Our built environment is currently undergoing some major policy reforms, set out within such documents as the Clean Growth Strategy, the Hackitt Review and the more recent EPC Call for Evidence to name but a few.
Each paper points to the same aspirational requirement, that the information held about our built assets is accurate, reliable, accessible and moreover, useful.
Specific to our industry, the EPC Call for Evidence is calling for the EPC to assume an elevated position within property transactions and potentially building improvement/alterations. Some of the changes that are currently being considered are;
Whilst none of these considerations have been decided, if the EPC is to be utilised in this manner, it is extremely important that all stakeholders have surety of the EPC’s accuracy.
To this end, a new SMART auditing regime is being introduced to all energy assessor strands, starting with DEA. This will help to ensure the EPC’s accuracy, revolutionising the industry and benefiting Assessor’s and building occupiers alike.
Compared to the old Scheme Operating Requirements (SORs), which targeted a random sample of EPC’s, the new surveillance process incorporates a risk-based approach. Specific rules that identify potential errors within an EPC’s data set will trigger an audit requirement. This will help to identify and replace defective EPC’s. Also, schemes will be able to analyse common or repeated mistakes and offer affected members support and remedial training.
This will serve to improve the perception of the EPC industry and unlock its full potential as a valued, informative process.
Stroma Certification will be publishing a full list of the smart audit rules, to ensure all members understand what the triggers for audits are, and by doing so, hope that the awareness of these rules will reduce the number of mistakes or errors made in these data areas. These rules will be updated regularly, in response to perceived risks in the industry or audit failure trends.
It is also worth noting that the new SOR reduces the regularity of which the periodic random audits will take place. Up until now, every DEA would receive at least one EPC audit every 3 months (quarterly), and then at a level of at least 1% for the year. The annual percentage is not changing, but DEAs will only receive 1 audit per year as a minimum if they lodge within a calendar year.
When comparing this year (old SOR) to next year’s audit volumes (new SOR); where an assessor doesn’t trigger a ‘smart audit rule’ or any extra percentage audits, they will receive at least three less audits in a calendar year. Stroma Certification feels that the new audit regime is much fairer than the wholly random process of the previous SOR.
Stroma Certification is also keen to point out that any failed audits will only result in a single follow-on audit and will be called on an EPC lodged after the feedback has been sent, allowing members to learn from failed audits. Where a smart audit fails, the single follow-on audit will be called ONLY if the assessor repeats the same mistake. If the assessor doesn’t repeat the mistake, they will not receive the follow-on audit. We believe that this will drastically reduce the amount of unnecessary extra audit by checking to see if the assessor is making repeated mistakes. If they aren’t, then the number of additional audits is reduced in line with the reduced risk.
Stroma Certification will be producing a specific technical bulletin about the changes to the SOR and what impact they have on auditing and assessor activity in the very near future… watch this space!
If you have any questions, please get in touch with our team at email@example.com or call on 01977 665 420 (Ext. 614).