Energy efficiency in our buildings is rarely as good as their designers planned. Globally non-domestic buildings account for more than 40% of energy consumption, so there’s plenty of scope for improvement. 

Minimum energy efficiency standards 

There are plans for stricter minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) requirements by 2030 for landlords of privately rented non-domestic properties across England and Wales. This is part of the government's commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and its clean growth strategy, published in 2017. 
 
By 2030 the government says it wants these properties to meet Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band B requirements. However, landlords will only be required to make energy efficiency improvements where savings on energy costs will pay for them within seven years; it’s known as the seven-year payback test
 
According to government estimates the EPC band B target could reduce UK emissions by the equivalent of half a million homes and save businesses up to £1billion per year in energy costs. Although a band C target has been suggested as an alternative, the government says this isn’t ambitious enough to reduce emissions and deliver energy savings. 
 

Energy efficiency requirements for non-domestic properties 

Landlords of non-domestic privately rented properties currently can’t grant new tenancies or extend or renew existing ones if their property has an EPC rating of F or G. From 1 April 2023 existing leases will also be included. 
 
So far it isn’t clear whether the new requirements will apply to all properties immediately in 2030 or whether there will be milestones along the way. As with the current arrangements, which were introduced in April 2018, it’s possible that new tenancies might have to meet the requirements first, followed by renewals and existing tenancies. 
 

Who will need to make energy efficiency improvements? 

More than eight out of 10 existing non-domestic buildings in England and Wales would need improvements to meet the EPC band B target. If the target was EPC band C, then around four out of 10 would be affected. The government estimates that almost two thirds of buildings should be able to achieve a band B rating, and 20% could reach a band C rating. 
 
Landlords will be responsible for the energy efficiency of their buildings although, in some cases, a tenant could fund the improvements at the start of their tenancy. For example, tenants in retail premises might need specific lighting, air conditioning and ventilation solutions. 
 

Options to improve energy efficiency 

The current approach looks mainly at the condition of buildings rather than their operational efficiency, but the government is considering the 'in-use' energy performance as well. 
 
There is no doubt that the government intends to go further and faster than ever on this issue. New developments and landlords planning refurbishments can take steps now to future-proof the energy efficiency of their buildings. 
 

New BACS guidance 

The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has released a new technical guide on ‘The Impact of Controls on the Energy Efficiency of Buildings’. 
 
There are international standards to assess the overall impact of building automation and controls (BACS) on the energy efficiency of buildings. 
 
The new guide is intended to help manufacturers and systems integrators understand the British Standard for BACS* and improve the energy performance of buildings. 
 
 
We are always happy to give advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of electrical installations in commercial properties, so please get in touch
 
*The guide focuses on British and European standards (BS EN 15232-1:2017) 
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