Birmingham industry is following the national trend of falling behind in Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) legislation, says Ellie Cooper, who has recently been appointed as senior carbon management consultant at Faithful+Gould.
Energy Performance Certificates are broadly similar to the labels now provided with household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines and their purpose is to provide tenants with information on the energy performance of a building. Until recent amendments to legislation by Communities and Local Government, all buildings when constructed, sold or rented required an EPC by 1 October 2008.
Now, any non-domestic building that was on the market before 1 October and remains on the market will need an EPC by 1 January 2009. If the building is sold or rented in the meantime, an EPC must be obtained as soon as practicable.
Public buildings over 1,000m2 will also have to show a Display Energy Certificate in a prominent area, showing a rating based on annual energy consumption.
However, according to Ellie, many owners will struggle to get their building assessed and issued with an EPC by the deadline, putting them at the risk of facing fines: "The deadline for building owners has been twice extended from April to October and now from October to January, but there are still too few qualified Energy Assessors available to meet industry demand because training schemes were not put in place in time."
Ellie worries that despite attempts to meet the January deadline, some clients will suffer as result of bad planning; "Unrealistic timescales for accrediting Energy Assessors means there will be a bottle-neck in demand and I fear that the backlog will cause property owners to be fined for not having an EPC. Worse still, there is a danger that there will be so much pressure on qualified Energy Assessors as they are inundated with requests, it could lead to unsuitably qualified or unprofessional services offered to the market with repercussions for the client."
Faithful+Gould is the first major consultancy to have entered into a contract for training its staff to provide commercial and public building EPCs in collaboration with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
"We've invested in training our building surveyors through the RICS accredited course so we can meet the standard required and offer our clients EPC services, but there is a real risk of bad press on what should be a welcome piece of legislation," says Ellie.