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Energy Performance Certificates in Preston, Lancashire
The Background to EPCs & Government Targets
Where did the legislation for the implementation of EPCs come from?
The Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto is an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
With other EU members, the United Kingdom ratified the protocol in May 2002 and has committed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (and five other greenhouse gases) to 92% of 7 990 levels by 2012. Failure to achieve the savings will result in a "fine" of additional emissions reductions relative to other countries in the next reduction period.
Following on from the Kyoto Protocol the EU Directive (2002) was developed. Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and Council on the energy performance of buildings came into force on 4 January 2006. Its purpose Is to raise awareness of energy use in buildings and it is intended to lead to substantial increases in investment in energy efficiency measures.
The directive requires each member state to introduce legislation to raise awareness by 4 January 2009 for both domestic and non-domestic buildings. The directive sets out its requirement in fifteen articles.
The two that affect DBAs are as follows:
Article 3: Adoption of a methodolgy
This requires every government to apply a methodology which calculates the energy 1 performance of buildings.
The methodology can be set either at national or regional level, it must be regularly updated and be easy to understand. It may include an indicator of the C02 emissions from the building.
Article 7: Energy performance certificates
Whenever a building is constructed, sold or rented out, a certificate detailing its energy performance must be made available. This can either be to the owner, or by the owner, to the prospective buyer or tenant.
No certificate may be older than 10 years.
For apartments or for units designed for separate use in blocks, it is possible for certificates to be based on either a common certification of the whole building, where a block has a common heating system, or upon the assessment of another representative apartment within the same block.
In order to facilitate comparisons between buildings, the energy performance certificate must include reference values, such as current legal standards and benchmarks. It also must include recommendations for the cost effective investments which can be undertaken in the building, and which will improve its energy performance.
Why do we need to energy rate buildings?
Climate change is becoming an increasing concern both in the UK and worldwide! During December 2009, the greatest gathering of world leaders met in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Summit, with 192 countries taking part and over 100 head of states.
It has been described by the Danish Prime Minister as being "An opportunity the world cannot afford to miss".
Levels of carbon dioxide (C02) in the atmosphere, which is one of the main causes of climate change, have risen by more than a third since the industrial revolution and are now rising faster than ever before. This has led to increased temperatures and some rather significant environmental changes:
- Ice caps retreating
- Arctic sea ice has thinned by 40%
- Global mean sea levels are rising by 1 - 2mm per year
- Global snow has decreased by 10% since the 1960's
- Increased use of the Thames Barrier from once every 2 years to 6 times per year over the past 5 years
- Weather related economic losses increased 10 fold over the last 40 years
In light of these concerns, the Government has committed to a target of a 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 from 1990 standards. But how?
In terms of C02 emissions, buildings are the biggest culprit in the UK, with domestic homes contributing more greenhouse gasses than other buildings. Nearly a third of all the C02 emissions from the UK are from the domestic house!
Energy ratings on homes provide a measure of the fuel cost and C02 emissions of a property, similar to the miles per gallon and exhaust emission figures for new cars. This is a Government approved methodology which will also make recommendations of how to reduce the C02 emissions of a building.
Even if you do not agree that C02 emissions cause climate change, reducing our society's dependence on fossil fuels can only be positive, both in terms of the environment and importantly our lifestyle.
More recent CLG documentation (Making better use of EPC data: Consultation, March 2010) shows that the Government is now proposing that EPCs could be used to target energy improvements in a number of additional ways:
The Heat and Energy Saving Strategy: a consultation (HESS)1 in February 2009 proposed the Government's approach for reducing carbon emissions from existing homes by 2050, setting ambitious milestones for:
- All houses to have cavity wall and loft insulation by 2015
- All homes to have received all available cost-effective measures by 2030
- Emissions from buildings to be as close to zero as possible by 2050
In line with these milestones, the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan (DECC, July 2009) commits to reducing annual emissions from residential buildings by 29 per cent by 2020 and to almost zero by 2050.
In response to the HESS consultation, Warm Homes, Greener Homes: A Strategy for Household Energy Management (2010) sets out detailed plans to 2020 to achieve these targets. This proposal will mean, as well as insulating all lofts and cavities where practicable by 2015, up to 7 million homes will receive an eco-upgrade, including major measures such as solid wall insulation or heat pumps.
With these ambitious targets to meet, the EPC plays a vital role in assisting the delivery of the above proposals:
Firstly, the Central Registers for EPCs collate nationwide data of the housing stock, measuring the current national C02 emissions, giving a measure for future records & tracking progress.
Secondly, the recommendations of the EPC will educate home owners on how improvements can benefit them most by reducing utility bills with the main aim of encouraging them to implement these recommendations.
For instance, spending perhaps 3000 on replacement double glazing might add only 4 SAP points, whereas spending that same amount of money elsewhere, such as a new boiler, might add 15 SAP points!"