Friday, January 19, 2007

Momentum Update & EPBD

Hello There My Friends,

You will be pleased to learn that I received a message back from Rick Costello - I would ask each and everyone of you to lobby your local MP to effect this change please.

I also emailed all the top contacts at the NEA yesterday as its their bread and butter to lobby Government about fuel poverty related issues and such campaigns. I emailed Nick Palmer MP with his local NEA contact details for Nottingham (Nicky Swetnam).

I'm sorry to report that so far I have not had a single response or reply from the NEA despite emailing the issue to their CEO, Operations Director, PR Manager, Business Development Director and various local level support team members including Nicky, Julia and Lorraine.

I will push this hard - Rick needs everyone's help! Come on NEA make some noise !


Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have been researching various EPBD (European Parliament Building Directives) for dates for the introduction of the various certification requirements are as these appear to be only partly known at this stage. The EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) required on sale of domestic property will be introduced as part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) which will be mandatory from 1 June 2007. Indeed, since the UK Government decided that the home condition element of the HIP will not be required, at least in the short term, the EPC will be the HIP’s main focus in terms of stock condition data as far as energy efficiency is concerned.

Figure 4: Coming Soon in June – the proposed Energy Performance Certificate for the Home Information Pack.

The proposed EPC shows how the home rates compared to others on the familiar A to G energy rating scale first introduced for white goods in the UK. It also shows the buildings potential rating if efficiency measures were implemented and describes their cost and effectiveness. Interestingly, the certificate will also contain information on domestic scale renewable technologies such as photovoltaics and solar hot water. EPCs for non-domestic and rented sectors should follow similar lines.

With so much political capital riding on a successful introduction of the HIP it is very likely that requirements for EPCs when non domestic buildings are sold or when any kind of building is rented will take a back seat until the HIP is safely up and running. But time is running out. The deadline extension expires on the 1 January 2009. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the requirements for EPCs on rental should be in place some time in 2008.

Yvette Cooper - Eco Trooper

Certificates for all buildings when they are constructed, rented, sold and, in some cases, refurbished? That’s a lot of certificates; in the worst case scenario, the DCLG (or DECLOG as some love to call the Dept that was once the ODPM) Working Group (!) estimates that 450,000 EPCs will be needed in the non-domestic sector with a further 2.5 million in the domestic sector per annum.

Assuming that an assessor can produce one EPC every working day of the year results in an estimate of a minimum of 10,000 assessors required (thats 3,000 more than the Which? Report claimed in 2006). The DCLG estimates that 8,000 inspectors will be needed to deliver EPCs for domestic sale in England and Wales alone. Contrast this with the National Energy Foundation’s estimate of 2,500 trained home surveyors currently operating in the UK.

In the domestic rented sector it was hoped that the data already collected by registered social landlords in the form of stock condition and SAP surveys would mean that a further massive data gathering exercise to produce the EPCs would not be necessary. However, it has been found that in fact only a very small number of RSLs collect the right data to produce an EPC.

Clearly, thousands of people will have to become trained in energy assessment and will then have to pass the relevant exam to become an accredited energy inspector over the next year. Even already accredited SAP assessors will still have to pass the exam if they wish to issue EPCs.

Given that there are currently only 7 ABBE accredited training centres operating a limited number of courses and that the content of the final exams have still not been decided it seems unlikely that there will be sufficient assessors available to make the roll out of certification as smooth as Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Planning, must pray it will be.

I think you will recognise that anyone holding the relevant qualifications will have no shortage of work this summer!

Label Pulling Power

Mandatory energy labelling of white goods and boilers has transformed the energy efficiency of products manufactured in those sectors. In most appliance showrooms you’d now be hard pressed to find anything with less than a creditable ‘B’ rating whilst installing a ‘C’ rated boiler is now illegal other than in exceptional circumstances.

The overriding lesson from the experience of labelling white goods was that the development classification system (A to G) and a supporting label not only raises awareness of the relative energy performance of the products but also provides the basis for a whole suite of related measures such as procurement, specification and linkages to other policy measures.

The EPBD is attempting to bring about the same transformation of new buildings and, more importantly, existing buildings which is where the real problem lies. However, persuading premises managers, homeowners and landlords that they should invest thousands in energy efficiency measures so that their property achieves a C rather than a D will not be easy. And it is here that linking the rating on the EPC to other policy measures and initiatives will be particularly important.

A number of ideas are being considered. There is a lot of cross party political support for a bill which would link the rate of stamp duty to whether the homebuyer invested in energy efficiency measures. Those measures would be spelled out in the energy performance certificate. Unfortunately the bill was dropped from the legislative calendar because other issues were more pressing at the time. It is now waiting in the wings for a return - when will the fat lady sing I wonder?

Similarly, Yvette Cooper is keen to link EPCs with ‘green’ mortgage lenders and with energy suppliers who need to meet energy savings targets under the Energy Efficiency Commitment. Elsewhere, one local authority is trialling the linkage of council tax to efficiency rating. All these policy measures would encourage homeowners and home sellers to invest in efficiency.

Indeed during 2005 and 2006 Gritish Bass introduced a Council Tax mailout scheme where they would link up with Councils to place a BG flyer with information about energy efficiency measures available under EEC (aimed at those PG clients who were on Council Tax benefit one of the qualifying criteria for 100% funded Cavity Wall insulation and virgin loft insulation and I recall 200mm loft insulation top ups under Warmer Life). They also offered a reduction in a householders Council Tax if they were an Able To Pay client. Unfortunately in some cases BG neglected to inform the Councils that this element was included and the said Council partners were inundated with requests for discounts on their Council tax bills - I hope this process has now been smoothed out?!

In the Registered Social Landlord sector the average energy performance of the housing stock as reliably revealed by the certificates could be linked to funding opportunities or standards such as Decent Homes. A database of the energy ratings should also provide the basis for sustainable energy and affordable warmth strategies.

In the non-domestic sector it would also be simple to imagine Asset Managers implementing internal sustainability policies which, for example, ruled out renting or leasing inefficient buildings. Consequently, building owners would strive improve the energy performance of their buildings to make them more attractive to potential tenants.

As a result of the EPBD there is potential for a web of new policy and incentives to drive up efficiency in our building stock. Expect plenty more from Brussels and Westminster but also from the public for whom bolting a wind turbine to the redundant chimney stack (with related planning permission of course) and investing in solar PV or solar thermal and the remaining "traditional" energy efficiency measures like cavity wall and loft insulation will suddenly start to make a lot more sense. A perfect juxtaposition of the succession of technology?

Make Good Choices People - enjoy your weekend and hope that your homes have withstood the fierce winds - we lost some ridge tiles but considering people have been killed as a result of storms we have been very fortunate. Joe Simpson (our guardian Angel) has been very active lately !!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


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