Insights 28th June 2022 Building Consultancy

This month has seen a significant change in energy assessments for non-domestic buildings, which will impact EPC ratings with the introduction of the most recent version of the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) the methodology used by energy professionals to calculate energy efficiency in commercial property. 

Here, Vicky Cotton, ESG Director, explains how the new methodology appears to penalise those buildings that continue to use gas, making it harder for them to achieve better EPC ratings.

Driven by the government’s push towards meeting Net Zero targets, the updates will impact the way non-domestic properties’ energy consumption is assessed, and how EPC ratings are achieved.

Today, 30% to 40% of the electricity in the national grid is produced by renewable or low-carbon fuels. In 2020, a one-off record high of 53% of electricity within the grid came from renewable or low-carbon sources.

Now that the national electricity grid has become less reliant on fossil fuels, the carbon factor of electricity has been updated to an improvement of around 73% on the previous 2013 values.

Because the EPC rating for non-domestic buildings is based on CO2 emissions, any changes to carbon intensity values will impact predicted carbon emissions and consequently a property’s EPC rating.

While the carbon factor for electricity has improved, the carbon factor for natural gas has worsened slightly, meaning those buildings still using gas are likely to receive a poorer rating compared to those without.

In 14 test projects calculated by @CarbonProfile, all nine of the grid-electric buildings received a better rating under the new version 6.1 SBEM. All five natural-gas-heated projects got worse.

Before committing to refurbishment works to achieve a better EPC rating in preparation for looming changes to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations, which have been amended to require an EPC of ‘B’ by 2030, with an interim target to reach an EPC of ‘C’ by 2027 , it would be worth recalculating EPCs under the new SBEM methodology.