Are Energy Performance Certificates Important? - By: James JR Robinson

Energy Performance Certificates are a measure that has been introduced to help to enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. These certificates have been introduced in the United Kingdom because buildings are responsible for around half of the carbon emissions in the UK. This may surprise some people, who may think that industrial activities and motor vehicles are responsible for the vast majority of carbon emissions.

Since buildings have been shown to be responsible for a high proportion of carbon emissions, efforts are now being made to rectify the situation. The amount of carbon emitted by a building will depend on the way it is built, insulated, heated and ventilated, along with the forms of energy that are used to power the heating, cooling and ventilation systems of the building. For example, there will be differences in the carbon emissions of a building if it uses oil heating compared with a gas or electrical heating system. Energy Performance Certificates for different buildings will therefore reflect the variables that are found in the systems installed and used in each particular structure.

Energy Performance Certificates are being introduced across Europe to reduce carbon emissions from buildings and to help combat climate change. Climate change is the phenomenon whereby emissions of 'greenhouse gases' like carbon dioxide cause the temperature of the surface of the earth to rise. This causes the polar ice caps to melt and the levels of the oceans to rise. It also causes extreme weather conditions such as floods and droughts. Carbon dioxide comes from various sources. As mentioned earlier, the most prevalent sources are from human activities. These include like vehicle exhausts, the heating of buildings and industrial processes.

Energy Performance Certificates have been required since the year 2008 whenever a building is constructed, sold or rented to tenants. This means that standards are now in place for improving the energy performance of buildings, and through this, helping to reduce the amount of carbon emissions across the globe. People buying or selling a property will need to have Energy Performance Certificates by law. Since the concept is enshrined in legislation, it would seem likely to be successful in achieving its objectives.

There are five ratings for Energy Performance Certificates, ranging from A to G. The ratings compare the current performance of the property with what the building could achieve if an average level of energy saving measures were in place. Buildings with A ratings are the most efficient, while homes with G ratings are the least efficient in terms of energy performance. This kind of rating system therefore enables benchmarks to be set for the improvement of the energy performance of a building. This rating system also enables people to gauge a building at a glance to establish whether it is an asset or a liability. This would be in terms of its energy performance, and whether it is helping or hindering mankind's efforts to rectify the impact made by human activities on the global climate change situation, which is of concern to many people these days.

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