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Support and enforcement required for DEC success

A recent announcement from HVCA states that it is backing the call for wider use of display energy certificates (DECs) – but warns that the scheme will fail unless enforcement is also stepped up.

Its announcement follows the publication of a report from the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) entitled Carbon Reductions in Existing Non-Domestic Buildings, which sets out the case for extending the reach of DECs as the most practical way of highlighting potential energy and cost savings in commercial buildings.

The UKGBC wants DECs to be made mandatory for all non-domestic building occupiers – with a phased roll-out starting next year.

It also proposes a mandatory DEC scheme for multi-let buildings over 1,000 sq m, with landlords required to provide their tenants with energy data.

DECs have previously only been mandatory for public buildings, so an extension into the private sector would represent an ambitious shift in Government policy, says HVCA.

The association remains convinced that a robust compliance regime will be required if the new provisions are to have maximum effect.

“DECs are recognised as a useful and meaningful way of identifying the actual energy performance of buildings,” said HVCA president Martin Burton.

“However, the current completion rate is only around 30%. If we are now looking to extend this to all commercial buildings, there needs to be a serious increase in enforcement at local authority level.”

There is also a major shortage of suitably qualified energy assessors, even for the current scheme, he said.

“It is essential that, in attempting to widen this pool of experts, we don’t dilute the quality of the assessments that underpin DECs, or of the energy information given to building users,” Mr Burton concluded.

The report calls for a “soft start” to the introduction of non-domestic DECs to ease the administrative burden, and for a more automated approach to producing the certificates.

It is anticipated that the new wider scheme would begin during 2012, with building owners displaying their certificates from 2013.

The UKGBC believes that the proposed changes would be deliverable under the Energy Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

The full UKGBC report is available at www.ukgbc.org.