Norfolk businesses must wake up to new energy rules

James Griffiths. Future 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill Smith James Griffiths. Future 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill Smith

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
12:49 PM

Businesses and commercial landlords have been warned not to be caught cold by new rules which mean that all commercial buildings must be deemed energy efficient before they can be let out.

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Future 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill SmithFuture 50 breakfast at Centrum. Photo: Bill Smith

Businesses and commercial landlords have been warned not to be caught cold by new rules which mean that all commercial buildings must be deemed energy efficient before they can be let out.

From 2018 commercial buildings will be required to have EPC (Energy Performance Certificates) detailing their green credentials - and landlords failing to secure the ratings - believed likely to be set at ‘E’ - will not, by law, be able to let out their properties.

Similar certificates already exist for domestic properties but fears have been raised that many firms are unaware that they need to comply with the new rules, which were introduced as part of the 2011 Energy Act.

And with landlords and firms likely to embark upon refurbishing their properties as the economy picks ups, there are concerns that cash could be wasted if the changes do not conform to the new ratings.

The issue surfaced during a Future50 breakfast at Norwich Research Park’s new Centrum building which looked at how entrepreneurs and start up firms could make the most of the opportunities linked to the green economy.

Martin Sleeuw, commercial manager for the Centre for the Built Environment, told the session that it was vital that businesses became aware of the proposed changes.

“It’s more a concern about leaving it too late,” he said. “If landlords are thinking that the market is picking up and they want to refurbish their space that’s the time to introduce carbon saving measures, because it’s more effective to do it as part of a package of works. I would frame that as as competitive advantage, not a threat.”

Murray Graham, partner at Lovewell Blake accountants and financial advisors, said: “It’s not in the psyche at the moment. We see it in the domestic market but I don’t think the commercial side has been well understood.”

But he said help could be at hand in the form of Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme, which offers a 100pc first year allowance for the purchase of certain energy saving plant and machinery allowing businesses to write off the entire cost of qualifying green technology against profits.

This could include air conditioning, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, insulation, refrigeration, and solar power.

However, firms needed to act quickly.

“You have got 100pc allowances up to £500,000, but it ends in 2015, so there is a window of opportunity to spend the money.”

Andrew Wood, an energy expert at law firm Birketts, said awareness was only slowly increasing about the issue.

He said: “Sleep walking into it is not too strong a word.”

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