In our recent Priva Insights blog, we looked in detail at the forthcoming changes to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) concerning commercial property in the UK. To briefly recap, a tightening of the rules from April 1 will see it become unlawful to continue to let applicable properties with a ‘sub-standard’ F or G rating Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – meaning that an E rating will be the minimum acceptable standard.
While there are some exemptions, it is likely that they will not apply to the majority of UK commercial buildings. So, for property owners and landlords who presently have sub-standard buildings, there is no time to waste in making all possible cost-effective improvements to energy efficiency – or face serious financial and reputational damage.
In reality, however, the imminent changes are only the start of what is set to be an ongoing programme of legally-enforced improvements to building energy efficiency over the next decade. A sense of what is to come was given in a December 2020 government white paper, Powering Our Net Zero Future, that outlines the intended strategy for transforming the UK’s energy landscape. Among other recommendations, the paper calls for all rented non-domestic buildings to achieve an EPC of C by 2027 – only four years away! – before attaining a C rating by 2030.
This should herald a significant wake-up call for everyone with a stake in the commercial property sector – not least because by current assessments, only 12% of registered commercial properties in the UK qualify for rating B. Even with increased remote and hybrid working, this surely represents a huge existential threat to property owners and landlords.
There is much to recommend an ‘early action’ stance even if your buildings do satisfy the new rules coming into effect in April, because there is a very good chance that – a few more years down the line – you will be facing problems with compliance. There is also the huge benefit to be gained in the meantime of having more energy efficient building systems, especially as energy prices remain high and unpredictable.
In terms of a single investment, it’s hard to surpass an investment in an effective building management system (BMS). By providing a single overarching control platform, a BMS makes it possible to monitor every facet of a building’s energy usage. This means it’s easy to locate those areas where more energy can be saved – for example, in unoccupied spaces – and also identify potential problems before they can have a serious impact on energy consumption and expenditure.
Meanwhile, with the emerging wave of cloud-based services, it’s possible to have a BMS that is more flexible – and therefore suitable for the new era of hybrid working. This is something that Priva has addressed with its acclaimed Priva Digital Services, which is a suite of cloud-based digital solutions designed for greater accessibility, scalability and resilience.
With next-generation building management technology in place, owners and landlords will be on the right track to satisfying all of the probable future MEES rules.