Failure fears prompt call for green property overhaul

EPCs don’t measure actual energy use.

Real estate is responsible for around half of the UK’s carbon emissions.

Property giants including British Land, Hammerson, Hermes, Land Securities, Legal and General. Prupim and SEGRO, which own and manage the country’s biggest shopping centres and offices, believe Government policy has ignored the fact that the majority of commercial property is rented out.

This means landlords cannot simply walk into a tenant’s shop, for example, and turn the lights off. Therefore, any incentives and responsibilities for improving energy performance are widely split between the two groups.

The BPF wants to see measurement based on actual energy use made obligatory for the private sector. This could happen by expanding display energy certificates (DECs) – which measure the operational performance of a building – so that they do not just cover public buildings.

Property is responsible for a massive 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions, but one of the easiest places to make savings if data is shared and landlords and tenants work together.

Energy use needs to be made transparent if the industry has any hope of meeting green energy targets, believes BPF chief executive Liz Peace. The BPF is pushing for EU law to be changed so that landlords and tenants will be obliged to share energy data. If this happens, then both sides can work together to support real change.

However, Peace admits there is a critical need for firms to change the way they view energy and reduce usage via more effective management before looking at refitting buildings with expensive new gadgets. It is also vital to ensure that any newly-installed kit delivers the promised energy and carbon savings, as there is evidence that some developments employ it at planning stage but often don’t use it properly. Essentially, it comes down to effectively measuring what is used.

Experts believe a third of energy use can be cut without any major expenditure, but want research carried out into what financial incentives could spur landlords on to undertake higher cost improvements, looking at where costs and benefits currently do not add up, when all other factors are balanced.

Peace said: "If a landlord makes an investment in more efficient kit, the tenant can benefit from lower energy bills while the landlord experiences no tangible benefit and faces significant upfront costs.

"The Government should explore how the tax system might be used to actively incentivise improvements by altering the conundrum we have over how the benefits from improvements are shared between landlords and tenants."

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