Building energy and carbon performance: Government proposals on a new ratings framework for offices

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  • Building safety,
  • Facilities,
  • Sustainability

02 June 2021

Building

Alongside its consultation on a new scheme to rate commercial and industrial buildings above 1,000m² in England and Wales based on their actual energy consumption and carbon emissions, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has laid out its proposals on how it plans to implement the framework for the office sector.

The overarching scheme is to be introduced within the office sector first because the Government considers that offices, especially purpose-built modern offices, are the best prepared sector to adopt an annual performance-based rating. The reasons for this include the fact that the consistency of building type, energy and heating demand in offices is fairly straightforward and consistent, and significant improvements in energy performance can be made through existing technologies. Government estimates that the scheme could reduce the annual business energy bills of the 10,000 buildings in scope (these account for 53% of the total energy used by commercial and industrial buildings and the associated carbon emissions) by £116m by 2030.

The Government’s central proposal is that owners and single tenants of such offices will be required to get an annual performance-based rating (which must improve over time), and to publicly disclose their most up to date rating. Ongoing energy improvements are not on a trajectory to meet carbon budgets and net-zero targets, so the proposals aim to replicate the success of the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS). NABERS has achieved significant results in reducing energy intensity and is widely recognised as best practice.

Currently, the timetable is for a soft launch for the office sector in April 2022 with a mandatory first rating and voluntary disclosure. This will be followed by a full launch in 2023 with mandatory annual ratings and disclosure. Other sectors proposed for inclusion within the framework will follow suit by 2030. These include health, education, hospitality, industrial, arts, leisure, community, retail and storage.

With 45% of total UK carbon emissions attributed to the built environment, commercial and industrial buildings have a key role to play in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy - and facilities managers will be front and centre of developments. In collaboration with experts from our community groups, we will continue to update members on how the energy performance framework is taking shape as well as share government guidance aimed at helping building owners and businesses to prepare for implementation.

For research, insight, guidance and resources on a range of sustainability topics, visit our Sustainability web hub.

If you have any comments on this article or would like further information, please email: policy@iwfm.org.uk.