The EU Directive (Directive 2002/91/EC) on the energy performance of buildings came into effect progressively from 2003. The Directive required that the Member States strengthen their building regulations and introduce energy performance certification of buildings. Its implementation in the national legal framework of EU Member States remains an important part of the strategy to tackle climate change.
The current requirements are set out in the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (2012 Regulations), which came into effect on 9 January 2013 and the Building Regulations 2010.
What is an EPC?
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) looks broadly similar to the energy labels provided on many household appliances. Its purpose is to indicate how energy efficient building is. The EPC provides an energy efficiency rating from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is the least efficient. The EPC includes recommendations to help owners and occupiers to improve the energy efficiency of a building which include cost effective improvements, e.g. installation of double glazing, new doors and windows, external wall insulation, and external boiler flues.
Obtaining an EPC
Before a residential building is put on the market the seller or landlord must procure an EPC for the building if no valid EPC exists already for it. In the similar vein, an EPC must be obtained for commercial buildings as soon as a building is in the process for sale or rent. The energy performance indicator of the building as shown on the EPC must be stated in any advertisements in the commercial media. Failure to do so could result in a fine of £200 per advertisement.
Transactions which are not considered a sale or rent (and, therefore, do not require an EPC) include lease renewals or extensions, compulsory purchase orders, sales of shares in a company (where buildings remain in company ownership) and lease surrenders.
Buildings within the conservation area
Regulation 5(1)(a) of the 2012 Regulations provides that buildings as part of a designated environment or due to the fact of their special architectural or historical merit are exempt from the requirements to have EPC “insofar as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance”. On 11 December 2017, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published guidance on the Energy Performance Certificates for the marketing, construction, sale and let of residential and non-residential property. It clarifies that that buildings protected as part of a designated environment or because of their architectural historical merit can include listed buildings and buildings within a conservation area. This means that non-listed buildings in a conservation area also may fall within this exemption (the previous version of guidance had cast doubt on this).
However, the vague phrase “insofar as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance” gives rise to further uncertainty. This means that building owners will need to consider whether this will be the case for their property. If there is any doubt, building owners may wish to seek the advice of their local authority conservation officer.
The guidance can be obtained at the following URL links: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666184/A_guide_to_energy_performance_certificates_for_the_marketing__sale_and_let_of_dwellings.pdf