With Brexit just around the corner and a deal yet to be made, individuals and businesses across the UK feel uncertain about what the future holds, especially when it comes to legislation. Currently, there is legislation which outlines the target energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings, part of which is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Introduced by the EU back in August 2007, the EPC is one of the tools which can help our buildings become more eco-friendly and reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible. However, what will happen when Brexit goes ahead and we’re no longer members of the European Union? Will the EPC still be a legal requirement? Will current targets still be in place? Let’s take a closer look.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An Energy Performance Certificate is a rating that tells you how energy efficient and environmentally friendly your domestic or commercial property is. It’s also a legal requirement if you are building, selling, or renting a property in the UK and is subject to certain standards.
To calculate an EPC, a qualified assessor will visit your property and carry out a non-invasive inspection. To calculate your EPC band, the assessor will look at factors such as usable space, wall and loft insulation, and heating and air conditioning.
The bands are calculated on a sliding scale from A to G, with ‘A’ representing the most energy-efficient and ‘G’ representing the least. The certificate also uses a colour-coded system for ease of reference. The most energy-efficient properties will display a dark green band and the least efficient will display a red band.
The EPC certificate will primarily explain how energy efficient your building is and its environmental impact via CO2 emissions. It also explains how much you can expect to pay in fuel bills, how you can make changes to the property and improve your rating, and provides a summary of your property rating.
Unless you opt-out, your EPC rating will be entered into a public database which can be viewed by the general public.
Who sets energy performance regulations?
Until recently, energy performance regulations for buildings have been set by the EU. The EU requires that member countries write the new legislation into national law by 10th March 2020.
The UK did this in 2015 when it passed the Energy Efficiency Regulations setting out the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for domestic and non-domestic properties in England and Wales. Additionally, the UK also passed the Climate Change Act (2008) which requires the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions from buildings account for around 34% of the total rate. This makes improving the energy efficiency of buildings vital in our fight against climate change.
What is like to remain the same after Brexit?
With this in mind, it’s likely that we won’t see too many changes post-Brexit.
From the day we leave the EU, the Great Repeal Bill will help to ensure that the same rules and laws will continue to apply throughout the UK. As we’ve seen above, the UK also has its own climate change legislation including the Energy Efficiency Regulations and the Climate Change Act, which will continue to be in operation after Brexit.
What is likely to change?
As with any new era, it’s likely we will see minor changes
as further EU directives and legislation are converted into UK law. However, at
this stage, we can only speculate on the finer details of the changes. Having
said that, Brexit may provide the opportunity for the UK to lead the way in
green energy, lower carbon dioxide emissions and greater sustainability.
This was recently outlined “Leading on Clean Growth The Government Response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 Progress Report to Parliament – Reducing UK emissions” document. This also includes their plans to impose a minimum EPC band rating of B by 2030 for non-domestic rented properties.
The UK will also hold next year’s UN climate conference COP26 2020 which could encourage further improvements in climate legislation and energy efficiency ratings. It’s highly likely that Brexit will provide the UK for a greater degree of flexibility than in the past and allow the EPC rating system to become an even better weapon in the fight against climate change.
Taking all of this into account, any claims that Brexit could negatively impact energy efficiency legislation, or the EPC may cease to be in effect seem to be unfounded.
There remains much speculation regarding what we can expect when Brexit finally does go ahead. However, the British government will continue to safeguard the interests of the UK public and the environment.
Whilst it’s likely that we will see changes to the legislation, this may be for the positive as the UK continues to lead the way in the fight against climate change. With this in mind, the EPC looks set to remain an impact weapon in the fight to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and become more energy efficient.