The new standards
With the governments shifting targets on MEES and their 2050 target deal line of eliminating carbon emissions to almost zero, getting an A grade on EPC is going to become increasingly relevant. With the changing regulations around energy efficiency a lowering a commercial building’s carbon emissions is going to be a key target for landlords and businesses throughout England and Wales to future proof their investments. London’s Zero Carbon Pathway Tool cites EPCs on London buildings as the first port of call for identifying areas that are not currently energy efficient.
Here are some great ways in which a business can lower the carbon emission from their existing buildings, with minimal cost and investment and get a higher EPC rating in the process.
Have Plans, and Be Prepared
Having detailed plans for your commercial space will mean that the energy assessor can undertake most of the assessment remotely, saving both you and them a lot of time. Even the most detailed of plans can leave them with a few questions, however; that may require additional information or a site visit.
Be prepared to answer the assessor’s questions on all recent alterations, about the location of vents or serial numbers of air conditioning units. Show them your commitment to using and producing renewable energy. Having the information and documents at hand will not only save time but could also lower your energy rating.
Without evidence or data to the contrary, an energy assessor is obliged to use default numbers and figures while calculating carbon emissions. Having the data readily available will mean that the energy assessor can place the correct values in their software, lowering your commercial property’s carbon footprint. Knowing your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system inside out is essential for a getting a higher EPC grade.
How Lights Can Lighten CO2 Emissions
If you run a high-street shop or have an office in the centre of town, your building may not be blessed with the most natural of light sources and rely on the electronic lighting system. One way to cut down on carbon emissions is by having a lighting design plan that could open up the building’s windows to provide more natural light or introduce a lower number of light sources that provide a greater area of coverage. The government has a guideline of 7 Watts over a square metre for refurbished properties or fit-outs.
When you implement this light design, it is the ideal time to implement more environment-friendly systems of control by installing an occupancy sensor that can switch off lights when a room has been left unattended. Ensure the light fitting can also accommodate a LED bulb. LED bulbs use 20% of the energy of a normal bulb and will not only reflect in a lower carbon emission but a lower electric bill too.
Tweaking your Heating, Vents and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC)
Heat systems, vents, and air conditioning units are one of the biggest areas of CO2 production in a company. I’ve already underlined the importance of knowing the specification of systems to allow for a lower value in the assessor’s calculations. It is also important to have an update and modern system. If it is over ten years old, it is likely to impact your grade negatively. Making investing in a newer, more eco-friendly system a budget priority.
Incorporate Renewable Energy Systems
Install devices to generate renewable energy suitable for both the location and the nature of the business. Solar panels are a fantastic way to generate clean energy for business usage and depending on the level of usage and collection, a business can even sell energy back to a provider.
Transferring utility providers to a greener, more environmentally friendly provider of energy will also lower your carbon footprint.
Insulation, Insulation, Insulation.
Basically, insulate everything – the walls, attics, gaping doors – everything you can. Insulating a cavity wall can improve an EPC rating by five to ten points, loft insulations can improve it by ten to fifteen points and double glazing can increase by four points.
Even if you have insulated your attics and walls in the past, it is worth doubling checking to ensure your still fully compliant with the government’s guidelines. Recently the government’s attic insulation depth increased from 100mm to 270mm.
Know How EPC is Assessed
Some sites and information guides will suggest a business lowers their heat settings or installing a smart meter to monitor the energy usage of the building. Although this will lower a company’s energy usage and carbon emission it will not lower their EPC score. An energy assessor will evaluate a company on the physical capabilities of the building and not how energy is used. So, an assessor will be focused solely on things like the lighting and controls used in each zone, the fabric of the building and its thermal efficiency. It’s important to learn what you’ll be assessed.