Why property bosses want energy efficiency labels

As MPs prepare to debate the Energy Bill in the House of Commons leading figures from the property sector today called on the UK government to honor its commitments on energy efficiency ratings for buildings. 

Back in March under its ‘Carbon Plan’ the coalition said it was going to make Display Energy Certificates (DECs), which provide an A-G rating for actual energy use, mandatory for all buildings by October 2012. Currently they are only compulsory for public buildings such as schools and libraries. 

In an open letter sent to the Prime Minister and senior ministers, industry figures argue that, without legislation, those private property owners who opt to display their energy rating could be put at a disadvantaged and risk their reputations if their buildings have poor ratings.

But even if the government does make DECs compulsory in the private sector, will it have a big impact on the market? Last week the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published its latest survey on the global commercial property sector. It found that demand for office space - as well as retail and industrial - has surged in cities like London in the first quarter of the year as the financial services and support sectors look to expand on the back of an improving trading environment.

If demand continues to grow at such a rate, its hard to believe that a D instead of a B energy rating would make or break a deal. But, as Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council points out, energy labeling isn’t just a tenant issue. “It’s very simple – if you don’t know how much energy you are using, you can’t manage it. We’ve simply no idea how our buildings up and down the country are actually performing, so mandatory A-G ratings are the crucial first step in helping businesses understand and reduce their energy use.

Many in the private sector might not welcome mandatory DECs, but it might just open their eyes to the opportunities for low cost energy savings which would otherwise be missed. 

For the latest on the changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and DECs click here