What is a DSM EPC and do I need one?

DSM EPC stands for Dynamic System Model Energy Performance Certificate – not the easiest acronym but it can be very important. Although for most offices, shops and industrial units, a standard non-domestic EPC is sufficient, in some cases you may wish to look at a more comprehensive and detailed DSM EPC. In this blog we’ll discuss what the advantages of this type of EPC is, when you can get them done and how they differ from a standard EPC.

What is the difference between a standard and DSM EPC?

Non-domestic EPCs fall into 3 different categories based in the complexity of the job.

A level 3 EPC EPC is the most basic. This is usually carried out on small shops and offices, and industrial units. Something like 90% of all EPCs carried out will fall in this bracket.

Level 4 EPCs are for buildings with more complicated HVAC systems. This means properties with centralised air handling systems, like VAV systems in office blocks, or ones with fan coils. If you have anything other than standard electric heaters, a basic air conditioning system, or a simple boiler, then you may need to have a level 4 EPC.

Many assessors are qualified to do both of these types of EPC. They don’t actually differ in how they are carried out practically. The only real difference for a level 4 assessment is the fairly minor added complexity in identifying the HVAC system and getting hold of the right data in order to attain the best possible rating.

There is also a level 5 EPC, used for the most complex buildings. That means properties with the most complicated HVAC systems (such as demand controlled ventilation), those with multi-level atria, and those that are so large that standard modelling software cannot handle the data.

Level 5 EPCs are quite rare – most properties will not fall into his category, and therefore very few assessors are qualified to carry them out. Here at London-EPC we do have you covered for this, and you should give us a call if you think your property may need this type of EPC.

Level 5 EPCs require a DSM (Dynamic System Model). This is carried out by creating an actual 3D model of the building in a special piece of software, meaning that you can accurately represent even the most complex buildings and ensure they get the right EPC rating. You can carry out a DSM EPC on any building, even a level 3 property, but it is compulsory once you get to level 5.

Is it worth getting a DSM EPC for a level 3 or 4 building?

This brings us onto the question, is there any value in getting this type of EPC for a simple building? It is possible to do this, and some assessors will do it anyway depending on the type of software they use. Typically you will pay more for a DSM EPC because it takes a little more time to get them entered into the software, but they can get you to an improved rating in some instances as they give a more accurate representation of the building. We have also noticed that some contractors are required to get DSM EPCs on their projects as part of their contractual obligations.

We would not normally recommend a DSM EPC unless you have been requested to get one carried out, or if you fall into that level 5 category.

There are some additional advantages with DSM beyond carrying out an EPC. Once the model is entered into the software, a DSM can then be used for other purposes and is great for evaluating improvement measures.

How much do these EPCs cost?

Commercial EPCs are priced on an individual basis, so it is tricky to give exact pricing. As a rule of thumb, you should expect to pay at least double for a DSM over a standard EPC.