Many in the Education Sector will be aware of the requirements relating to EPCs and DECs. However, from 9 January 2013 the new Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 came into force (the “new Regulations”). The new Regulations change the rules that specify when EPCs and DECs are required. The new Regulations implement the revised EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (Directive 2010/31/EU).
The key changes for the education sector are:
More buildings will be exempt from the requirement to have an EPC, of particular relevance to the education sector are buildings which are officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historical merit, insofar as “compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirement could unacceptably alter their character or appearance”.
It will no longer be necessary to include the first page of an EPC in marketing particulars. Instead it will be necessary to include the “asset rating” of the building in any advertisement in commercial media.
Display of EPCs in buildings visited by the public
An EPC must be put on display to the public in commercial buildings which are larger than 500m2 and that are frequently visited by the public. Commercial building in this context means buildings which are non domestic buildings and therefore this will apply to buildings used by charitable educational institutions. The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued guidance to accompany the new Regulations (the “Guidance”) which states that a building is frequently visited by the public if:
- it is a commercial building;
- the public have an implied or express licence to enter; and
- it is regularly visited by the public on a daily or near daily basis.
It will therefore apply to education institutions which generally permit the public to enter, such as where a school hall is used for events such as public concerts or where the public are expressly invited onto the premises, such as for a meeting.
For freehold premises this obligation rests on the owner, for leasehold premises the Guidance states that the obligation rests with the tenant although the new Regulations themselves are unclear.
It is currently unclear whether the provision has retrospective effect: is it necessary to display EPCs issued prior to 9 January 2013, or only EPCs issued on or after that date? The drafting of the new Regulations means it is arguable it only applies to new EPCs. However, elements of the Guidance imply it applies to existing EPCs. The more cautious approach whilst these inconsistencies are resolved is that if you have an EPC (there is no requirement to commission an EPC solely for this purpose) it should be displayed.
The test for whether a building requires a DEC has changed. From 9 January 2013 buildings over 500m2 which are occupied by public authorities and are frequently visited by the public will require a DEC. The requirement to display a DEC will no longer apply to “institutions providing public services” unless they are themselves public authorities. Unfortunately no guidance as to the interpretation of “public authority” has been provided. However, based on the general law in this area educational institutions should assume that they are public authorities for these purposes. From 9 July 2015 the size of a building occupied by a public authority requiring a DEC will be reduced to 250m2.