Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) show the energy performance rating of buildings. The idea is similar to the well-established energy labels for the sale of white goods such as fridges and washing machines.

Details of EPCs

EPCs are required whenever a building is constructed or for existing buildings, before it is marketed for sale or rent.

The EPC records the energy efficiency of a property, providing a rating of the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of a building on a scale from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient.

EPCs are produced using standard methods about energy usage so that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, and occupiers to see and compare information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from a building, so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment decision.

An EPC will include a recommendation report listing measures (such as low and zero carbon generating systems) to improve the energy rating of the building. The EPC also contains information about the rating that could be achieved if all the recommendations were implemented.

EPCs for a dwelling

For dwellings, two ratings are shown, the current rating and the potential rating. The actual energy efficiency rating is a measure of a dwelling's overall efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the dwelling is, the lower the associated carbon emissions are and the lower fuel bills are likely to be.

The energy efficiency rating is based on the performance of the building itself and its services such as heating and lighting. The certificate also lists the potential rating indicating what can be achieved if the recommendations were implemented.

Ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the building. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested measures will be tailored so that they are realistic for the particular building.

Also shown on the EPC is a benchmark rating for an average dwelling in Northern Ireland, again for comparison purposes.

EPCs for a non-dwelling

For non-dwellings, two ratings are shown, the current rating and the potential rating. The actual energy efficiency rating is a measure of the building's overall efficiency. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the building is.

The energy efficiency rating is based on the performance of the building itself and its services such as heating and lighting. The certificate also lists the potential rating indicating what can be achieved if all the cost effective measures were installed.

Ratings will vary according to the age, location, size and condition of the building. The potential rating on the certificate will take these factors into account, and the suggested measures will be tailored so that they are realistic for the particular building.

How to get an EPC

As a seller or landlord it is your responsibility to ensure your property has an EPC. You can commission an EPC yourself or it may be commissioned on your behalf by an agent such as an estate agent. EPCs can only be produced by an accredited energy assessor. Energy assessors may be self employed or employees of service organisations such as estate agents, conveyancers or energy companies.

You may search for an accredited energy assessor or check your assessor's accreditation details by visiting the Northern Ireland Energy Performance Certificate Register

Once you (or your agent) have commissioned an EPC, your energy assessor will receive basic details from you and will then arrange to come and visit your property to do the assessment.

During the assessment the energy assessor will be collecting information about your property, how and when it was constructed, the type of property (house, bungalow, mid-terraced, detached etc), number of habitable rooms , dimensions of the building, the number of floors, amount and type of glazing (single,double or triple glazing), heating systems and fuel used, etc.

This information will be fed into an approved software programme using a government approved standard energy assessment method to calculate the rating of the building. The software produces the EPC and the recommendation report for the property.

The energy assessor will lodge the EPC onto the Northern Ireland register and then provide you with a copy. You may also download futher copies directly from the register using your address or the 20 digit code on your certificate.  The energy assessor can also opt out your property so your EPC can only be retrieved using the 20 digit code on your certificate.

To whom must I give or show an EPC?

When you market your building for sale or rent, your agent will need the EPC as s/he is legally required to include the energy performance indicator from the certificate on any commercial media for that property. This could include brochures, newspaper advertisements and property websites. A simple 'for sale' or 'for let' board or sign would not require the energy performance indicator to be included.

When a potential buyer or tenant first makes an enquiry about a building or views the building they must be shown the EPC and recommendation report. This is the responsibility of either the seller or the agent acting on their behalf.

When a building is either sold or rented out, a copy of the EPC must be given to the eventual buyer or tenant.

Enforcement

If an EPC and an accompanying recommendation report have not been made available to you from the 'relevant person' (the owner, the landlord or the builder) you are entitled to contact the relevant enforcement authority who will pursue the matter on your behalf.

On 3 December 2009, district councils became the enforcement authorities for these regulations. If you have any enquiries regarding enforcement, or to report non-compliance, these should now be directed to Belfast City Council Building Control who will be co-ordinating enforcement on behalf of all district councils.

The department will continue to enforce the regulations in respect of all district council buildings. If your query relates to a district council property please contact the Energy Performance Unit. You can also view EPC questions and answers for further information.

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