If you are responsible for selling a commercial premises then getting, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is merely a formality as part of this process. There are instances however where it is quite valuable to show just how energy efficient the property actually is, and a higher rating could make potential tenants or new owner much happier.
In domestic properties the leases tend to be quite short unlike commercial properties where the lease periods are over a long-time, so there is an incentive to have good quality insulated properties that will keep energy costs down for the duration of the tenure. If the property is already energy efficient then large scale changes don’t have to be made. For example, LED lighting is always a quick win and even if the property fabric is well insulated, having the lighting fitted out could produce further benefits to the occupiers.
How does an EPC rating increase?
The Commercial EPC process is all about information – the more information that is available and entered into the software the more comprehensive the end output and the more accurate the EPC rating. The energy assessor will often rely on information that is provided by the current occupier or the building services manager, otherwise they will just go on what they see in front of them on the day of the survey.
When carrying out the Commercial EPC the surveyor will simply turn up to the property and record evidence physically witnessed on the day. If this information is the only data gathered and very little else provided then, the rating is going to be fairly poor. The model of the heating and cooling systems might not be available, in which case the default values will be assumed.
Where there is actual wall insulation (cavity or cladding), but because the insulation is hidden behind a stud wall or is cladded over with render then no insulation must be assumed. The bad news is that although great things may be in place (superb insulation, a great HVAC system, etc) with insufficient information the EPC rating is going to be very low. Having said all this; the assessor is carrying out the right process but is sometimes limited on what they can process.
Helping your assessor maximising the accuracy of the EPC
At the start of the process, the assessor will send out a pre-visit questionnaire, which should be a pretty comprehensive document. It will go into detail in what should you provide? Here are some of the key pieces of information that may be asked for:
Building fabric u-values
If you have had insulation or new windows installed, you should hopefully have the u-values information that has been provided by the manufacturer and/ or installer. These values can be put straight into the software instead of using assumptions that would otherwise just be the default. Lower u-values, mean better heat retention for the property and this should result in a better Commercial EPC rating in the majority of scenarios.
Model numbers for HVAC units
You will be asked for make and model numbers for heating, air-conditioning, heat recovery and ventilation units. These building services are the emitting elements within building and if the information about them is available, it should allow the surveyor to enter them into the software. If the models are unknown or there is a lack of information the default low performance values will be entered into the software.
As mentioned at the beginning of the blog, the lighting also makes an impact on the energy rating of the property. 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.
Hopefully this section was a clue on some of the information that the assessor requires. The more detail that is provided the more accurate the final output will be. The most important factors are the fabric, heating and cooling, and this could make the difference of 3 or 4 efficiency bands, whilst other factors like controls and lighting will be smaller – only affecting the rating by a few points.
What is the key information required to issue the EPC?
Interestingly the energy assessor can issue an EPC 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, including all the zones to take measurements. The assessor will need to see things like your meters and your controls up close and assess the type of occupancy to be assigned to each zone. Some HVAC systems might involve accessing parts of the property that will require facility management supervision and it is the customer’s responsibility to arrange this for the assessor before the site visit takes place.
For systems that have not been installed yet (in a fit out of a building shell for example) the assessor cannot issue an EPC until the system is in place – they can however produce a ‘model’ which will show your theoretical EPC rating once the installation takes place.
As you can see – absolutely vital to supply the best information you can if you want the best and most accurate rating on your Commercial EPC!
If you would like to have a quotation for a Commercial EPC then please get in touch and we should be able to help.