Building for better ratings

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The Energy Act 2011 has generated its share of debate since it came into force with calls for greater clarity regarding the energy ratings of commercial rented property in particular. In 2012, the Government confirmed that it would unlawful to rent a business premises with an energy rating lower than E from 1 April 2018. Now, as wider economic recovery looks more assured, the incentive to invest in these buildings is growing. 

Today, a little over two years after the Energy Act 2011 received Royal Assent, approximately one fifth of the UK’s commercial building stock still has an energy rating of F or G, the lowest in the A – G rating system. Without the necessary energy efficiency improvements being made, none of these 400,000 buildings which are responsible for around 3.5% of UK total emissions, will be able to be rented legally from April 2018.

Compounding the problem is that a significant proportion of the UK commercial building stock is far from modern, presenting owners with a real challenge if they are to achieve an energy rating of E or above. The alternative however is simply to allow these buildings to sit empty – ultimately a far more costly choice.

In many cases, complete refurbishment is the most logical, and in the long term, cost effective option. That might include improving heating and cooling systems, installing new, better insulation and low-energy lighting. These are just some of the measures which will not only secure the long term viability of the property for commercial landlords, but reduce running costs in the short term as well as improving occupant comfort and productivity.

A collaborative approach will also provide the property owner with a broader range of benefits – working together, architects, QS teams and construction experts will more easily be able to propose the most cost effective refurbishment solution that will deliver the highest possible energy rating and return on investment.

And the sooner that work starts, the less likely it is that these properties will be standing empty in April 2018.