HVCA adds cautious support to extension of DEC scheme
The Heating & Ventilating Contractors’ Association has backed a call by the UK Green Building Council for the wider use of Display Energy Certificates, but warned that the scheme is bound to fail unless enforcement is also stepped up. A report from the UKGBC entitled ‘Carbon reductions in existing non-domestic buildings’ sets out the case for extending the reach of DECs as the most practical way of highlighting potential energy and cost savings in commercial buildings.
UKGBC wants DECs to be made mandatory for occupiers of all non-domestic buildings, with a phased roll-out starting in 2012. It is also proposing a mandatory DEC scheme for multi-let buildings over 1000 m2, with landlords required to provide their tenants with energy data. Until now DECs have only been mandatory for public buildings, so such an extension would represent an ambitious shift in Government policy.
However, HVCA is convinced that a robust compliance regime will be required if the new provisions are to have maximum effect. HVCA president Martin Burton comments, ‘DECs are recognised as a useful and meaningful way of identifying the actual energy performance of buildings. However, the current completion rate is only around 30%. If we are now looking to extend this to all commercial buildings, there needs to be a serious increase in enforcement at local-authority level.’
According to Martin Burton, there is a major shortage of suitably qualified energy assessors, even for the current scheme. He said, ‘It is essential that in attempting to widen this pool of experts, we don’t dilute the quality of assessments that underpin DECs or of the energy information given to building users.
The UKGBC report calls for a ‘soft start’ to the introduction of non-domestic DECs to ease the administrative burden and for a more automated approach to producing the certificates to contain costs. The UKGBC believes that the proposed changes would be deliverable under the Energy Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.