Commercial EPC Extension, is there a delay?

Hidden away amidst the depths of the legislation that came into force in October from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been a clause about Commercial Energy Performance Certificates (CEPC).

The DCLG Guidelines clause is out lined below:-

house for sale“Clarifying arrangements for the October roll-out for commercial buildings already on the market which will be similar to those put in place in April and July. This means that any non-domestic building on the market before 1st October and remaining on the market will need an EPC by 1st January at the latest. If it is sold or rented out in the meantime, an EPC must be commissioned and then handed over as soon as is practicable. This measure is intended to make it easier for owners and landlords to comply with the legislation, avoid market fluctuations and is in response to expectations from the industry.”

Rumours have abounded about delays in the final implementation of CEPCs due to a shortage of qualified Commercial Energy Assessors (CEA) for months. After all, the government continually delayed the full roll out of Home Information Packs and the Residential EPC due to a shortage of qualified Domestic Energy Assessors (DEA). It would seem there is a precedent for a delay and at first glance the clause seems to support that conclusion, but closer reading shows that it is far from the case.

Unlike what happened with the implementation of the Residential EPC the Commercial EPC has already been rolled out in stages throughout the year without delay despite the shortage of qualified assessors coming through. The guidelines for the 1st October show that the roll out has happened regardless. All Commercial buildings being constructed, sold, renovated, let or part let after this date need a Commercial EPC.

So is there a delay? The answer simply is no. The regulation covering CEPCs came into force on 1st October and there is now a legal requirement to have one as needed. What has happened with the clause is an acknowledgement that there are less Commercial Assessors qualified than needed. So any building requiring a CEPC after 1st October has until 1st January to actually provide one, even if it has been sold or tenanted in the interim period. All the clause has done is to ease the immediacy of being able to arrange a CEPC.

This does not mean that those needing a CEPC can afford to delay organising it. A Commercial EPC is a far more time and labour intensive process than a Residential EPC, which can be done in a matter of days. A CEPC could take weeks to organise and just as long to complete the inspection. With the clause clearly stating that anyone requiring one will need one by the 1st January 2009 it does not leave a lot of time to organise.

So what should you do if you need a Commercial Energy Performance Certificate after 1st October? The answer is very simple. You must act on your requirements now and start to get organised to provide the CEPC. The process is longer and you must start to act if you want to comply with the 1st January deadline. This is a complicated area and you should speak to experts in their field to get the correct advice on your requirement.

Written by Symon Silvester.


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18 Responses to “Commercial EPC Extension, is there a delay?”

  1. Excellent article. I’m hearing of upto 6 weeks being quoted by some assessors before they can get to a premises so clearly one needs to plan well ahead. Whether its true or not I do not know but it is rumoured that Land Registry will not register the transaction without the EPC.

  2. Hi John,

    Good to see you back. I have not heard about the land registry rumours you mention but that would be an interesting development.

  3. I have just commissioned a company to carry out EPC’s for 18 Industrial Units. Upon receipt of our order and the detailed information, they have advised that EPC’s are not required! These are unheated workshops with an office pod, which is heated with a panel heater. There view is that as the main area does not have a conditioned climate then no EPC is required. Does anyone concur with this view or think otherwise?

  4. Hi Eddie

    Reading your information given it is possible that they may need an EPC, or may not. The precise information from the guidelines for not needing a CEPC is:

    “• stand alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m2 that are not dwellings
    • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand (see glossary of terms for a detailed description).”

    The guidance then goes onto describe the criteria for Low Energy Demand as:

    “Buildings which are industrial sites and workshops with low energy demand. These include buildings, or parts of buildings designed to be used separately, whose purpose is to accommodate industrial activities in spaces where the air is not conditioned. Activities that would be covered include foundries, forging and other hot processes, chemical process, food and drinks packaging, heavy engineering and storage and warehouses where, in each case, the air in the space is not fully heated or cooled. Whilst not fully heated or cooled these cases may have some local conditioning appliances such a plaque or air heaters or air conditioners to serve people at work stations or refuges dispersed amongst and not separated from the industrial activities.
    Non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand include buildings, or parts of buildings designed to be used separately, that are heated for a few days each year to enable plants to germinate but are otherwise unheated.”

    Basically it boils down to what the purpose is of the building, heating systems and the sq m2. It may be that the office requires a CEPC and the industrial area doesn’t.

    I can’t really give you a clear answer from the information that you have given here, I can only give you the guidance that we rely on, that in some cases is still being practically clarified on a project by project basis.

    I would suggest that if you would like a second opinion, give me a call at Godwin and Ellis, and I will try to confirm if you actually need one or not.

    Symon

  5. Just a word of caution about EPBD guidelines. I have put a case to EPBD where I was given an answer that was diametrically opposed to that given to a colleague who asked the same question. In short EPBD staff do not even seem to know what is correct. Also they have a habit of putting a disclaimer in to there written responses that in effect means you cannot rely on their view to protect yourself from the law.

  6. Hi John

    I too have encountered this issue with the EPBD and frankly have had a bit of a very long argument with them on several subjects. They acknowledge that there are grey areas and that some sections need practical advise. But they refuse to issue clarification until some is forth coming from our old friends the DCLG.

    I know in one instance they have written asking for specific clarification and the DCLG has refused to issue it.

    Since the EPBD won’t give non clarified advice, they are suggesting speaking to specialist solicitors and then they are basically fobbing the problem off onto Accrediting bodies. I was directly advised to speak to Accrediting bodies since they are the ones who will cover us and protect us. So basically, do what the guidelines and EPBD tell you, but if you can’t get clarification, do what your accrediting body tells you is right.

    Everyone at the moment is frightened that their advice or interpretation will open the way to the first lawsuit. So that is why everyone is issuing disclaimers. Personally, when I speak to clients I stress that the advice we are giving them is based on the ‘latest interpretations of the guidelines’.

    If anyone out there is a specialist solicitor in Energy Performance Certificates or similar I, for one, would love to talk to you!

    Symon

  7. Further potential problems appear on the horizon as by January all Air Conditioning systems of 250KW or more must be inspected by a qualified assessor. Unfortunately ndepcregister.com does not show such assessors (or anything else worthwhile like postcode search). So far CIBSE have accredited 7 assessors and have another 45 in various stages of training as for the other 12 Accreditation Schemes who knows how many have they have accredited. Bearing in mind CIBSE account for around 50% of CEA’s then the others will,I guess, have between them a similar number to CIBSE. Any one any idea on what the cost of an air con inspection is likely to be?

  8. Symon/ Hip Consultant

    After October 31st the EPBD Helpline will no longer be providing assistance via the telephone but will continue to be available by e-mail for a further 6 months. This seems very shortsighted as it is not until January that Air Conditioning Assessments start to come into play. As it took them 8 weeks to reply my last e-mail I’m not filled with reassurance.

  9. Hi John,
    I concur with your thoughts with this issue for sure.

    The commercial area is filled with uncertainity amongst many including some assessors (which is rather concerning) though mainly by a large proportion of those who require a commercial EPC.

    By removing the phone line this can hardly help clarify ‘grey areas’ unless the email support is greatly improved. I am told that the EPBD helpline has been left open due to ‘popular demand’, though they reserve the right to close it as planned at any time.

  10. Jonathan Taylor Says:

    Hello all,

    The EPBD helpline is indeed sending people with queries straight to their accrediting bodies where possible and the whole EPBD implementation has left some companies without assessors or with assessors who are now over-worked trying to meet commitments.

    I work for a company called (name removed), offering complete energy-management services to a wide range of clients including government departments, FTSE-100 and blue chip organisations. Having delivered the majority of our clients’ certification obligations, we are now looking to join forces with property management / letting agencies to provide a reliable and cost-effective energy certification service.

    If anyone has an outstanding requirement for EPCs / DECs or would like to obtain quotes for next year’s DEC renewal, please email me at: (email removed)

  11. Hello Jonathon,

    You will see that we have removed your companies’ details from the above.

    Whilst we welcome comments from related industry professionals we can not allow ‘self promotion’ in the above manner.

    However, it is acceptable to leave your web address in the URL box underneath your name when submitting comments. You may well find our visitors click this link if your comments have been of interest to them.

  12. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  13. The delays at the begining were unfortunate, but the uncertain future in the industry is a much bigger concern. There are industries in the UK that are vocal, and those that the media regularly reports on, but I think that the lack of voice amongst EPC assessors is a crying shame. Many will be inconvencied if the law is changed when/if the Conservatives come in to power.

  14. Didnt know that 🙁

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