Display Energy Certificates (DEC)
The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations requires Display Energy Certificates (DEC) in public buildings from 1st October 2008. A DEC must be prominently displayed in non-domestic public buildings with a gross floor area of over 500m2 (from 09.01.2013) – measured internally between the external walls of the practice building.
For the purposes of a GP practice the definition of a public building is likely to include surgery premises, as GP practices are in receipt of public funds and provide a public service to large numbers of people who visit regularly, although this has yet to be tested in law. Only larger buildings however are likely to be affected or those where there is a shared facility (e.g. a clinic) in a health centre or similar arrangement. Where two smaller buildings are connected, and jointly they occupy over 500 sq.m. then the DEC requirement will apply.
The DEC indicates the operational rating of the building in energy terms along with CO2 emissions in a rating scale of A (very efficient) to G (least efficient), indicating how well the building operates and energy managed. The actual amount of metered energy over a twelve month period is used in the assessment.
The overall purpose of a DEC is to raise public awareness of energy issues and to inform visitors of the building’s characteristics. The certificate must be clearly displayed for the public to see, and the practice must be in possession of an energy advisory report. The DEC is designed for the public to view, and not necessarily staff.
Guidance states that where there is doubt over whether a DEC is needed, it is good practice to obtain one (Guide to Display Energy Certificates and Advisory reports for Public Buildings).
The Display Energy Certificate
This shows the performance of the building based on actual energy consumption recorded annually over a period of up to three years. A DEC is valid for one year only and therefore must be updated annually.
The Operational Rating is an indicator of the actual annual carbon dioxide emissions, and the various forms of energy used in the building are combined to produce this rating, enabling one building to be compared with another. This is mapped into the A – G energy rating with the previous two years also shown. This is to indicate whether the efficiency of the building is improving or not.
The DEC certificate should be no smaller than A3 in size and in colour. The building owner should have an accompanying Advisory Report available for inspection, as this reports on possible building improvements, and is valid for up to 7 years.
Where a DEC is deemed to be required, and is not available, a local authority may impose a fine of £500 for failure to display, and £1000 for no advisory report. Compliance will then be required.
The practice must use an accredited energy assessor authorised to produce a DEC and an advisory report for the type of building. If an employee is accredited then regulations do not exclude their production of the DEC.
The energy consumption data will be reviewed by the energy assessor in line with the approved methodology. Under certain conditions, the methodology allows adjustments to be made for longer hours of occupation, variations to weather and climate and allows certain activities to be separated if they are non-typical of the type of building.
The carbon dioxide emissions for the certificate are based on the adjusted energy consumption and adjusted total useful floor area and building type to give a measured CO2 emission per square metre.
The energy assessor will then use an approved tool to calculate the Operational Rating and produce a DEC and advisory report from the information gathered.
The DEC and advisory report will be lodged in a national register and given a unique certificate reference number. The national register is operated by Landmark Information Group Limited on behalf of the Secretary of State. See Resources below. Energy assessors must act in an independent manner – this is ensured by their membership of an approved accreditation scheme. Energy assessors are responsible for conducting an energy assessment, producing a DEC and advisory report and lodging the DEC and advisory report with their accreditation scheme.
The accreditation scheme is responsible for checking and lodging certificates on the national register. Accreditation schemes are also responsible for monitoring the quality of the certificates energy assessors produce.