Tough talking

Karen Fletcher

"At Ecobuild this year, representatives of the Better Buildings Partnership were making it known that clients are fed up to the back teeth of buildings that don’t deliver what they want – efficiency, maintainability, operational effectiveness. These weren’t just general moans, but a clear message that enough is enough. (See our News Analysis)

Time and again, the construction sector has said that clients must take the lead on efficiency and sustainability. Well, be careful what you wish for because the BBP is doing just that. With its Design for Performance programme, it’s looking in to ways that clients can demand – and get – energy efficient buildings that perform well over the long-term. And they’re not going to stand for excuses.

The BBP represents property professions who oversee £20 billions of property assets in the UK – and who advise on new-builds as well. So, their voices really do count. They’re tired of energy efficiency being regarded as the icing on the cake by designers and contractors, when it should be an essential ingredient.

“They ask us, ‘But did you ask for energy efficiency?’”, says Andy Stanton, infrastructure and sustainability manager of TfL, “and that’s just ridiculous.”

These are people who are looking above and beyond the requirements for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which come into force on the 1st April. To be frank, property professionals who are in the know, understand that an EPC has very little correlation with actual energy use, and that’s irritating them too.

The one thing to be said for MEES is that they provides a baseline for those who are lagging behind on the issues of building efficiency. The sort who even now may not be aware that next time they come to lease their F or G rated office space, they’re in for a bit of a nasty surprise.

The BBP says that EPCs and even BREEAM don’t offer them a way to express exactly what they want in terms of energy efficiency – something specific and measurable in the long-term. They favour the Australian NABERS approach (see our feature).

The real success of NABERS is that it not only created a market value for efficient buildings, but it also provides a common language for clients, tenants, designers and contractors. Given the current mood of frustration, finding a way to communicate better on this topic seems like a very good first step towards better outcomes on all sides."

Karen Fletcher

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