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EPC assessor firm calls for more rigour in testing

Scheme should be scrapped or improved unless professional standards maintained

The director of a consultancy firm specialising in environmental issues is calling on the Government to either scrap energy performance certificates or make the process for their production more robust.

David Symons of WSP Environmental argues that EPCs fail to address their key principle - that of raising energy performance in commercial buildings - and their production wastes money as the scheme is becoming increasingly devalued.

Mr Symons also called into question the volume, and quality of certificates generated.

Around 10,000 commercial EPCs are produced each month, which Symons says contain simple recommendations on energy performance improvements, at a cost to industry of £30m in 2009.

He said: “EPCs are being devalued as the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) guidance can be widely interpreted. This has resulted in varying assessment quality which has allowed a race to the bottom.

“EPCs were robust documents in 2008. Today many contractors are offering ever cheaper services that often fail to provide quality output or consistent recommendations.”

He continued: “EPCs should either be scrapped or made effective. As the industry is spending £30 million a year on an energy rating scheme, it is imperative that it is consistent, robust, and drives up energy efficiency. At the moment, the data gathered by EPC surveyors varies hugely.

“It is time for the DCLG to amend its guidance, make accreditation more robust and ensure that EPCs meet the original aim.”

To make EPCs more valuable, WSP believes DCLG’s guidance should include four additional items:

  1. Accreditation and registry bodies should maintain professional standards of surveyors. Specifically they should challenge the use of default values by assessors in EPC calculations as this is the quickest way to produce a cut price - but ineffective - certificate
  2. EPC modelling tools should be made more consistent, so the results are comparable
  3. The EPC register should be easily accessible and should be linked to the Land Registry
  4. Recommendations made in the EPC report should be forcibly implemented. This would encourage sensible recommendations, would provide value to a certificate, and would also systematically improve building performance.