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Architects condemn government plan to relax energy rating demands

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Ministers’ plans to scrap energy ratings for public buildings have come under fire from the RIBA

The institute has branded the government’s proposal to abolish DECs (display energy certificates) for some public buildings as ‘a backwards step’.

Its head of external Affairs Anna Scott-Marshall said the certificates had played an “important role” in boosting energy efficiency of public sector buildings since their introduction in 2008.

“Without clear information on how much energy buildings use and the ability to benchmark performance against comparable buildings, there is a danger that temptation for a false saving has much greater long-term implications for the environment,” she added.

RIBA’s take on the abolition plans comes in response to last month’s Whitehall consultation paper that proposed relaxing implementation of a European Union directive on the energy performance of buildings.

This required all public buildings over 1,000m2 to display certificates showing their energy use.

Under the government proposals, around 54,000 public buildings in England and Wales, such as town halls, swimming pools, and schools, would be exempt from the requirement.

RIBA’s response to the consultation mirrors the response from the UK Green Building Council, which last month said the proposed exemption “beggars belief”.

UKGBC acting chief executive John Alker said the government had “completely” missed the benefits of the certification regime.

“There are clear examples  - including the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s own headquarters – where DEC have helped public bodies to reduce their energy and slash bills by an amount that hugely outweighs the administrative costs.”

The government claims in the consultation paper that the move will “minimise administrative costs of EU requirements”.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The value of DEC's in a financially constrained public sector is questionable. It may well be important to know that a school (for example) has an efficiency rating of 'F' but as there is no money within the school budget for improvements and the Local Authority battle to save tens of millions of pounds, what is the point of the certificate? Any improvements which are undertaken to the building fabric will be to current Building Regs standards and by definition an 'improvement'. We don't need a costly new certificate every year and report every 7 years to tell us what we already know.

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