For some, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is merely a formality as part of selling or renting a property, but in some situations it can be quite valuable to show just how efficient your property is, and a higher rating could well make the property more attractive to potential owners or tenants.
This could be even more the case for commercial properties – leases tend to be over shorter terms, so there is less incentive to make big changes. If the property is already efficient it is going to be making savings for the occupier and those larger scale changes won’t be required – a big positive.
What makes an efficient property get a high rating?
If you are keen that your property gets the best rating possible, the key is information. The energy assessor will often rely on information that you are providing, otherwise they will just go on what they see in front of them on the day of the survey.
Now you can imagine if a surveyor turns up at a property with very little information, and just has what’s in front of him to go on, the rating is going to be fairly poor. The model of the heating and cooling systems might not be available, in which case very inefficient defaults will be assumed. The walls might be insulated, but because the insulation is hidden behind a stud wall, no insulation must be assumed. This lack of information can mean an otherwise efficient property gets an EPC with a very low rating. The general rule is that the defaults which have to be assumed when there is a lack of data are very poor.
What can you do to help your assessor maximise your rating?
So the assessor needs more information from you. What should you provide? Here are some of the key pieces of information you can look for:
- U-Values – If you have had insulation or new windows installed, you should hopefully have the u-values that have been reached. These values can be put straight into the software instead of using assumptions on the type of material. This will make for a much better Commercial EPC in the majority of scenarios.
- Model numbers – Try and find the model number of boilers or air con units. This will allow the surveyor to find their exact performance levels and enter them into the software. If the models are not known, very low performance defaults will be entered into the software.
- Light fittings – It is never easy to tell the exact type of light fitting without seeing a lamp up close. If possible, have a spare bulb from each of your light fixture types handy for the assessor on the day. This will help make sure they enter your high performance lighting rather than poor performance defaults.
This will give you some idea of the bits of information your assessor will require. The more detail you can provide, the better. The most important factor is probably the heating and cooling, as this could make the difference of 3 or 4 efficiency bands. Things like wall and roof construction can also make a fairly large impact, whilst other factors like controls and lighting will be smaller – only affecting the rating by a few points.
What must the assessor see to issue an EPC?
An energy assessor can issue a certificate without all of this information, but there are some things that they will need to see and they will be unable even to issue a certificate if they are unable to access the property to gather evidence – The assessor needs to access the majority of the property to take measurements, see things like your meters and your controls up close and assess the occupancy of the different zones in the building. In some cases, with shared heating systems, this might involve accessing other properties as well, so it is the customers responsibility to arrange this for the assessor before the site visit takes place.
It can also be the case that certain systems have not been installed as yet (in a fit out of a building shell for example). In this case, the assessor cannot issue an EPC until the system is in place, although they can produce a ‘model’ which will show your theoretical EPC rating once the installation takes place.
So with Commercial EPC’s it is essential that you provide all the information you can – if you want a decent rating that is!