The government has announced a range of measures to cut the carbon footprint of UK commercial buildings, including stricter requirements under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). The announcements formed part of an official response to recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), and come 4 months after the UK became the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.
New measures affecting commercial buildings include:
- Proposals to dramatically improve commercial buildings in the private rented sector, with businesses ‘set to benefit by saving up to £1 billion per year in energy bills by 2030’. This includes a consultation on plans to improve the energy performance of rented commercial buildings.
- The government says proposals to set minimum energy efficiency standards at EPC band B by 2030 ‘could reduce UK emissions by the equivalent of half a million homes – roughly the size of Birmingham’.
- A consultation in 2020 on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for business buildings.
Business and Industry are responsible for over a quarter of UK emissions, a significant proportion of which are created through businesses’ demand for energy. The majority of that energy is used to heat the buildings they occupy: of the total energy consumed by UK businesses in 2014-15, 52% was used in maintaining the non-domestic building stock.
Since April 2018, landlords of non-domestic private rented sector properties have not been permitted to grant a new tenancy or to extend or renew an existing tenancy if their property had an EPC rating of an F or G. From 1 April 2023, this prohibition on leasing will also apply to continuing with an existing lease; i.e. all non-domestic properties will need to be at least EPC E.
In other announcements yesterday, the government also introduced the much-awaited new Environment Bill, and the establishment of a new public body – the Office for Environmental Protection which will hold government and other public bodies to account on their environmental obligations, including on climate change. The UK’s first Transport Decarbonisation Plan was also announced to bring together a programme of coordinated action to end the UK’s transport emissions by 2050.