7 Biggest Challenges for Energy Assessors

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It’s difficult to believe that accredited Energy Assessors didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

Since 2007, a whole new industry has grown out of energy related regulations when EPCs and DECs were introduced. It has had to adapt very quickly to ensure adequate and quality resource to deliver the right solutions reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions to meet UK and European targets. This has introduced a number of important challenges for Energy Assessors.

Accountability

  • With the introduction of regulations like the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), the industry has now had to focus more closely on the quality and competence of energy assessors.
  • When EPCs were introduced in 2007 for domestic stock, often the process was a tick box exercise, driven by the need for accredited assessors and opportunities to set up as EPC providers, often with little experience of building services design and operation.
  • MEES has highlighted the importance of accurate EPCs, as a sub-standard property with an F or G EPC rating is at risk, with potential impacts on acquisitions, rent reviews, lease renewals and capital values.
  • As an example, we have knowledge of a recent property transaction, where a G rated EPC was modelled to determine that an £0.5m cost of improvement was required to take the property out of risk. This information was factored into negotiations and enabled the deal to be successfully completed.
  • Poor quality EPCs now put Energy Assessors at risk and open to challenge as their assessments will impact multi-million pound sales and lease deals. It is likely that some EPC providers will be caught out when these issues come to light.
  • Energy Assessors therefore need robust quality systems and take the time to access accurate information when producing EPCs.
  • Clients who engage Energy Assessors are starting to put in place more stringent due diligence processes to protect their risk.

Understanding the Building User’s Needs.

  • This is particularly challenging when considering energy performance, as often the user doesn’t know what is needed.
  • An Energy Assessor should ask probing questions to ensure the actual use of the building reflects the one used in producing the EPC. If this is not defined correctly and at an early stage, the predicted energy use is likely to be incorrect, often greatly so.
  • This is especially challenging with multi tenanted buildings and where buildings are designed and built without confirmation of their final use, or who will be occupying them.

Obtaining Correct and Accurate Information.

  • When assessing existing buildings, it is essential that the information being used to make the assessment, whether it is for an EPC, DEC, AC inspection, ESOS, or other energy related process, is as accurate as possible. This is often challenging as in our experience, even with relatively new buildings, relevant information is not readily available.
  • Obtaining as much information as possible prior to a site survey saves time and helps prioritise survey areas.
  • Information required ranges from accurate drawings showing size and type of construction, to age and condition of the building services, how the services are zoned and how the building is operated. Even when this is available, checks should be made to ensure its accuracy as far as possible.
  • Where detailed equipment information is not available, default information is used in the EPC model, often leading to much poorer EPC ratings.

Getting to the Decision Maker

  • The aim of producing energy audits and reports is to identify measures to reduce energy consumption. Unfortunately, it is all too common for reports to be produced and filed away to gather dust.
  • Often this is because the person responsible for signing off the report does not have the authority to spend money on improvements, particularly frustrating when recommendations are no or low cost.
  • ESOS introduced a requirement to ensure energy efficiency recommendations are seen and signed off by a Director to ensure that someone with budget authority will see return on investments and the effect on the bottom line.
  • However, in practice it is always beneficial to identify and communicate with the decision maker to explain the benefits.

Obtaining Accurate and Timely Energy Consumption Data

  • This is an industry wide problem, caused by poor metering and data transfer processes, low quality billing from suppliers and a lack of knowledge by operational teams or their agents on how data should be checked and verified.
  • To ensure accurate DECs for instance, it is essential to have accurate and consistent consumption data. This is also true for ESOS assessments to calculate accurate return on investment and paybacks.

Gaining Access

  • It may seem like a straightforward process, but often simple communication failures result in abortive visits and rearranged surveys. It is not uncommon to arrange a visit to arrive and find that only partial access is available, meaning a revisit is required.

Keeping Abreast of Current Topics

  • In addition to keeping up to speed with regulatory issues, new trends and ideas are continually becoming the new hot topic.
  • More recently, these appear to be driven by the desire to be socially responsible and the recognition that the bottom line can be affected.
  • For example, Health and Wellbeing is currently top of the agenda in forward-thinking organisations, as this can have significant impacts on productivity and contentment of workers, occupiers and visitors.
  • These issues generally fall within the remit of an environmental team and therefore often falls in the lap of energy experts.

Significant challenges face Energy Assessors, but when overcome the rewards are significant, both personally and professionally.

 

MEES Advice

To help you meet these challenges, arbn consult is designed specifically for those providing MEES advice. It allows you to quickly and efficiently produce fully costed bespoke retrofit recommendations with Return on Investment and MEES 7-year payback calculations.

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