EPCs are similar to energy labels now found on new appliances such as washing machines and fridges: they indicate the energy efficiency of a building based on the standardised way that the building is used. The primary focus of the certificate is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO²) which is estimated to be released from the building. CO² ratings are shown in bandings A (excellent) to G (very poor). The performance of the building is benchmarked against current building standards.
EPCs also include a list of recommended cost effective improvements ("lower cost measures") which are designed to improve the building's energy efficiency, save occupiers money and ultimately help the environment. Two types of EPC have been approved for use in Scotland: one for dwellings and the second for all other building types.
In most cases, EPCs must be affixed to buildings in a place which is readily accessible, protected from weather and not easily obscured. A cupboard containing a gas or electricity meter, for example, would be an appropriate place. For public buildings over 1000m² the EPC must be displayed in a prominent place within the building's main entrance lobby or reception area.
Who is obliged to obtain an EPC and when?
When the construction of a new building is completed, the person responsible for the construction must obtain an EPC and provide it to the owner. In Scotland it has been a requirement for all newly constructed buildings to have an EPC since May 2007.
When existing buildings are sold, the building's owner is responsible for ensuring that a certificate is made available to all prospective purchasers. This will be a requirement from December 2008 for all dwellings and from January 2009 for all non-dwellings.
Where a building is to be let, the landlord is responsible for ensuring that a valid EPC is made available to all prospective tenants. This requirement will be introduced in January 2009.
Finally, and again from January 2009, EPCs must be displayed in all public buildings (e.g. schools, hospitals, universities) over 1000m².
How do I obtain an EPC?
In Scotland there is no specified qualification for energy assessors. The Scottish Building Standards Agency, the body charged with implementing EPCs in Scotland, has entered into protocols with professional organisations/ institutions whose members already have an understanding of the building and energy sectors e.g. CIBSE Scotland and RICS. Only members of protocol organisations may produce EPCs for existing buildings.
How long are EPCs valid for and how much do they cost?
An EPC will be valid for a period of 10 years. Costs will vary depending on factors such as size, location and age of the building; the protocol organisations will set their own fee scales.
Is it the same in England and Wales?
Yes and no. England and Wales are introducing EPCs which are broadly very similar to those being introduced in Scotland. However, there are some important differences between the two jurisdictions, most notably the timetable for implementation.
What should I be doing now?
Get your house in order. If you think you may be looking to sell or lease buildings post December 2008, start pulling together any information which may be relevant to the energy performance of those properties. EPCs are not documents which can be produced overnight.
Update January 2009
A three month period of grace (ending 31 March 2009) has recently been announced. This allows building owners a seven day period to react and commission an EPC when a prospective buyer or tenant shows interest in the property.
For further information or advice please contact:
Head of Planning & Environment
013 228 7283
0141 303 2377
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