This month sees a significant change in energy assessments for non-domestic buildings that will impact EPC ratings with the introduction of version 6.1 of the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM). The modifications will have a significant impact on the way non-domestic properties are assessed and the EPC ratings achieved, so we asked managing director Michael Goodchild about some of the key changes and what they will mean for your business.
What is the government’s thinking behind these changes?
One of the key factors in this decision is that the existing regulations have long been outgrown and are no longer fit for purpose. Discussions around the changes have been going on for a long time – more than eight years, in fact – but the key driver recently has been the push towards meeting net zero targets.
What changes will client’s see in real terms?
The new version of the regulations will give a much more accurate picture of the carbon emissions of a business’ commercial properties, in comparison to the way power is produced UK-wide. Although it won’t necessarily benefit all properties, we believe that a large proportion will be positively affected.
In terms of what it means for us and the way we advise our clients, it will better place us in helping them achieve improved ratings in some of their more problematic properties, especially ones where it has been difficult or impossible to reach the desired rating due to a large reliance of electric heating.
Which types of energy usage will be most affected by the changes?
The regulation update will impact how all electrical installations are treated in a commercial EPC, with the biggest impact being on electric heaters.
While anything electrically powered – hot water tanks, lighting, ventilation, extracts – will be affected, electric heaters will be seen as outliers in terms of energy efficiency and rated accordingly. We will be advising clients on alternative heating methods where appropriate, moving away from any gas-fired heaters. No need to replace those electric radiators – as many people have previously needed to do to achieved the desired E rating or above.
How will this affect the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)?
There’s no doubt that there will be an impact on how MEES is advised on, and I think the true extent of this will only become apparent once the new regulations are in full swing. What we know for sure is that some properties may no longer be able to claim an exemption, as they may have done previously, especially if electrical heating was a factor.
When do the new standards come into place?
The updated methodology was introduced on 15th June 2022. We are already have a long list of properties to review with the aim of improving the EPC rating with little or no further building works involved for the landlord or tenant.
Will this change the way Survey Hub advises its clients?
We see the changes as an overwhelmingly positive step in the right direction. The updates are long overdue, and we have reviewed our advice to clients accordingly to ensure we’re delivering the best possible results.
We would encourage anyone involved in commercial property to take stock as now maybe the most opportune time to review the EPC ratings achieved by their portfolio.
If you have any questions about the regulation updates, please get in touch with our team.