The New Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) Includes HVAC Systems.
The Energy Act 2011 requires UK Government to introduce regulations to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by April 2018 across England and Wales.
Non-domestic and commercial properties are responsible for almost 20% of the UK’s energy consumption, and around 12% of CO2 emissions are generated from powering, heating and cooling these buildings. However, recent legislative targets have been determined from the new regulations that are widely being referred to as Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) that aim to minimise the energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
A result of European Union Directive 2002/91/EC relating to the energy performance of buildings, in April 2008 the UK Government introduced Non-domestic Energy Performance Certificates, or EPC’s as they are more commonly known. The introduction of the EPC means that all buildings including offices, retail premises, factories and public sector buildings, will have an Energy Performance Certificate whenever the building is sold, built or rented. An EPC provides an energy efficiency rating between A and G for a specific property, where A is highly energy efficient and G being not at all energy efficient.
Environmental Impact Rating
One of the biggest contributors to global warming is carbon dioxide, and with the introduction of the EPC also came the Environmental (CO2) Impact Rating of a building, which uses the same rating scale to demonstrate the overall CO2 emissions and environmental impact of a property. The Environmental Impact Rating of a building is calculated by applying ‘carbon factors’ for the fuels that are used for the overall energy use.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems (HVAC) are responsible for a large portion of the energy consumption in a commercial or non-domestic property. Inefficient or poorly designed HVAC systems can cause a severe negative impact on energy consumption.
Since January 2011 the energy performance and efficiency of a HVAC system has been incorporated into the EPC rating for a building. Therefore, air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kW are required to be inspected as per the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2007. It is mandatory for an accredited Energy Assessor to visit a property to conduct an energy assessment on HVAC systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kW within commercial and non-domestic properties at least once every five years. During the assessment they collect information on the property, and details of its dimensions, construction and HVAC provision to establish the energy rating and to be able to incorporate this into the EPC of the property.
Currently, about 20% of commercial and non-domestic buildings in the UK fall between the F and G ratings on an EPC and a large proportion of these are within the manufacturing industry. However, in order for the UK to achieve the new legislative targets, we must ensure that all commercial and non-domestic buildings CO2 emissions reach levels that are ‘close to zero’ by 2050. This means that all buildings in England and Wales should rate B or above (C being acceptable) on the EPC.
What happens next?
During consultation of the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) state that they plan to initially target the least energy efficient non-domestic rented properties, those that have the biggest environmental impact (rating F/G on the EPC). These properties waste energy which causes an unnecessary cost on business and the wider economy, and a contributing factor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore non-domestic private rented sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations must be in force for these least energy efficient properties by 1 April 2018, and will require all eligible properties in the sector to be improved to a specified minimum standard by April 2023.
What are the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) going to achieve?
Although the main objective of the MEPS is to lower CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint that is generated from buildings and energy usage, there are additional intentions that look to benefit the economy in the long term. By improving the energy efficiency of properties, it will help to even out seasonal peaks in energy demand, and thereby increase energy security in the UK. This is also likely to support growth and jobs within the green construction industry and the wider supply chain for energy efficiency measures. Greater competition within these markets may also spur innovation, lowering the end costs of installation and help sustain jobs.
The introduction of the MEPS has seen a mixed response. And although the majority of building regulators and authoritative bodies have welcomed the consultation, the new legislation is going to have a significant impact on manufacturing premises, more specifically the maintenance and engineering required for its utilities, plant and HVAC systems.
What do I need to do now?
Clean air specialists HVDS highly recommend arranging an inspection of the HVAC systems within commercial and non-domestic properties. Not only will this establish the energy efficiency of the air handling and air conditioning systems in line with the new EPC requirements, but it will also provide an insight into potential efficiency improvements. Which could save on unnecessary energy costs and reduce carbon footprint.
If you would like more information about the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) or Energy Efficiency advice within your manufacturing environment, please contact us.