Energy efficiency: Make firms show they have acted on Esos, say MPs


MPs have urged government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority to stand a chance of hitting net zero targets.

The Beis Select Committee delivered a withering assessment of energy efficiency policy across the domestic and commercial sectors.

“We are concerned that the Government has set targets for energy efficiency without having a clear grasp of how much public investment is required to meet them,” states the report.

It recommends a raft of policies to improve performance in buildings, with tougher, mandatory stepped targets out to 2050 and urges government act immediately to raise awareness across sectors that energy efficiency is fundamental in decarbonising the economy.

Commercial buildings: Everybody needs good NABERS

“The Government has failed to raise the salience of energy efficiency within business,” states the report, with “most businesses unaware” of targets and “progress slower than in the residential sector”.

“The Government should act swiftly to agree a trajectory for the ratcheting up of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for commercial buildings. We recommend that the Government assesses the viability in raising MEES for rented commercial properties to EPC Band B by 2035, with milestones of D and C in the lead up time,” suggests the report.

But MEES only focuses on building design – not its actual performance. In Australia, the NABERS scheme, which implemented mandatory operational ratings, has delivered significant energy productivity gains – and commercial premises with poor NABERS ratings command lower rents, incentivising property owners to take action. The Committee suggested government could do worse than adopt the NABERS blueprint.

“There is strong evidence that mandatory operational ratings can successfully reduce energy use. We recommend that the Government moves to the public disclosure of operational energy data for the commercial sector, and the use of rating tools that focus on performance outcomes, from 2020,” per the report.

Give Esos some bite

Evidence to the Committee suggested just 5 per cent of organisations obligated to undertake Esos audits are acting in full on recommendations. Government should spur action by giving the regulations some teeth, said the Committee:

“We recommend that the Government requires Esos audits to be publicly available and to mandate that businesses in scope of Esos demonstrate that they have acted on the energy saving opportunities identified.”

The report also urges changes to building regulations to include tighter standards ensure new commercial buildings do not require energy efficiency retrofits from 2025.

See the report here.

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