Of over 7,000 public buildings in UK with Display Energy Certificate, only 107 have “A” rating

We are now realising the important role that labelling plays.  Greg Pitcher writes on the Architects Journal about the poor state of Britain’s public buildings. Is it better in your country?

98% of new public buildings fail to meet highest energy standard

Energy efficiency failings have been exposed at thousands of recently completed public buildings with less than 2 per cent managing to achieve the top eco-ranking

Government figures showed that of the 7,420 new Display Energy Certificates (DECs) submitted in the three months to 30 September, just 107 were given an A rating for operational efficiency.

More than two-thirds were given a rating between D and G (the lowest ranking) under the monitoring initiative. The scheme requires submissions from all state-occupied structures larger than 250m2 that have either been newly finished or have been sold or rented for the first time in a decade.

The government figures show little improvement in the 10 years since the scheme was launched in a bid to encourage building designers to focus on sustainability.

Back in the third quarter of 2008, the proportion of buildings posting A ratings for operational energy efficiency through the certificates was 0.4 per cent. Ten years later it has only grown to 1.4 per cent.

More than 15 per cent of all buildings measured in the lifetime of the initiative have received F or G ratings, marking them at the foot of the sustainability scale. Just taking into account buildings registered this year, the proportion of F and G ratings remains higher than 10 per cent.

In Manchester, 0.9 per cent of buildings have received an A rating for energy performance on DECs. In Birmingham the figure is 0.6 per cent; in Westminster it is also 0.6 per cent.

UK Green Building Council public affairs and policy specialist Jenny Holland said: ‘Clearly there is a pressing need for targets to improve the energy performance of public buildings. The public sector has a responsibility to show leadership in both procuring high-quality new buildings and improving the efficiency of existing buildings.’

RIBA Sustainable Futures Group chair Gary Clark said the government should change legislation to require DECs to be renewed every three years.

’At the moment, DECs are only carried out once every 10 years for larger buildings, which means there is no incentive to make energy improvements,’ he said. ’But this isn’t just about improving what we have, the government needs to address the efficiency of our stock and create exemplary case studies for the construction industry.

’RIBA’s 2019 Plan of Work revision tackles this issue in a number of areas and we will be working on ensuring that sustainability is embedded into our architectural education system, so that students of the future are creating buildings that tackle the impacts of climate change.

Looking at the related Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) scheme – where the ratings don’t have to be displayed – just 0.1 per cent of homes in England and Wales have achieved A ratings during the past decade. More than 6 per cent scored F or G.

Some 360,837 new EPC ratings were lodged for domestic dwellings in the third quarter of this year, the highest since early 2016.

Responding to the EPC figures, housing minister Kit Malthouse said: ‘While there is more to do, these figures show we are making great progress on delivering better and more efficient homes, driving down household bills for hard-working families.’

4 thoughts on “Of over 7,000 public buildings in UK with Display Energy Certificate, only 107 have “A” rating

  1. Whilst the article makes an important point, it covers only 7,000 of the 58,000 publicly occupied buildings in Britain. Who will analyse the other 86% of them, to see if they are equally energy inefficient?

  2. Dear EID Readers
    I’m afraid this article is full of nonsense. Almost everything in it is false. FYI, a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) is based on an operational energy rating (measured energy use) whilst an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is based on an asset rating (predicted energy use according to a computer model).

    In fact, the latest set of DEC results “submitted in the three months to 30 September” will be mostly renewals of DECs for existing buildings. DECs are not just produced for “recently completed public buildings”.

    To be clear, the DEC regime DOES NOT “require submissions from all state-occupied structures larger than 250 m2 that have either been newly finished or have been sold or rented for the first time in a decade”. In fact, all public buildings visited by the public over 1000 m2 must have a DEC on display which MUST BE RENEWED EVERY YEAR. Buildings in the range 250-1000 m2 only have to renew their DEC every ten years.

    The article implies a DEC A is something you might expect a new building to achieve, when in reality it would be like expecting all new offices in Australia to have whole building ratings of NABERS 6 stars. Most DEC A rated buildings we’ve looked at have been unused/unoccupied storage buildings.

    It’s no surprise ‘only’ one third get DEC A to C (“two-thirds were given a rating between D and G”). The DEC scale was set so that the average rating is on the D/E boundary, which means a large majority of buildings are D or E. To get a C, energy (carbon to be precise) intensity must by at least 25% lower than the benchmark.

    It is not sensible to judge the improvement in the energy efficiency of these public buildings by looking at the number that have a grade A, for which energy /carbon intensity must be at least 75% lower than the benchmark. DEC A is so rare, in 2008 and now, because it means using at least four times less energy than the average in 2008. DEC A is a reasonable definition of a nearly zero energy building in operation. Anyone familiar with non-domestic buildings will know that very few qualify today as nearly zero energy/carbon in operation.

    For completeness, I have to say some EPCs for non-domestic buildings DO have to be displayed in a building. These are those produced for commercial buildings visited by the public e.g. supermarkets. This confusing situation is because regrettably the government decided to allow such buildings to display an EPC rather than a DEC which would have been far more meaningful and consistent with the energy certificate the public see in a public building. An EPC only has to be renewed every ten years.

    1. Dear Robert, Thanks so much for this. This is an excellent response. Few know as much about this than you.

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