Briefing to Lord Foster: Domestic Property Bill

Andrew Parkin, Stroma Certification’s Director of Energy Certification and Chair of PEPA briefs Lord Foster regarding the Domestic Property Energy Performance Bill. The briefing includes the evolution of RdSAP and SAP, the Industry taking responsibility for standards in the EPC and the recent success of MEES. You can read the briefing below in its entirety.

Stroma Certification’s Director of Energy Certification and Chair of PEPA briefs Lord Foster regarding the Domestic Property Energy Performance Bill. The briefing includes the evolution of RdSAP and SAP, the Industry taking responsibility for standards in the EPC and the recent success of MEES. You can read the briefing below in its entirety.

Briefing Paper to Lord Foster Re. Domestic Property (Energy Performance) Bill

Dear Lord Foster,

As Chair of PEPA, I am writing to you following our meeting last week to formulate an appraisal of the current Energy Efficiency Assessment industry and the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Prior to the launch of EPCs, as part of the HIP in 2007, the industry had been functioning outside of statute for a number of years. In fact, two of our founder members, Elmhurst Energy Systems and NHER (now part of Elmhurst) were directly involved with the creation of the RdSAP and SAP methodologies that are used today in domestic energy assessment and EPCs.

From the time of HIPs there exists research (from three separate organisations) that more than 15% of property purchasers who looked at the EPC prior to purchase made improvements to the property using their own financial resources. PEPA estimated at the time that this amounted to more than £650 million per annum in unsubsidised energy efficiency improvements.

Evolution RdSAP and SAP

SAP and RdSAP are designed to allow accurate, repeatable EPCs to be produced at reasonable costs and minimal disruption.

The methodologies have evolved over the last 13 years. RdSAP in particular, used for existing domestic dwelling assessments was a simplified assessment methodology upon release. A major change came in 2012 where all Domestic Energy Assessors had to complete an upskill course and exam in order to continue within the industry.

RdSAP now allows for a tremendous amount of detail and accuracy, depending on the available evidence at the time of the survey. From u-values, renewables, advanced modelling options, to the inclusion of innovative products.

This built in concept of continuous improvement in the methodologies, the Certificates and the function of an Energy Assessor to give important advice to members of the public, presents a great number of opportunities going forwards.

SAP has also seen three major revisions, in line with the building regulations. A further methodology is currently under consultation review, further underlining this drive for continuous improvement.

Industry Taking Responsibility

As part of an industrywide push to increase standards in the EPC, the methodology, training and ongoing quality assurance, the Energy Assessor Schemes began an ambitious plan of collaborative work. Primarily, the industry set up the Energy Assessor Scheme Oversight Board (EASOB). Made up of key representatives of each scheme, Government and other stakeholders, the group set about rewriting the Scheme Operating Requirements (SORs) which set the standards for how Schemes must operate, along with new surveillance processes. This was done with the oversight of Government but at no cost to the taxpayer. A model that the industry is keen to replicate for future key groups like Technical Steering and Conventions; their sole purpose is to ensure continuous improvement.

The new SORs resulted in enhanced requirements; and introduced risk-based auditing – Smart Auditing. This was launched a year ago, resulting in audits designed to find known areas of error and risk, so that the industry can realise the biggest possible benefit from the quality assurance process. EASOB is keen to work with the wider industry to ensure that forward momentum and future risks are identified and acted upon quickly.

Success of MEES

One recent success story is the introduction of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. Currently set at an E rating, which must be in place by April 1st for Domestic buildings and the same date in 2023 for Commercial buildings.

This has seen action taken by building owners to improve properties to the required standard or risk being unable to rent their asset. Indeed, evidence suggests that lenders are now unwilling to lend on substandard dwellings, which is driving further improvement activity.

I now believe that the EPC and the industry is better placed than ever to assist government to improve the UK’s building stock.

Andrew Parkin, Director of Energy Certification