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Display Energy Certificates

A Display Energy Certificate (DEC) measures energy performance based on actual annual energy usage.

The operational rating is a numeric indicator of the amount of energy consumed during the occupation of the building over a period of 12 months, based on meter readings or data provided by the utility company. The indicators of operational performance are annual carbon dioxide emission per unit of area of the building caused by its consumption of energy, and benchmarked to a value that would be considered typical for the particular type of building.

In England and Wales a Display Energy Certificate is require for all public buildings whilst in Scotland a public building requires an Energy Performance Certificate.

Regional DEC variances

It's worth highlighting that the requirements for Display Energy Certificates differ between regions within the United Kingdom. In England and Wales, public buildings larger than 250 sq m are legally required to have a Display Energy Certificate. In contrast, Scotland mandates Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for public buildings. This regional variation reflects the broader legal framework governing energy efficiency certification in each area.

Advantages of using DECs to measure energy efficiency in buildings

Display Energy Certificates offer several advantages to building owners and tenants.

  • Firstly, they provide a clear understanding of a building's energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. This knowledge enables stakeholders to identify areas of inefficiency and prioritize energy-saving initiatives.
  • DECs promote transparency and accountability by publicly displaying a building's energy performance. This not only raises awareness among occupants and visitors but also encourages competition and motivation to improve efficiency.
  • Finally, DECs serve as a valuable tool for compliance with energy-related legislation, ensuring that building owners fulfill their obligations and avoid penalties.

Using DECs in Scotland

In Scotland the production of an annual DEC is a way of deferring any required Section 63 Action Plan improvements as in the The Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016.

Under those regulations, a building owner chooses to report annual operational energy use, the Display Energy Certificate (DEC) must be lodged to the Scottish EPC Register annually.

DECs as a route to ESOS compliance

As a route to Building owners and building tenants may elect to implement Operation Rating measures voluntarily or in response to other legislative requirements, such as the UK Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)4 which requires energy audits and reporting on the performance by most large (non-SME) companies.

In such cases, building owners should be aware of any reporting requirements imposed by legislation, for example, obtaining both a DEC and the accompanying Advisory Report.


Display Energy Certificates are essential tools for assessing and improving the energy performance of buildings. By measuring actual annual energy usage, DECs provide valuable insights into a building's operational efficiency and environmental impact.

Whether mandated by legislation or implemented voluntarily, DECs offer benefits such as energy savings, public awareness, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Building owners and tenants should prioritise the implementation of DECs and leverage the accompanying Advisory Reports to drive energy efficiency and contribute to reducing operating costs and  improving sustainability.

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