Hot on the heels of news of the minimum energy performance requirements highlighted in an earlier blog, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that it intends to publish approximately 723,000 records relating to the energy performance of non-domestic buildings.
Is anything changing? Not on the face of it, as EPCs are already publicly available at www.epcregister.com (searchable by reference number or postcode). However, the DCLG is now proposing to release the underlying data that is used to produce them at address level, and presumably this will also be searchable by property address.
The DCLG says it is committed to facilitating suitable access to energy performance of buildings data, and that this information has value to researchers, local authorities and environmental organisations. It also says a copyright notice will be included, preventing the re-use of the addresses for commercial purposes, and use of the data will be subject to other (as yet unidentified!) conditions.
The good news is that commercial property owners who do not want their information published can opt out (and, indeed, opt back in) by visiting www.epcregister.com/opt-out/ before 16 January 2015. However, before they come to a decision, owners will need to weigh the possible negative impression that opting out could create against the benefits. They should consider whether they are happy for their ‘green credentials’ to be scrutinised to this degree, or whether they’d prefer to keep the data confidential and risk the accusation that unfavourable information is being concealed.
Holders of DECs (Display Energy Certificates) do not face the same decision, as they cannot opt out of disclosure. DECs show the actual energy use of a building and its operational rating (whereas EPCs are based upon the asset performance and don’t take occupier use into account) They are generally only relevant to public buildings over 500 square meters, although they can be prepared for private buildings on a voluntary basis.
So, act now, or forever hold your EPC…