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Robinson & Hall’s building and project consultancy team has been busy advising several clients on energy efficiency to be incorporated into refurbishment schemes, particularly bearing in mind the Government’s commitment to reduce carbon and increase efficiency of domestic and commercial buildings. The following case studies are typical of our involvement and the types of properties that make up a large proportion of the country’s building stock.

Commercial refurbishment

When the tenant of our client’s commercial property, located on the Elms Industrial Estate in Bedford, vacated, our client wished to refurbish the property to future proof it and update the property’s offering. Their aim was to also improve the D rated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to ensure that they could continue to let their property.

The property, which offered a mix of office and warehouse/ manufacturing space, was surveyed and data analysed from service records and the EPC to generate an overview of the current situation, before designing the enhancements.

A draft EPC was produced to determine the quantitative impact of the proposals and a scheme was generated to incorporate the following:

The works required planning consent and our in-house planning team prepared the full planning application and saw the application process through to receiving the approval.

We also project managed the construction works which included preparing the detailed specification, managing the tender process and acting as the Contract Administrator and Principal Designer under the CDM 2015 regulations.

David Sawford commented: “We are delighted that our efforts have allowed the rejuvenation of a dated, inefficient D rated commercial unit to an efficient and desirable property, which achieved an EPC rating of B.”

Residential refurbishment


Our clients purchased their dream house near Baldock in early 2022 following our detailed building survey. The attraction of the property was the rural location within a convenient distance of a railway station giving direct access to London. Although the property had some significant issues identified in our report, not least a faulty septic tank system, despite assurances given by the seller of a working system, they then embarked on a scheme of refurbishment over several phases under our project management.


The property is a 5 bedroom ex-farmhouse, mainly constructed in the Victorian period, but with a dilapidated and disused 1970s extension with a linked outbuilding. Firstly, immediate repairs were attended to including a new sewage treatment system. Following discussion on a revamp of the property, a phased scheme was devised to allow our clients to continue to inhabit the building while work was carried out. The house, located in a remote location, had an oil-fired central heating system so the view was taken to introduce energy saving measures during refurbishment. In the second phase, a ground source heat pump and underfloor heating was fitted to the useable living space. This area was fitted with improved floor, wall and ceiling insulation and a combination of internal and external wall insulation. The heat pump installation took advantage of a government grant of £6,000 under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. The works were completed in December 2022.

The third phase ran from June to December 2023, including full upgrade to the 1970s extension. This area had a new pitched slate roof to complement the main house. Advantage had been taken to install solar PV panels on this roof and linked up to a battery storage system, part supplying the requirements of the heat pump system. To complement the underfloor heating system, we designed and specified a significant thermal upgrade to the dilapidated 1970s extension. The works also included new thermally efficient windows and doors, insulated drylining, replacement ground floors and underfloor heating. It is anticipated that the original EPC ‘E’ rating of the house before work started will now become at least a ‘B’ rating. A more modest refurbishment of the linked outbuilding was also undertaken to provide a garden room and home gym.

Stuart Brown commented: “As the cost of energy continues to grow, we are seeing more people turn to renewable technology to generate their own energy and heat at home. We are pleased to assist our clients in reducing their dependency on fossil fuels.”

EPC legislation has been in statute since 2008 and there has been a progression of more stringent regulations to cajole property owners to do their bit for the Government’s net zero 2050 pledge via the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

A summary of the current legislation and those expected is detailed below.

The items highlighted in yellow are not yet set into statute and are pending Government announcements.

For advice, please contact David or Stuart.

Since the Government announced its target to be net zero by 2050, it has introduced various measures as part of its roadmap to reach its goal. However, you ask people about the Heat and Buildings Strategy (the critical document relating to reaching minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) levels) and people just look at you blankly!

Everyone wants to contribute towards being more energy efficient but there is a wealth of information out there and much conflicting advice, which just leads to confusion.

“Should I get a gas boiler while I can?”

“Should I invest in a new air source heat pump?”

“What can I do with my own property to help climate change?”  

“Should I join the solar revolution?”

There are lots of questions and the general impression is that there is not enough public knowledge and awareness on how to make changes to their property so that it complies.

All commercial landlords should be checking the EPC ratings of their properties as this will help them decide if they are going to arrange for energy efficiency upgrades, or sell the property before the Government legislation tightens. We are also hearing of many financial institutions restricting lending, as they take into consideration any poorly rated EPC properties in a landlord’s portfolio. This is not only for new lending but also placing a much greater emphasis on only energy efficient properties when refinancing existing loans.

With more and more emphasis on energy efficiency and achieving minimum EPC ratings, there is a great opportunity to plan sensible improvements and ensure you don’t get left behind.

Property leases are already changing to reflect more efficient buildings and the cost of energy is still very high. It’s critical you obtain the correct advice. Please also see the link to our previous article here on why it makes sense to review your commercial EPC now.

If you require help on how to review your commercial EPC and the changes you need to make so you don’t get caught out, then please give Robert Franklin, Head of Architecture & Building Surveying, a call on 01234 362917 or email rjf@robinsonandhall.co.uk

More changes are on their way regarding the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for commercial properties in the UK.

Energy efficiency is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment. The Government has committed to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 and the message is clear that change is definitely on its way. We are unlikely to see any further significant delays to the proposed legislation as a result of the recent pandemic, therefore action is needed sooner rather than later.

Current position

The current position regarding MEES, which has been in place since 1st April 2018, is that it is unlawful for a landlord to grant a new tenancy of a commercial property with an EPC rating of lower than E (unless an exemption applies).

1st April 2023 – minimum EPC rating of E for all existing leases

The important fact that all commercial landlords need to be aware of is that from 1st April 2023, this same rule will apply to all existing leases. This means that subject to limited exemptions, it will soon be unlawful for a landlord to continue to let a commercial property with an EPC rating of less than E.

The time to consider your current portfolio is now.

Government to increase EPC rating to B

The Government continues to review the legislation and has recently consulted on proposals to increase the MEES target for all commercial property even further to a minimum EPC rating of B by 2030.

In addition, a landlord of a rented property will need to have an EPC at all times. At the moment, a property is only in the scope of the MEES regulations if there is a valid EPC in place. This has created a loophole for properties that do not currently have a valid EPC, i.e. an existing EPC has not been renewed after 10 years. However, this loophole will soon be closed. We will know more information when further guidance is issued at the end of 2021.

Further issues to consider

Under the relevant regulations, it is the landlord’s responsibility to comply with MEES and all costs currently fall on them. However, an occupier will not be able to sub-let unless they can demonstrate they comply under the MEES regulations.

Certain exemptions are already in place and we can advise you whether your property falls within one of these categories. It is proposed that a new central database of compliance and enforcement be set up where landlords will submit their compliant EPCs or details of any exemptions. Any exemption will need to be reviewed every 5 years to ensure it remains valid under the regulations.

A clarification has been provided that a listed building should have an EPC but will be able to apply for an exemption if the MEES standard cannot be practically achieved, i.e. by virtue of such works being incompatible with planning or listed building criteria.

The perils of obtaining an accurate EPC are well documented in previous articles on our website. Needless to say, if the Government continues to place so much emphasis on EPCs then it is imperative you obtain the correct advice and an accurate EPC.

Non-compliance brings the risk of high financial penalties. There may not have been many high profile examples, however this is about to change. Bedford Borough Council has recently announced it intends to clamp down on domestic landlords who continue to ignore the legislation. Other local authorities will follow suit and also include commercial properties, as they see this as an easy way of raising revenue. So you have been warned.

How can we help?

We can help you make your properties more energy efficient. Whether it’s improving insulation, lighting or heating, we can guide you through all the regulations and ensure you futureproof your assets. If you’re considering refurbishing or converting a property, please include us at an early stage as many of these aspects can easily be designed and incorporated in your building works and trying to do them retrospectively can be expensive and indifferent.

Any changes you consider will make your property more attractive to potential tenants and should ultimately make it easier to let at a higher rent.

Regardless of the Government’s final response to the consultation, it is clear change is on its way. Be prepared and start planning now.

If you require more information or would like to discuss how we can help make your property more energy efficient, please contact Robert.