It’s now been a couple of months since the government decided to water down the UK’s net-zero targets including requiring landlords and homeowners to meet energy efficiency targets (an EPC C for new rental contracts by 2025).
Since that time, there's been what you might call a "sigh of confusion" from the property industry. Some members are happy they have one less thing to worry about. Others are waiting for new policy announcements before making decisions on increasing energy efficiency. Decarbonisation projects are stalling.
We certainly understand the pressures of being a landlord or developer in a time of high interest rates and political uncertainty. The policy change seems to take the heat off – even in the hottest year on record.
However, there are some serious practical and negative impacts delaying decarbonisation as if time was not running out. Here are just five:
The destination hasn’t changed. The UK’s 2050 net-zero target is legally binding, a point Sunak reiterated in September. Hitting the snooze button will not change the fact that the changes will have to be made in a few years. Of course, there’s more at stake: IEA Energy executive director, Fatih Birol, points out we need to double energy efficiency progress this decade to meet the 1.5 degree target.
You will be wasting money. It bears repeating that carbon emissions from energy use are (broadly) a proxy for expenditure. When you increase energy efficiency in a property, you reduce your exposure to high and unpredictable energy prices. In the UK’s milder climate, tiny fluctuations now cause big swings in energy bills. Decarbonisation isn’t a cost, but an investment.
UK 2050 isn’t the only legal driver. Thanks to the EU’s Taxonomy Regulations, it’s become much easier to invest in truly sustainable buildings. Inefficient offices and other commercial buildings risk becoming stranded assets if your investor, say a bank or a pension fund, has links to Europe. In this case, it will need to declare the carbon efficiency of its estate. Investment in an inefficient building will become more expensive as the years go by. We have written about this in more detail here.
Think of the users! Not only do renters opt for more efficient buildings that are cheaper to run, but they are also more comfortable for occupants. With increasing numbers of companies letting employees work OOO, building efficiency becomes an increasingly important factor to consider for tenants choosing space to rent.
It’s not expensive to get started now Before you carry out a deep retrofit, you will need to commission a decarbonisation feasibility study. These tend to cost less than £10,000 and a good one will give you options to increase increase energy efficiency. It might be cheaper than you expect and you could apply for a grant or green funding for some technologies.
mstep specialises in decarbonisation feasibility studies to quickly understand where and how energy is being used in your buildings and to identify ways to limit consumption.
We will analyse the steps towards carrying out either a shallow or deep retrofit to
reduce operational onsite emissions and provide cost information about the various options and how complex they are.
We can carry these out based on the building energy bills and other information so you don’t even need to take time out of your day to meet us.
You’ll be able to make a more informed decision when everyone else is waiting for direction. It’s always better to try and get something done when there’s less demand for expertise.
Don't waste time! Send us an email to start a conversation about your project.