Energy Efficiency Test

What is an energy efficiency test?

An energy efficiency test rates whether your commercial premises is above board. Nowadays, sites must meet increasingly stringent standards to wean off their energy consumption. This was put in place due to increasing C02 emissions and to ensure energy supplies didn’t deplete. The test was orchestrated by the European Union initiative (Directive 2002/91/EC – EPBD). At a national level, the UK had to face these key responsibilities:

Raise awareness about energy efficiency within commercial properties

Provide standards for new builds and establish a precedent to follow

Assess sites energy performance and grade them against these standards

Provide certificates of these results and have the property openly display them

Enforce penalties and suggest improvements for energy efficiency

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Having a good energy efficiency rating is can attract potential buyers or tenants. The certificate provides a clear indication of how much renovation might be required. This way nothing is under wraps from prospective buyers or tenants – so no nasty surprises!

Better yet, each certificate features an accompanying Retrieval Reference Number (RRN). Any prospective buyer or occupant can search this on the non-domestic registry website ( Be warned – if an assessor sends you a certificate without an RRN, then it has not been filed correctly. In such a situation, you will be liable if the matter is investigated by building control.

Why does my commercial property need to get tested?

Commercial, industrial and residential buildings must undergo some form of energy efficiency test. It is a legal requirement and is valid for 10 years (unless significant changes are made to the property). The cost of this test typically depends on the scale of the building being assessed. The results are then published in an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is an easy to view certificate that rates the efficiency of your building using grades. These grades start from G (least energy efficient) and go all the way up to A (the highest level of energy efficiency). Once acquired, you must display this within your property if:

You’re building is frequently visited by the public

The total useful floor area is over 500 square meters

An EPC has already been produced for the building

You must possess an EPC if:

You rent out or sell the premises

A building has finished undergoing construction

Alterations have been made to you property, such as heating or ventilation

To receive an EPC for your building you must go through the correct channels. In the instance of commercial premises, this would be a Commercial Energy Assessor. Power Audit UK has established many working relationships over the years. Through our energy brokering and auditing, we can help point you in the right direction. However, the type of assessor you would need would depend on the complexity of your building.

According to the GOV website, failure to follow the above means: “You can be fined between £500 and £5,000 based on the rateable value of the building if you don’t make an EPC available to any prospective buyer or tenant.”

What goes into an EPC?

The purpose of an EPC is to indicate the energy efficiency of a building at a glance. It breaks this into; building materials, coolers, heating, and lighting and ventilation systems. However, it does not show how the present occupier utilises these systems. This is set to come into effect with the yet unannounced commercial “Green Deal”. To get a better idea for now, however, they would need to install an interval-metering system – a device that tracks energy usage at regular intervals.

During the test, however, a qualified assessor would need as much time and access as possible to your site. Once on-site, they would need to carry out a physical inspection to gather an assortment of data. Such as:

The size and scope of the building area

Designating sub-areas and attributing their functional purpose

The size and scope of the building area

Designating sub-areas and attributing their functional purpose

The lighting systems in place

An assessment of the hot water and central heating systems

The energy efficiency of the windows

As assessment of the ventilation

They would also need to take into account any changes that have occurred to the site over time. During the inspection, the assessor would attribute functionalities to subsections of the site. The data gathered in these subsections or “zones” is separately recorded. It’s collated in a piece of software and compared to the total size of the site. This way, the assessor can determine any irregularities.

Another thing to note is that there are three different types of commercial EPCs. These account for the fluctuations in size and purpose of properties:

A Level 3 Building is a simple building with no air conditioning. An example of this would be your typical high street shops with domestic properties located above.

A Level 4 Building is a standard building WITH air condition. An example of this would be a new office block with climate control or any building with air-conditioning.

A Level 5 Building is a building with a complex structure that requires special software to model. An example of this would be an open building, such as a stadium

When would I not need to be tested?

Contrary to belief, not all buildings need to undertake an energy efficiency test. A property needn’t seeking out an EPC if it’s a temporary building that is going to be used for less than 2 years. Nor if the building is due to be demolished by the seller or landlord – provided they have relevant planning permission. However, one wrinkle to this is the following:

“An industrial site, workshop or non-residential agricultural building that doesn’t use much energy”

In this instance, a barn with no heating would be exempt. However, this would be the barest working conditions. It would not be replicable on a commercially viable scale e.g. for factories or warehouses etc. However, an EPC doesn’t take into account how much energy is being used – it just notes its efficiency. An owner can therefore keep their bills low – despite having a poor EPC – through consuming minimal energy. The building itself, however, might not be equipped to conserve this energy.

Need an energy broker?


What: Power Audit UK
Who: Sean Taylor

With over 23 years of experience, Sean’s knowledge as a UK-based commercial energy broker is next-to-none. If you’d like to benefit from an energy audit from Power Audit UK or any of Our Services, simply reach out and get in touch below! Sean’s worked across all sectors of business, including charities, schools and universities.

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