How does Section 63 differ to MEES?

As the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were introduced on 1st April 2018, we are also mindful of the equivalent legislation in Scotland (Section 63) which aims to improve the energy efficiency in Scottish buildings.

On 1st September 2016, the Climate Change Act Scotland 2009 (Section 63) and The Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-Domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016 were introduced. This legislation requires building owners to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions across commercial buildings.

Key points about Section 63:

  • The legislation is only applicable to buildings in Scotland.
  • Building owners must also obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
  • It applies only to sale and lease of buildings or building units over 1000m2 floor area.
  • If an Action Plan is not provided upon sale or rent or improvement works are not completed within the required time, a £1000 fine could be implemented for each failure.
  • The EPC and Action Plan should be in place prior to legal negotiations.
  • As with the EPC it must be made available free of charge to the prospective buyer or tenant and be the most up to date version.

Section 63 requirements:

Unlike MEES, where buildings must achieve a higher EPC rating in order to be compliant, under Section 63 legislation, building owners must produce an Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines recommendations on how to improve the energy performance of the building and ways in which the carbon consumption can be reduced. The Action Plan will include advice on physically improving the building, such as through lighting or insulation, to comply with the Section 63 legislation.

The Action Plan is undertaken by a Section 63 Advisor who is competent in the assessment procedure and the Action Plan is finalised with the building owner.

Once agreed this is required to be lodged to the Scottish EPC register and although the Action Plan can be relodged, the completion date is locked from then on.

When the improvement measures are finalised, they must be implemented within 42 months of the first Action Plan being issued.

Differences between Section 63 and MEES:

In England and Wales, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)  require all commercial buildings to achieve an EPC rating of E or higher. This is the equivalent legislation in England and Wales to Section 63 as its aim is to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings. In England and Wales, the legislation’s main focus is improving the EPC rating and does not include an Action Plan.

It is important to note that there is a difference between the EPC rating system in England and Scotland, therefore, achieving, for example, an E rating in England may not translate to an E rating in the Scottish system. As stated by EPCA, It can be said that the Scottish EPC system will often produce a poorer rating than the English rating system for similar buildings.

Therefore, building owners with properties in both England and Scotland must ensure they comply with the correct legislation and must not assume that both EPC rating systems are equal.

Exemptions:

The following buildings qualify for an exemption from the legislation:

  • Buildings which have a floor area of less than 1000m2.
  • Buildings that have met or exceed the equivalent energy standards of the 2002 Scottish building regulations.
  • Temporary buildings – those who have an intended life of 2 years or less.
  • Workshops and agricultural buildings that meet the “low energy demand” rule.
  • Prisons and young offender institutions.
  • Buildings participating in the Green Deal scheme.

Deferring Section 63 requirements:

If the building owner does not want to carry out the improvement measures stated in the Action Plan within the 42 months, they can defer the improvements if they lodge a Display Energy Certificate (DEC). A DEC provides information on the building’s energy use and carbon emissions. In doing this, they must ensure a DEC is lodged every year until the improvements are implemented.

Completing Action Plan improvement measures:

When the improvement measures are completed, the Action Plan and EPC can both be lodged. These are lodged on the Scottish EPC Register which provides evidence that the building owner has completed the improvement measures and complies with the legislation.

Overall, although MEES and Section 63 both have different compliance goals, their aim is to reduce carbon emissions throughout the UK and improve the overall energy performance of our buildings.

 

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