In the past 6 months, Stroma has received more complaints about EPCs than ever before. At face value, this suggests there is a problem, but it isn’t all negative. It shows that EPCs are becoming more and more important in the public eye, and with many different government-related schemes now utilizing the EPC, it is no longer just being used to cover a rental or sale transaction as was the original intention when EPCs were first introduced in 2007.
It is clear that people are taking more of a vested interest in their EPC rating, which places the energy certificates we produce under more scrutiny than ever. It is no surprise then that Schemes are receiving more complaints about EPCs and doing more investigations than in prior years.
In the majority of cases, EPC complaints can be dealt with by re-education of what an EPC is: the fact that there are a number of assumptions made in the calculation including occupancy, heating patterns, fuel prices, recommendations, etc. and it is ultimately an asset rating of the property. The fact remains that there is still a massive education piece required by the industry so that the general public has an understanding of the purpose of an EPC and how it is not necessarily an accurate reflection of how they use the property – the estimated yearly energy cost will probably not be correct as it’s an estimation of how much energy the average household would use, not using actual energy data!
All that being said, when we receive a complaint, we must follow our complaint process and adhere to the SORs, and we do take all complaints seriously; with EPCs being utilized by various government schemes related to funding, we do on occasion receive complaints of a serious nature: deliberate gamification or falsification of energy reports being one of the most serious.
In the past couple of weeks, Stroma has struck off several assessors (unrelated instances) for fraudulently producing EPCs. In all cases, there was a clear pattern of deliberately altering inputs in surveys to significantly alter the EPC rating. Please note that Stroma is well versed in investigating these matters and has highly sophisticated tools to help us identify instances where ratings are being artificially altered.
Increasingly though, it is third parties who are performing very sophisticated data analysis for the purposes of understating buildings, using the open data offered out by the government, who are uncovering these trends and issues. There would appear to be a groundswell of activity to weed out bad data and raise issues with government and schemes. Stroma is supportive of this – sunlight is the best disinfectant here.
For the vast majority of our assessors who continue to uphold the Stroma Energy Assessor Code of Conduct in our Scheme Handbook, just know that we are taking action against those that have the potential to discredit the good work you all do. To any assessor that may consider deliberately falsifying an EPC, this should serve as the only warning you need – it is considered a Major Transgression and is likely to result in immediate revocation from the scheme. Being struck off (revoked) is a permanent decision that prevents you from working as an energy assessor under Stroma and all other schemes.
With the microspore being held up against the EPC, with our industry being in the limelight for the first time in a long time, now is the time to shine and show that the EPC can be trusted. We cannot allow the actions of the few to harm the forward property and careers of the majority.
The influence and reputation of our industry are becoming more and more in the spotlight, and we have a collective responsibility to uphold the standards that we all agree to when producing energy certificates.