Commercial EPC’s

Since January 2009 it has been a legal requirement for anybody selling or leasing a commercial property in the United Kingdom to obtain a commercial Energy Performance Certificate (commercial EPC) before placing the property on the market. Many people have undergone the intensive, expensive, but relatively brief training programme to become UK Government accredited Commercial Energy Assessors and have set themselves up in business. Some of these people were already involved in commercial property in one way or another, as Chartered Surveyors, Architects or Building Services Engineers. Others were attracted to the new profession by unfounded claims of a shortage of Assessors or simply fell into it because they had been made redundant during the recession and ‘needed something to do’.In consequence, the market has become crowded and commercial EPC prices have fallen dramatically. Most people requiring an EPC remain only vaguely aware of the new requirements and continue to regard EPC’s as a ‘necessary evil’ or at best a ‘tick box requirement’ which their solicitor insists on. In consequence the main and sometimes the only consideration when procuring a commercial EPC is price. Unfortunately, this reality has been rather exacerbated by the requirement for Commercial Energy Assessors to have their EPC’s audited on a regular basis. This auditing requirement is supposed to ensure the quality and consistency of EPC provision, but whilst going some way to achieving this aim it has also contributed to a widespread belief that a commercial EPC is just a piece of paper and it doesn’t matter who provides it.Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that Commercial Energy Assessors should not be audited, but I do believe that the fact that the only bar to joining the profession is basically the cost of the training is an issue which needs to be addressed and a factor in the failure of commercial EPC’s, so far, to become a significant part of the decision making process of most people when buying or leasing a commercial property.It is time for people in the new industry to prove their worth and to do so by adding value to their services. Too often, the Recommendations Report, which accompanies every commercial EPC is simply ignored and left to gather dust. The real value in commercial EPC’s should be at least as much in the Recommendations Report as in the EPC itself, but the Recommendations Report tends to be an afterthought on the part of the Commercial Energy Assessor and an irrelevance as far as the person commissioning the EPC is concerned.More attention needs to be paid to the Recommendations Report because, once a decision has been made to acquire a commercial property, this is the piece of paper that really matters to the purchaser or the new tenant – they need to able to take steps to improve the commercial EPC rating so that they can show to future purchasers or tenants that they have added value to the property. Of course, they will also benefit over time from reduced energy costs.The future for Commercial Energy Assessors is in showing how they can help people to reduce costs in their businesses and add value to their commercial properties. This is what will make the difference in the market for commercial EPC’s in the long term, rather than simply price. When people choose a firm of Commercial Energy Assessors accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or one of the other leading professional bodies within the wider property industry, they should be confident that the service provided will add value to their business so that the cost of the EPC becomes less of a defining issue.

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