What is Section 63?
Introduced in Scotland from the 1st of September 2016, the Section 63 legislature requires certain non-domestic buildings and properties to be assessed and improved on in terms of energy performance, and greenhouse gas emissions. This move was made to address the many commercial properties throughout Scotland that are running in a less than environmentally friendly way.
However, it doesn’t apply to all non-domestic properties, just those that hit a certain criteria. The section 63 action plans are required on top of Energy Performance Certificates, with penalty fines for failures to meet the stipulations set within, or failure to provide an action plan.
The fact is, keeping your property as energy efficient as possible saves whoever is heating the building a lot of money, as well as that you’ve got to consider your impact on the environment. If neither of those sway you, the fines and penalties for failure to comply with section 63 are strict and costly.
So Who Does This Affect?
Essentially, this means that properties that are non-domestic and over 1000m2 have to provide both an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and an action plan. The action plan must be provided upon sale and rental, and contains a 42 month time scale improvement plan for the property, with fines for those that don’t meet those improvements. Anyone who owns or lets a non-domestic property over 1000m2 must have an action plan. This is the case all over Scotland.
What Exactly is an Action Plan?
Action plans are similar to energy performance certificates in that they a legislature enforced certification that must be made available to all prospective buyers and tenants, as well as provided to the new tenant or owner. The action plan identifies points and areas in which the property can be improved to meet set energy and emissions targets and savings.
Action plans can only be produced by someone registered as a ‘Section 63 Advisor’, e.g. someone who’s demonstrated competence in the necessary assessment procedure, and understands the difficulties and nuances of providing the mandatory improvement advice to property owners. The process of generating the action plan involves the property owner finalising the improvement measures with the advisor, after they’ve done all the necessary calculations of targets and improvement techniques and measures. It’s not as involved as all that sounds though, it can be over and done with relatively quickly.
Once you’ve got the action plan for your property, the improvement targets and measures must be actualised within 42 months of the first plan. If the owner doesn’t want to complete the changes in the set 42 months, they can take the operational ratings route to defer improvements. To do this they have to lodge a Display Energy Certificate (DEC), which must be lodged with the property yearly right up until the improvements are made. Failure to do so has a range of costly penalties, including extensive fines and sanctions, which are best avoided.
Once the changes and improvement measures are fully implemented, a new Energy Performance Certificate and action plan have to be produced, which are again lodged with the Scottish Central Register, which gives evidence that the property owner has met the regulations and requirements for the property. Essentially, the Section 63 action plan basically necessitates continual rolling improvements in terms of energy efficiency and emissions for all commercial properties over 1000m2, with failure to do so penalised with fines, frequently in excess of over £1000. Getting yours done doesn’t have to be a huge hassle though, with the right advisor, an up to date action plan can be produced very quickly.