBD have already been introduced through the new Part L of the Building Regulations (which deals with conservation of energy in buildings) introduced earlier this year.

The new Part L requires that new buildings must produce around 30 per cent less carbon dioxide than those constructed under previous legislation. Designers must demonstrate, using computergenerated modelling techniques, that their proposed buildings use less energy and more sustainable technologies. The performance of existing buildings will also come under the spotlight with building owners/managers being required to monitor energy use and in some circumstances, to carry out environmental improvements to buildings that are being refurbished. It's a tough challenge, and one which the construction industry is only starting to get to grips with.

There are three key elements in the Directive which will affect the work of facilities managers:
....New minimum standards of energy use and performance in new and existing buildings.
....Energy certification of buildings.
....Regular inspection and testing of energy-using equipment by independent inspectors.

Building certification is probably the most controversial of these points. In theory, buildings will be rated in the same way as fridges and freezers. It's a policy which changed the market for large kitchen goods across Europe. These days all such products carry clear labels, and most manufacturers will only make products that reach an A rating. The owners and operators of public buildings will be required to display the energy performance certification in a prominent place.

A lot still has to be decided about the practicalities of building certification. A number of potential methods have been suggested and are being explored. What is clear though is that facilities managers will play a big part in this process, and much of the work will fall to them.

For the facilities manager, the process of rating a building will start with information gathering. For new buildings, this would be a relatively easy task. Information on questions such as building materials, insulation levels and age of boilers will be easy to find. In older buildings however, this will be much more difficult to locate. Do you know exactly what your building's made of? Do you have information about the types of heating, ventilation and lighting system.

Once a rating is achieved, and confirmed by independent assessors, the facilities manager will also receive a list of 'cost effective' measures to improve energy efficiency. There are still very few organisations today where green issues outweigh impact on the bottom line. However, a survey carried out in May 2006 by the Confederation for British Industry and international property advisors GVA Grimley LLP, showed that attitudes to energy efficiency are starting to change. Two thirds of those questioned said that they view energy efficiency as very important when looking at their property needs for the next five years. The main drivers to greater energy efficiency in the workplace in the next couple of years are seen as increasing energy costs and the Climate Change Levy. Interestingly, while the issuing of energy performance certificates for buildings wasn't seen as important in the next two years, it was regarded as significant in the longer term, impacting on the property market over the next decade. What is most significant is that 76 per cent of those questioned said that they would pay marginally or moderately more to occupy an energy efficient building. Also, a number of leaseholders would use energy costs and efficiency as part of their lease negotiation strategy.

The Government and bodies such as the Carbon Trust are still working out how to make a business case for energy certification of buildings. Clearly, there need to be some strong financial incentives. Carbon trading between businesses might be one way to encourage organisations to cut energy use. Reduced business rates for low energy offices might also be an added incentive. It will clearly take time for such issues to be agreed.

2008 may seem a long way off, but given the size of the task it is quite close. Forward thinking portfolio managers and facilities managers are already considering the implications of the new legislation and getting their heads around the type of procedures that will need to be set in place. In fact, BRE is already working with a number of organisations helping them to set up trial assessments and identify in advance what cost effective measures they can undertake to improve their buildings' ratings. Traditionally, the facilities manager has not been a powerful corporate figure. The EPBD may not propel FMs straight to the boardroom, but it will certainly raise their profile as contributors to the organisation's efficiency and public image.

The UK government wants to adopt a system of Asset Ratings for new buildings and at change of ownership/tenancy.
....Energy performance certificates will be produced when a building is constructed, sold or rented.
....Certificates will be valid for ten years.
....Asset ratings are modelled using data taken from existing buildings including information on construction materials and systems.
....Buildings over 1000m2 and occupied by public authorities or government-funded services will have to display their certificates publicly.
....Operational Ratings (based on metered energy data and building area) will be used to satisfy the requirement for display of certificates in public buildings. However, government is keen to encourage all organisations to put the certificates where they can be seen.
....A certificate will be accompanied by a report detailing the recommendations for cost-effective improvements of energy performance. The EU has not yet published exact guidance on a procedure for energy certification. However, there are some documents and information which offer help: CIBSE TM 22: Energy assessment and reporting method (; Energy consumption guides, Carbon Trust (; Detailed information on the EPBD (;Part L and EPBD seminars and training (

More info
CIBSE TM 22: Energy assessment and reporting method (
Energy consumption guides- Carbon Trust (
Detailed information on the EPBD (

....Matt Dickinson is Energy Performance Consultant at BRE

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