Frequently Asked Questions

EPC’s: What are they?

An EPC is effectively a document that;

  1. Expresses the energy rating of the building (A [highest] – G [lowest] and a numerical value).
  2. Contains the total useful floor area, address of property.
  3. The name and address of the Energy Assessor.
  4. The date it was issued with a registered reference number.
  5. Is accompanied by a recommendation report with suggestions of how the energy rating could be improved in the short, medium and long term.
How can you help speed up the process?

Key items that will help with the preparation of the EPC and may help reduce the cost or the time it takes to produce.

The provision of any drawings of the property, if available.

Any detailed information of the services used, boiler type, cooling system etc. is also helpful.

How long is it valid for?

The EPC is valid for 10 years unless major modifications have been carried out to the property in that time period.

So are any buildings exempt?

The following buildings are exempt from a commercial EPC:

  • places of worship
  • Buildings that are intended to exist for less than two years
  • Agricultural buildings and some basic workshops with low energy demands.
  • Detached buildings of less than 50 sq m (550 sq ft) are exempt.
  • Where it can be demonstrated that a building is suitable for demolition or redevelopment it could be exempt – In this instance the property should have appropriate planning consents etc or the seller has reasonable grounds to believe that a prospective buyer intends to demolish the building.

A commercial EPC will not be required for a lease renewal or a lease extension or surrender or under a compulsory purchase order. ‘i.e. transactions that do not involve a new owner or tenant may not require an EPC’.

What about part-let space and Investment Sales?

Properties that are to be sold as an investment with tenants remaining in occupation will require a commercial EPC.

The situation with regard to part-let space for example a suite in an office block is complex. The general rule is ‘The EPC must reflect the accommodation on offer.’ It may be appropriate in the case of a multi-let office to obtain one EPC for the entire building and then use that for all the suites.

What about shops / public houses with residential above?

If the flat/maisonette is self-contained then a separate domestic EPC is required for the flat (which we can also supply).

If it is not self-contained then it will be included in the commercial EPC for the shop or pub.

What if the relevant person doesn’t supply the EPC?

If the relevant person or his/her agent does not provide an EPC upon inspection or with sales particulars then he/she is liable to a fine from the local weights and measures authority (trading standards officer). The officer can ‘require a person who appears to him to be subject to any duties under the regulations to produce a copy of a valid EPC at any time up until 6 months after the marketing took place’.

There are heavy fines for not providing one, for example a fine in the case of a commercial property is based on a number of criteria but is mainly calculated on 12.5% of rateable value between a minimum of £500 and a maximum of £5,000.

The regulations state that the officer can give a penalty charge notice to any person who has committed a breach of any duty under the various parts of the regulations, in particular, ‘the person giving the particulars’ and ‘the relevant person’.

Who can provide an EPC and what do they do?
  • A Commercial EPC can only be produced by a qualified Non Domestic Energy Assessor.
  • A Domestic EPC can only be produced by a qualified Home Inspector or Domestic Energy Assessor.

To qualify an energy assessor has to attend specific training courses, pass exams and carry out several monitored energy reports before he/she is accepted on a government approved accreditation scheme.

The basic standard for Domestic is a level 3 assessor who is qualified to provide EPC’s for an the majority of homes although there are exceptions beyond their expertise.

For commercial properties a level 3 assessor is qualified for an estimated 70% of commercial properties in England and Wales. A level 4 is required to assess properties with a more complex heating or cooling system, typically air conditioning whilst highly complex building such as shopping centres with say an atrium or other complex structures would require a level 5 assessor.

The commercial energy assessor works with a standard software system that is referred to as SBEM.

The domestic energy assessor produces certificates using a package known as rdSAP.

Display energy certificates are produced using software nkown as ORCALC.

The commercial energy assessor will record and assess the thermal efficiency of the fabric of the building the walls, roof, floors, windows, etc; and all the services including heating, lighting, cooling, ventilation, type of switches, etc.

The building is zoned in some detail based on activity and energy usage of that zone. This data is then entered into the software and the final assessment is made. A number of recommendations will be generated to which the assessor may add some of their own.

A similar process is followed for domestic although the zoning is not necessary as there are natural splits like, kitchens, bathrooms etc.

The main cost of the EPC reflects the level of skill and knowledge of an energy assessor and the time it takes to record all the relevant data and input it into the software to obtain the EPC.

Who is responsible for obtaining an EPC?

The regulations refer to a ‘relevant person’ as the person who is responsible for obtaining an EPC. The relevant person is referred to as either ‘the seller’ when a building is being sold or ‘the prospective landlord’ when a building is being rented out.

The regulations apply where the written particulars are given by the relevant person or another person on his behalf. The person giving the sales particulars must ensure that they include an asset rating of the building or attach an EPC to the sales particulars. The sales particulars are described as any document containing two of the following; a photograph of any room in the building, a floor plan, a description of the size of the rooms. This includes electronically provided information.

On an assignment, the perception is that the assignor or tenant selling his lease, is deemed the seller and is, therefore, the ‘relevant person’.

Why are we having EPC’s anyway?

The greenhouse gas caused by human activity is predominately carbon dioxide. It is estimated that 50% of all UK carbon emissions come from UK property.

The UK Government has agreed with The European Union Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to promote the improvement of energy performance of buildings within the Community. Each EU member state is required to transpose the Directive into law by the beginning of 2006 with a further three years being allowed for full implementation of specific articles. This gave the UK until the beginning of 2009.

The UK Government has established its commitment to addressing climate change through legal instruments.

These include the Kyoto Protocol, Energy White Paper, Building Regulations and Sustainable Development Strategy.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is another implemented in line with these commitments and is where EPC’s come in.