Is Eric Pickles implementing a scorched earth policy ahead of the election?
Today, the Department for Communities and Local Government published a consultation which proposes to abolish Display Energy Certificates in England and Wales. DECs show actual energy consumption of public buildings on an A to G rating scale and need to be prominently displayed. They are required annually for public buildings over 1,000m2, and every 10 years for buildings between 500m2 and 1,000m2. So far, 54,000 public buildings have them.
They raise public awareness of energy consumption in public buildings, make the sector more accountable for their energy consumption to tax-payers, and act as a driver and tool to reduce energy consumption in buildings and convince building owners to invest. The rating on a DEC can be improved by both energy efficiency works and by getting building users to cut back on unnecessary energy use (Energy Performance Certificates don’t register the latter). According to a study cited in the consultation itself, public buildings with DECs reduced their energy consumption by 2% more than their private sector counterparts between 2008 and 2009, just one year into their introduction. Little surprise that in 2011, David Cameron promised to extend the requirement for DECs to buildings in the commercial sector.
Despite this rollout to the private sector being supported by the CBI and the British Property Federation, Government reneged on that promise. Now they are proposing to row back to an extent that beggars belief. CLG says that abolishing DECs would save public authorities £760,000 each year.
When the Department of Energy and Climate Change moved into Whitehall Place, its DEC had a rating of G. That caught our attention – and the attention of countless others who visited the building. The unflattering spotlight being shone on the Department will have played its part in stinging them into action and they’ve since improved their building’s energy consumption to a rating of C, saving £156,000 annually in the process. In one building (yes, a fairly large one). One building out of 54,000. Five such cases would exceed CLG’s savings estimate. The Government should make good on its original promise and extend DECs to the commercial sector, not abolish them. This staggering case of money-saving myopia must be stopped in its tracks.
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