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Overview Guide to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in Scotland

An EPC, Energy Performance Certificate, is required for all types of property including commercial and residential property when let or sold in the UK and throughought the EU. 

An Energy Performance Certificate provides information on the CO2 and energy performance of the building and details on how to improve it.

Metro Commercial was  formed in 2008 to provide Energy Performance Certificate services for commercial and non-domestic buildings.

We can provide you with non-domestic EPCs for all properties including retail, office, industrial, leisure and other non-domestic properties.

The building sector accounts for 40% of the EU’s energy requirements. It offers the largest single potential for energy efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions

Background to Climate Change

The effects of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) contributing to climate change have been and continue to be widely publicised. Buildings in the UK account for a substantial part of Carbon Dioxide emissions, a major greenhouse gas (GHG) contributor.

The United Nations Framework Convention

Over a decade ago, the majority of world countries joined an international treaty; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC started up to consider what could be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases were inevitable.

The Kyoto Protrocol

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force with effect from February 2005. 183 Parties of the Convention have ratified its Protocol to date. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the Marrakesh Accords.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This amounts to an average of 5% reduction against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Carbon Dioxide is a major greenhouse gas (GHG).

A pie chart with energy usage in the European Union

Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

The Directive (2002/91/EC) on the energy performance of buildings, was introduced to Europe in January 2003  with the aim to provide for an ambitious step-ahead to increase the energy performance of public, commercial and private buildings in all Member States. At the time the UK was a member state of the EU.

Research shows that more than 20% of the present energy consumption and up to 30-45 Mega Tonnes of CO2 a year could be saved by 2010 by applying more ambitious standards to new and when refurbishing buildings. This would represent a considerable contribution to meeting the Kyoto targets.

The Directive sets out common strategies for the individual Member States to follow, but stops short of specifying the amount of energy or carbon dioxide levels to be saved by these measures. Consequently, it is for each Member State or region of the Member State to interpret and implement the Directive in a way that aligns best with their current (or proposed) building legislation.

Article 17 of this Directive states “This Directive is addressed to the Member States”. In view of this, the Government must intervene, non-compliance with any part of the directive was and still is, not an option.

The Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) formally known as EU legislation (Directive 2002/91/EC) addresses the following areas through it’s Articles.

An EPC for a commercial property comes in three parts; the main certificate with the distinctive EU energy graph, an energy label, an outputs page and a recommendations section. The recommendations section highlights basic ways to improve energy efficiency whilst improving the EPC rating.

EPBD in the UK

EPCs in the UK have been introduced as a result of the European Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD). New legislation has been passed relating to the requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to be produced in certain circumstances.

EPBD in Scotland

The As of 4th January 2008 it will become a legal requirement to provide an EPC for commercial buildings sold or leased.

In Scotland, an EPC displays the approximate CO2 emissions and energy usage of the building based on a standardised use of the building. The rate is expressed as the CO2 emissions in kg per m2 of floor area per year, and it determines where the building sits on a seven band scale from A to G.

The EPC to be made available is the most recent valid certificate obtained in respect of the building.

Although an EPC for a building is valid for a period of 10 years from the date on which it was issued building owners often update EPCs following energy improvements.

EPC requirements in Scotland

A valid EPC rating must be displayed omn marketing material. An EPC must be made available free of charge by the seller or landlord to a prospective buyer or tenant where buildings are sold or let. A lease renewal is does not require an EPC.

Buildings exempt from an EPC

Buildings that do not require an EPC are temporary buildings with a planned time of use of two years or less, workshops and non-residential, Agricultural buildings with low energy demand and stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m2 which are not dwellings.


In addition to an owner / landlord of a building being unable to sell or lease a building with no EPC the landlord will be exposed to enforcement through financial penalties and criminal prosecution.

As with the enforcement of other building regulations, it is the local authority that will enforce compliance through Section 25 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. Where a building does not have a EPC the local Authority must serve a notice on the owner.

Where the landlord / owner fails to comply then the landlord is guilty of an offence and the local authority may carry out such works as is necessary and may recover the expenses from the owner.

EPCs are commonly requested by lenders and purchasers.

EPCs for Public buildings in Scotland

In addition to all commercial buildings, all public buildings over 1,000 m2 require to have an EPC attached to the building and displayed in a prominent place such as an entrance foyer. Public buildings include council offices with public access, colleges, hospitals, local authority buildings, libraries.

An EPC is regarded as a fixture and will require to be attached to the building internally.

Calculation basics of an EPC

The calculation compares the total energy consumption of the building and its services, expressed as carbon dioxide emissions of the building being evaluated, referred to as BER on the certificate.

A target value is calculated which is known as the Target Emissions Rate (TER) and this is derived from a notional building related to the 2002 Building Regulations with an improvement factor and Low and Zero Carbon (LZC) factor.

Specialist software is used in the calculation of the CO2 per m2 and to create Energy Performance Certificates.

Calculation components for an EPC

The calculation process involves several stages broken down into three basic but involved areas as follows.

  1. Geometry and activity. The building is measured and ‘zoned’ with different building envelopes created. The envelopes of each zone are defined. The envelopes of each zone are walls, floors, ceilings, glazing etc. The orientation and condition of adjoining zones is defined.
  2. Construction and fabric. The construction used within each envelope element is defined including glazing and doors.
  3. Building Services. The Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Hot Water System (HWS) and boiler systems are assigned to each zone.


Energy performance in buildings is increasingly playing an important role in occupiers and investors requirements. Occupiers are already asking the question about ratings when considering new space and as this process evolves it is likely that the EPC rating is becoming more important.

It is likely that incentives will be introduced to improve the energy performance of rated buildings and these incentives will impact on the investment and letting market.

The Scottish and UK government has adopted the original energy in buildings directive and energy certification is an important regulation.

Stay up to date with news, ideas and new regulation.

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