Report calls for non-domestic Green Deal relaunch

11th December, 2013

A report by the Westminister Sustainable Business Forum and Carbon Connect – “Building Efficiency – Reducing Energy Demand in the Commercial Sector” – has made a number of recommendations to Government to tackle some of the biggest barriers to greater energy efficiency in the commercial buildings sector. 

The report emphasises the problem of the availability of capital for investment in energy efficiency, particularly for SMEs and micro-businesses. It calls for a relaunch of the non-domestic Green Deal scheme, through a targeted ‘street by street’ campaign and for the UK Green Investment Bank to fund a non-domestic subsidiary of The Green Deal Finance Company, under guarantee from HM Treasury, to offer low interest loans to SMEs to stimulate the market for energy efficiency.

It also suggests that the energy efficiency market can be further stimulated through the introduction of strong guidance to encourage the inclusion of specific energy efficiency measures in future Growth Deals to be submitted by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The report states that commercial buildings accounted for approximately 10 per cent of the UK’s total CO2e emissions in 2012 and that they emitted nine per cent more emissions in 2012 than then they did in 2011. Over 70 per cent of the emissions from commercial buildings come from grid-related electricity emissions and the sector’s electricity demand is expected to rise by 29.5 per cent between 2014 and 2030 due to further electrification.

Other recommendations made by the report aimed at increasing the availability of capital for energy efficiency projects include the suggestion that the government should remove the ‘Golden Rule’ requirement attached to the non-domestic Green Deal, in part due to the high chance of new commercial occupiers entering a property with a Green Deal already attached to it, and the issues created by changes in business activity in a premise. The report also recommends the integration of a version of the International Performance and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) into existing energy efficiency schemes to promote the use of a universal framework for measurement and verification.

It says that the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which is designed to meet the requirements of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive should require senior executive sign-off of an energy assessor’s report, to stimulate buy-in from the top, adding that it believes that “…this the only way to stimulate the kind of behaviour change needed throughout an organisation to ensure that a culture of energy efficiency is embedded, embraced and understood.” The report’s authors also recommend that the Government should introduce a requirement into the ‘Good Practice Guide’ for companies complying with the ESOS to provide some form of reasoning for not acting upon previous ESOS recommendations.

As 51 per cent of organisations in the UK rent the space in which they carry out their business activities, the report also calls on the Department for Communities and Local Government to introduce a strong penalty for non-compliance when it comes to the use of Energy Performance Certificates. It also recommends that the government visibility enforces Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for its own buildings to demonstrate the importance of sustainable buildings.

Another recommended measure is an extension of the length of time that landlords receive empty property rate relief from Local Authorities to 12 months on the condition that landlords install measurable energy efficiency improvements over that period and that the improvements are proven through an increased EPC score.

Source: E2BPulse

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