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Free Energy Performance Certificate from the HIP

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 12-Jun-08 03:16:18 AM

Energy Performance Certificates torn from Home Information Pack straightjacketThis is a follow-up to a blog post written a little over a week ago: Energy Performance of UK is Directionless, as promised.

Briefly, it highlighted a week of fuel protests in the UK; power cuts; the Prime Minister's plea for more North Sea oil; an admission (by the PM) that oil prices will remain high; and panicked talk of the need to switch to nuclear energy.

A week in which, finally, Govt - possibly - noticed the UK's fuel meter flashing red.

Fast forward the rewind

A lot's happened...

Last week, another record oil price of $139/barrel (prev high: $135) was smashed. Yesterday, chief executive of Gazprom, the huge Russian energy giant, predicted that the "oil price will reach $250 per barrel in 2009."

Dismissing speculation as the root cause, he added: "The competition for resources is growing and the tendency is very noticeable.”

It's kicking off!

And so the last two days:

  • fuel protests across Europe kill two
  • truckers clash with Spanish riot Police;
  • trucks set alight;
  • in some areas panic buying leads to food shortages;
  • a lack of parts and fuel halt Spanish car factories.

In Portugal, fuel deliveries are made to Lisbon airport under Police escort after running out of fuel. At Portela airport, fuel is rationed to emergency, military and state flights only.

Truckers protesting fuel prices back in 2000

The UK is about to be given a formal warning by the EU to rein in the gap between our revenues and expenditure - We're a net oil importer of expensive oil, now, don't forget = cash going out.

If you were reading all this in a history book looking back on the collapse of some past civilisation, it might seem obvious that this is just but the first symptoms of something that's been incubating for some years.

Your tutor might ask: "What should Governments do to prevent further chaos?"

It should release the Energy Performance Certificate from the Home Information Pack (HIP) and let it be the vehicle for reducing energy consumption and waste, as intended.

The HIP is now a coughing mule incapable of delivering its cargo to the finishing line, in time... and here's why.

The shackles of the housing market

The latest snapshot of the housing market, from statistics released by Rightmove and the Nationwide building society, confirmed what many estate agents have been experiencing already: market contraction.

In his blog, Neil Kurz of NRG Experts, recently described activity at his estate agency as, 'absolutely dire'. He wrote:

There simply are no buyers out there, the number of actual house sales has dropped a cliff and sellers are not yet dropping their prices. We have now hit the stage where those people who do not need to move are not even bothering to market their property as they know it will not sell.

NRG Experts - Nationwide Providers of EPCs

Now, I know Neil - amongst others (possibly you) - is vehemently opposed to the idea of 'decoupling' the Energy Performance Certificate from the Home Information Pack (HIP).

If you share that view - Totally understandable. But it needn't mean the loss of opportunity necessarily. And besides, what is the choice?

With the economy descending from its highest altitude, a premature stall, first caused by unaffordable fuel and energy prices - later widespread rationing and all that entails - would result in a tailspin near impossible to correct. In quick order, the very fabric of civilised society would unweave.

Estate agents refuse instructions

Rightmove's House Price Index suggests that some estate agents are already refusing to accept properties that are similar to others not selling:

...those with experience of previous downturns recognise there are big costs in burdening yourself with even more over priced stock.

The number of unsold properties sitting on estate agency shelves, the stats report, hit a national average of 73 - a rise from 69 on the previous month. Rightmove described the increase as "the highest ever figure Rightmove has measured since records began in August 2002."

Fewer home sellers = fewer HIPs = fewer EPCs

Several Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs), and independent HIP providers, have recently posted their own accounts of fewer instructions on the Home Inspector Forum too; evidence, perhaps, of the trickle-down effects of fewer home sellers. Although one is reminded that there is no comparable; this being the first year of implementation.

Nonetheless, we have all read the press reports of estate agency closures in recent weeks.

New-build construction - Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH)

Builders are abandoning housing projects, and figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published last month, revealed that industry construction orders plummeted 16% on the previous quarter, whilst commercial build fell by 8%.

Those figures are already outdated. The current trajectory for domestic new-build is now in steeper decline. On Wednesday (4th June 08), analysts at UBS warned that "housebuilders' sales volumes for the full year were likely to fall at least 30 per cent".

Tighter lending conditions will halt new construction projects - it's happening already.

The goliaths of the building industry will struggle to service interest payments on existing debt with reduced sales.

Cost of raw materials soar 28%

Figures released on Monday (9th June 08) by the ONS, show that the cost of raw materials entering the factory gate (input costs), last month, soared by a phenomenal 28% over this time last year. Output costs - the price of finished goods leaving the factory - increased 8.9%; the highest annual margin increase in 26 years!

Expect higher inflation and interest rates.

3 million new low carbon homes under pressure

The hostile environment for builders is not helped by the additional challenges and costs of meeting the new Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) legislation, which was set in motion last month as part of a key Govt. vehicle for delivering 2 million 'zero carbon' homes by 2016 (3 million by 2020).

Never mind new-build!

Around 80% of the housing stock that will be around in 2050, is here, now.

That's according to a report by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, which, I discovered, is an ally to this call.

The report, Home Truths, accuses the Govt of failing to "set out effective policies to significantly reduce emissions from the homes we already live in."

Free the EPC

It is surely time to recognise that holding the EPC hostage to the uncertain ebbs-and-flows of property transactions alone, is no way to safeguard the energy security of this nation, let alone meet Govt and EU targets for reducing carbon emissions by 80%, before 2050.

Existing housing: 'Start with the tools to-hand and pick up the rest as you go'

The quickest and most cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption, begins at home.

A solar panel arraySimple basic measures like insulation (in all its forms - cavity etc.) and energy efficient appliances etc... does take the pressure off, enormously. Doing that means renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic's, wind and solar energy/heating etc... truly become effective - and realistic - safety nets.

Reducing our high energy consumption and waste enables us to slide down the oil supply curve with fewer painful whacks.

To manage the descent we need to know where we are... enter the Energy Performance Certificate.

During her record-breaking round the world adventure, Ellen MacArthur (see inset), had to know the energy consumption of onboard equipment, and how much was stored (in batteries) to operate it - She needed this information because that's the deal with solar and the rest of it.

Sailing the currents

Ellen MacArthur, around the world record-breaking yachtswoman:

"'re completely, above all, tuned into those resources, and you're constantly thinking: what the battery voltage is; you're constantly thinking, when's the sun gonna come out for the solar panels - you're constantly tuned into it, and that was a big shock to me, coming back".

"From day to day you manage those resources carefully", she said. "You'd never leave the lights on; you'd never leave a computer screen on; you'd never waste food and you'd never waste water because you need to use the water-maker to create it."

Speech given to CIBSE's Low Carbon Performance Awards 2008

Ellen MacArthur now speaks on energy efficiency and resource management, drawing on her experience of surviving with precious little of it.

The Energy Performance Certificate is the only mechanism we have to collate this information. The missing trick, however, is turning it into targeted action.

So that is where we must start, like today!

Strengthen and deploy

A strengthened EPC which better reflects the actual energy performance of the building (meaning less reliant, as far as possible, on calculations derived from a notional building "averaged-out" to a national sampling) - could be used to quickly deliver the appropriate recommendations of the EPC.

Green Homes Service 

When coupled to a much simplified and streamlined grant system, the EPC would auto-trigger the necessary improvements recommended - The new Green Homes Service (GHS) is the obvious candidate for the task, providing a head-start.

Estate agents, panels, HIP providers, suppliers, various sectors of building industry plus others and beyond, could be re-invigorated by the kick-start. Economies of scale would quickly drive down costs and stimulate further renewable solar and wind manufacturing to a level many more people could afford, so reducing the burden on grants.

And with workers being laid-off because of our slowing economy, what better timing to fill all these new vacancies.

Domestic Energy Assessors work at full capacity

And this is where I win your vote...

All 11,000+ DEAs - existing and potential - would be put to work; another head-start.

The HIP remains too. So all you estate agents and HIP providers reading... can draw breath again now!

If we adopt the policy recommendation of the Home Truths report, then no home bearing an EPC rating below G can be sold, rising to D over time until all homes meet a minimum standard. The report claims this would reduce heat loss in the average house by half.

Power down

As we "power-down", a new economy emerges as products and services adapt to a more local-centric way of living. If we get it right, it is feasible we could enjoy a content life with electricity, internet, water, housing, emergency services, food.

I do concede, however, that reaching the end-goal without pain or loss, is a questionable hope, simply because of the time-scales involved... but it's a percentage game, remember.

An intelligently managed descent - whilst we still have a full working week; a transport system; and an orderly food supply system etc. - will offer the surest chance of landing safely... or at least closer to a winning percentage chance of it.

The EPC is a tool which could manage a swift change to the energy consumption of this country - and Europe - but not whilst the vehicle used to deliver it, is itself stalling.

Get listed on the DEA locater - FREE!

Posts: 1
Re: Free Energy Performance Certificate from the HIP
Reply #1 on : Thu June 12, 2008, 13:29:17
The sale of Non- Domestic property requires an EPC but does not involve having a HIP. Clearly the same could readily apply to the Domestic market.

If we are serious about conserving resources then an EPC should be able to stand alone without being dragged down by being part of a HIP.

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