Government’s climate adviser urges Pickles not to ditch DECs

The government’s own adviser on climate change has added its voice to a chorus of calls to continue the current regime on display energy certificates (DECs) for public buildings. The influential Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises government on greenhouse gas emission targets and preparing for climate change, has written to communities secretary Eric Pickles questioning the government’s consultation on weakening or scrapping present legislation.

The CCC’s letter says, “Our analysis suggests that DECs are an important tool for identifying energy efficiency opportunities and, importantly, limiting the impact of rising energy prices on public finances.”

It concludes: “DECs continue to be the single most important source of information on operational energy use, both in public buildings and more widely on a voluntary basis”.

The UK Green Building Council, the Association for the Conservation of Energy, and National Energy Services are among those that have criticised government proposals to abandon the current DEC regime. Organisations including the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers and the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges urged their members to respond to the consultation, which closed yesterday.

CCC’s letter says DECs specifically promote:

  • Understanding of energy consumption, and scope to improve it, as DECs show operational energy demand benchmarked against building type
  • Learning about energy efficiency opportunities. CCC’s 2014 report on energy prices and bills found that, up to 2020, savings in energy bills of around 20% could be delivered through efficiency measures. More than half of these savings would come from low-cost measures such as energy management
  • Reduced energy costs for the public sector and the taxpayer. Although the government’s impact analysis for the consultation says there is no evidence of energy savings from DECs, evidence cited by the CCC gives a very different picture. It cites the study, Analysis of display energy certificates for public buildings: 2008 to 2012, prepared by University College London for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers in 2013. This study found improvements in 13 out of 14 building types in demand for heat, and nine out of the 14 building types cut electricity consumption.

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