EU Referendum: What happens to the EPC?

Statement from Austin Baggett, Managing Director, National Energy Services:

As you will know, the EU Referendum is drawing near and on 23rd June we will all be able to cast our votes as to whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union. 

EPCs (including DECs) were introduced into the UK as a requirement under the EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings. A vote to leave the EU on 23rd June will therefore have implications for everyone who is involved with EPCs, from assessors through to accreditation schemes.

Like many of the issues that are affected by the outcome of the Referendum it is impossible to know exactly what the implications will be. The government does not have a plan of what will happen with EPCs in the event that Britain votes to leave the EU. However, we mustn’t forget that EPCs have been used as part of UK policies such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-In Tariffs for some years, and that the demand for EPCs is not just driven by EU regulations. The forthcoming Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for the private rented sector will use the EPC as the benchmark for performance. Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy also sets out long term targets which are based on EPC levels. We must also remember that the requirement to provide an energy rating of a home pre-dates EPCs by many years. The SAP rating was introduced into the 1995 building regulations and in 2000 an amendment to the building regulations required house builders to display the SAP energy rating to potential purchasers of new homes.

Further proof that EPCs are valued beyond an EU Directive came from the government’s own Bonfield Review which said in December 2015 that: “…it has been recognised that taking a holistic approach for property assessments before the installation of energy efficiency and renewable energy products is vital for the sector going forward”.

I believe that there will always be a need to undertake energy assessments and provide building owners and occupants with quality information about the specific measures they can take to reduce their energy consumption. There is strong case to make this information available at the important life stages of a building – upon construction, rental or sale. There is a long term future for energy ratings – their case has been proven. As an industry we need to work together to ensure that they evolve and are strengthened to reflect their changing use in their market. Nonetheless, a Brexit will cause uncertainty in all walks of life and undoubtedly for the EPC industry it would be safer to remain in the EU than to be outside.