Scottish Government’s EPC ratings plan ‘practically impossible’

Paul Hilton

PROPERTY marketing specialist ESPC says it fears the Scottish Government’s plans for new Environmental Performance Certificates (EPCs), whilst well intentioned, may in some types of property be impossible to achieve.

In the current system of EPCs the most prominent metric is the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) for the dwelling. The EER provides a banded rating from A to G and a 1-100 rating based on the cost to run the dwelling.

The Scottish Government intends to create three new headline metrics for EPCs, namely fabric rating, cost rating, and heating system type.

Following the proposed changes to EPCs the government intends to bring in a wider Heat in Buildings Bill, which would require all homes to meet a minimum fabric energy efficiency standard equivalent to EPC C by 2033 and to prohibit the use of direct emissions heating systems, like gas boilers, in domestic and non-domestic buildings by 2045.

For context, ESPC said there are 2,610 properties currently for sale on 1,192 (46%) have an EPC rating of ‘C’ or better.

ESPC added that for many properties and householders, achieving the ‘C’ rating or better will be difficult for both logistical and financial reasons.

The business is now urging the government to work with industry on a number of issues including the possibility for exemptions from the ban on direct emissions heating systems for certain types of buildings (for example some tenement flats and some properties in conservation areas or heritage sites); greater financial support to help purchase and install heat pumps; and a discussion of a wider suite of options to help move Scotland’s varied housing stock closer to net zero.

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said, “We are in agreement with much of what the Government is proposing. The new EPCs will make it easier for buyers to evaluate how much they’ll be likely to spend on heating the home they’re thinking of buying, and we agree that the move toward zero direct emissions heating systems will help reduce carbon emissions.

“However, we need to be more aware of the unintended consequences of the proposals. The installation of ground or air source heat pumps will be expensive and logistically difficult in many properties. In some tenement flats, for instance, it will be practically impossible.

“To take Edinburgh as an example, around two-thirds of the city’s housing stock is flats, and many of those will be in one of the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which in many cases will make it even harder for people to convert their heating systems. That, in turn, means that the C rating the Government wants all properties to reach will be unachievable in many cases, with potentially severe implications for people wishing to sell those homes.”