Reducing Energy - The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)

In 2007 the Government introduced legislation implementing the European Commission’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) into the UK. The object of the Directive, first published in 2002, was to raise awareness of energy efficiency issues in domestic and commercial buildings and to make progress towards increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. The legislation in England and Wales introduced the need for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and Air Conditioning Inspections (ACIRs). The legislation also enables Government to “licence” Schemes to accredit energy assessors (EAs) who are then enabled to undertake EPCs, DECs and ACIRs. For these energy assessments to be “legal” they are required to be lodged into an appropriate database.

Raising awareness of energy usage leading to reducing energy consumption and eliminating energy wastage is the main objective of the EPBD. EU support for improving energy efficiency will prove decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto protocol. There is significant potential for reducing consumption with cost-effective measures. 40% of our energy is consumed in buildings, the Directive and associated legislation is part of the drive to reduce consumption of energy with the consequential reduction in carbon emissions.

The EPBD was revised by the EU in 2010 and further legislation has been issued by the Government to implement it. The base Regulations for England & Wales is The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012.

The EPBD requires all EU countries to enhance their building regulations and to introduce energy certification schemes for buildings. All countries were also required to have in place arrangements for the inspections of boilers and air-conditioning equipment.

The main requirements, duties and responsibilities in the England and Wales Regulations are:

  • an energy performance certificate (EPC) must be produced whenever a building is constructed or being sold or rented out. The EPC shows the energy efficiency rating of a building and is valid for 10 years. It is to be accompanied by a report containing recommendations for the cost- effective improvement of the energy performance of the building;
  • it is the responsibility of the seller or the prospective landlord to obtain and make available the EPC to a purchaser or tenant respectively of an existing building. A developer or person responsible for having construction undertaken has this duty in relation to new construction, and for an air-conditioning system it is the person who controls its operation;
  • advertisements in commercial media for sale or rent of properties are to include details of the energy performance indicator;
  • where an EPC is issued for a non-domestic building larger than 500m2 and that building is frequently visited by the public (retail outlets, banks, restaurants, cinemas etc.), the EPC is to be displayed in the building in a prominent place;
  • a display energy certificate (DEC) must be produced every year for public buildings frequently visited by members of the public and which are larger than 1,000m2. Here is a similar requirement for buildings with a floor area of between 500m2 and 999m2 but here the DEC needs to be replaced every 10 years.
  • a DEC shows the operational energy efficiency rating of the building and must be displayed in a prominent place. It must also be accompanied by a recommendations report, valid for 10 years, which indicates how the energy performance of the building may be cost-effectively improved;
  • air-conditioning installations with an effective rated output greater than 12kW must be inspected at least every five years and a written report on the inspection given to the person who has control of the operation of the system;
  • production of an EPC, DEC or air-conditioning inspection report (ACIR) must be undertaken by an energy assessor who is a member of an approved Accreditation Scheme;
  • EPCs, DECs & ACIRs must be lodged on a designated Register and are valid only when so lodged and are given a unique 20 digit reference number;
  • each district council enforces the requirements in their own district and the Department enforces the requirements in relation to district councils’ own buildings;
  • non-compliance with the requirements, including obstructing an enforcement authority, may lead to the issue of a penalty charge notice (PCN); the penalty amount varies depending on the breach; and
  • a review of a decision to issue a PCN is provided for, as is an appeal to the county court.

The Northern Ireland requirements are very similar and can be found on the Northern Ireland website:

In Scotland there are different arrangements in place but largely the requirements for EPCs and AICRs are similar. There is no requirement for a DEC. Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website:

Other links to Climate Change information: