Delivering Energy Performance Certificates for buildings

Published:  12 February, 2008

Hywel
The skills for delivering Energy Performance Certificates — Hywel Davies.

Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings will not just happen from April. Hywel Davies explains how readers of Modern Building Services can become involved in assessing the energy performance of buildings and issuing certificates.

Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings have been a long time coming. It is five years since the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive was adopted. Building Regulations have adopted a whole building-energy model for the design of new buildings. Energy-efficiency measures and low-carbon and renewable technology, or LZCs, must be considered when larger buildings are refurbished. Dwellings now need Energy Performance Certificates whenever they are bought or sold, and will soon need them for letting.

From April 2008, commercial buildings will also need to have Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). Initially buildings over 10 000m2 will require them when built or prior to sale or rental. In July the requirements extend to cover all buildings over 2500 m2, and from October all buildings will need EPCs. The EPC assesses the potential energy performance of the building, independently of the operational regime.

October also sees the arrival of Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for buildings over 1000m2 owned or occupied by public authorities and those providing a public service. DECs assess the actual energy use in the building and provide a rating, on an annual basis. It is intended to motivate the operators of public-sector buildings to improve the energy performance of their premises.

How are the certificates produced?

EPCs are produced using SBEM or any other approved software package, including approved dynamic simulation modelling (DSM) packages, which are used for more complex buildings or those with certain special features that are not covered by SBEM. In addition to the EPC, there is also a software module which the assessor will use to produce a recommendations report providing guidance on measures that could be taken to improve the energy performance of the building. These are grouped into low- or no-cost measures and those needing a more significant investment.

If you want to be an energy assessor producing EPCs, you have to demonstrate your ability to produce a certificate using the approved software. One way to do this is to join either the Low Carbon Consultants Simulation strand of the register run by CIBSE Certification or the LCC Calculation strand of the register. There are three levels of energy assessor.

• Those using DSM will be accredited as energy assessors at level 5.
• Those using SBEM or its interfaces will be on the calculations register and accredited at level 3 (to certify buildings with simple services systems) or level 4.

All the major providers of simulation (DSM) and calculation (SBEM) software are participating in the CIBSE scheme.

Separate software is required to produce a DEC and the accompanying advisory report. Once this software is available from the Department of Communities & Local Government (CLG), CIBSE will provide training for DECs.

Who will produce the certificates?

The directive requires certificates to be produced by suitably qualified and/or accredited persons acting in an independent manner. In England and Wales ‘suitably qualified’ refers to an individual having either a qualification or demonstrating that they have approved prior experience and learning (APEL) equivalent to all the requirements of the relevant national occupational standards. These set out the skills and the knowledge that are required to produce both EPCs and DECs. They also cover the domestic market, and air-conditioning inspectors. [For more information, go to our web site (www.modbs.co.uk) and type ‘air-conditioning inspectors’ into the search field].

To be accredited, assessors must join an approved scheme. CIBSE Certification Ltd operates one of the first approved accreditation schemes for non domestic buildings for energy assessors. It is our goal to enable those who are currently low-carbon consultants to become accredited energy assessors, after some top-up training in the use of the approved software for producing certificates and in the administrative and practical details of preparing certificates and reports.

CIBSE Certification welcomes those who are not yet low-carbon consultants and also provides training and accreditation for suitable individuals who wish to become energy assessors.

CIBSE intends to add modules for those LCCs who are working on residential or mixed-use developments to be able to produce domestic energy-assessment certificates using approved SAP software as part of a wider portfolio of services. This scheme is not intended for individuals wishing to be domestic energy assessors only. Further consumer-protection measures are required for energy assessors who visit private dwellings.

As the appropriate arrangements are finalised with all relevant parties, we will be keeping low-carbon consultants and CIBSE members informed of progress.

The institution will also be producing guidance on the requirements for producing EPCs and DECs, to complement the guidance on air conditioning inspectors already published in July 2007 as ‘TM44: air conditioning inspections’. The CIBSE publications will cover EPCs, DECs and the benchmarks for the various categories of buildings. There will also be a guide to the whole issue of carbon calculations and energy certification for buildings. These various guides will be completed and published as soon as the relevant information is available from CLG and can be incorporated into the current drafts.

Watch www.cibse.org for more in- formation on the publications, and www.cibsecertification.co.uk for information on becoming a low-carbon consultant and an energy assessor.

Hywel Davies is technical director with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.



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