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New energy certificate law mooted

The Government has been urged by an influential panel to force all non-residential buildings to have display energy certificates.

The Committee on Climate Change, an independent advisory body established under the Climate Change Act, included the measure in its Meeting Carbon Budgets report last week.

It advised a plan to “roll out DECs to all non-residential buildings by the end of the second budget period [2011-12”.

Current Government proposals involve requiring an energy performance certificate, which gives a theoretical idea of performance rather than a true picture.

Requiring DECs would put pressure on owners to make buildings more energy efficient, boosting demand for building work, particularly for m&e contractors.

Professor David Strong, chief executive of consultancy Inbuilt, welcomed the recommendation, saying it could signal a “major change in Government policy”.

Prof Strong has argued in the past that the Government’s policy on EPCs and DECs is muddled. Requiring EPCs is “easy”, he said, since they are needed when a building is sold or let.

“But it’s pointless from a market transformation point-of-view. Company directors only sit up and take notice when DECs come into play,” he said.

The report contained a host of recommendations to improve the energy performance of the UK’s building stock, such as replacing 12 million boilers with more efficient condensing boilers or other efficient new technologies by 2022.

It also recommended that energy companies help implement schemes to improve existing housing stock, and that there should be statutory instruments to encourage local authorities to participate.

In recommending a street-bystreet plan, it cast doubt on individual house plans and initiatives led by energy companies.

Research suggested that many would be unwilling to take up the loans involved with individual plans, while the public’s low level of trust in energy firms offering efficiency improvements made that approach unattractive.