Energy

Carbon factors: good news for your EPC rating

Carbon factors sound a bit technical, so I understand why you might be reading this thinking “why would I be interested in those, this EPC chap is a bit dull.”

However, if I told you that the EPC rating for your non-domestic building might improve later this year without you doing anything at all then that might catch your attention. Especially as we now know the MEES target is going to be a B rating by 2030.

What is going on?

For each fuel type, there is an associated amount of carbon per kWh. In the past, electricity has been the villain with a carbon factor approximately 2.5 times worse than mains gas. And why was that? Because electricity production in the UK relied heavily on fossil fuels, and was tremendously inefficient in terms of losses through the grid.

These EPC carbon factors were last updated around eight years ago when the last version of Part L of the Building Regulations came into force. Since then, the UK has seen significantly more renewables come online and this has ‘greened up’ our grid electricity supply to the extent that is now seen as the future of all heating systems, and the fuel for our future cars.

As the carbon factors in the EPC methodology have not been updated in all that time, we will now see them catch up with a massive improvement later this year when they will be realigned to be more like 20 – 25% less than mains gas per kWh (it varies month to month).

What does this mean for my buildings?

In England and Wales, when an EPC is calculated the actual building is compared against a reference building, and that reference building is always heated by gas. So in the past an electrically heated building, fuelled by ‘high carbon mains electricity’ was compared against a much cleaner fuel for the reference building.

After the change this year, that same building will now be ‘clean’ electricity compared against the same gas heating, and the rating will improve.

The actual improvement will vary, but if your non-domestic building is heated by electricity, be it panel heaters or air conditioning, it is going to get better when the changes are introduced.

When will this be?

The new version of Part L is coming in June this year and the EPC change is likely to be ‘soon’ after, certainly within six months. So watch this space.

In the meantime, us clever bods at MEES Solutions have developed an ‘estimated future rating tool’ for electrically heated buildings. It’s not the full calculation (otherwise we’d be producing our own EPC software) but on any building we assess we can give a very good indication of what the rating will be under the new methodology, taking into account the new ‘good’ electricity. Drop me an email if you’d like to find out more.

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