London office landlords are being warned they need to urgently get the energy efficiency of their property portfolio in order or it will quickly become unlettable.
And SMEs – small to medium enterprises – are being accused of dragging their heels in the quest for UK businesses to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Simon Moffatt, London-based Partner at property consultancy Vail Williams, has issued a call to arms over efficient energy usage in the capital.
Hugely experienced Simon advises corporate and occupier clients on landlord and tenant lease advisory, agency acquisition, business rates and valuation and asset management strategies as part of Vail Williams’ London Occupier Advisory team.
He said: “The Government’s White Paper on minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) in privately-rented commercial buildings was published in March and confirms the previously stated policy that an EPC rating of B or above will be required from 2030.
“We await the results of consultation on this but fully expect this to become law so only questions of implementation, enforcement and delivery remain to be answered, thus investors, landlords and portfolio holders have a little over eight years to react.
“More pressing in the earlier deadline for compliance on EPC ratings of C or above which is April 2025, less than four years away. Decisions will have to be taken as to whether or not premises stand even a chance of making this rating.
“Many commercial offices in London still have large gas fire central heating boilers, fluorescent tube lighting and old double glazing and will require significant works just to meet 2025 C compliance, and realistically may never reach 2030 B rating without a complete strip out and refurbishment.
“Without substantial investment in refurbishment and redevelopment, the new regulations will depress or negate the letting potential, valuation, rent and investment hold decision strategies for older stock.
“So, stakeholders need to make decision now on how to get their letting stock in order. Like it or not, landlords and owner-occupiers need to take advice on how to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint by improving energy efficiency to ensure the ROI is protected and enhanced.”
Vail Williams’ London based Property Asset Manager Steve Hull, is already discussing with larger office clients how they will improve their buildings’ energy efficiency to meet the government’s stringent EPC minimum rating C standard for 2025. Steve believes it will get significantly busier as the implications of the changes are fully realised
Both Property Asset Management and Occupier Advisory teams at Vail Williams are now gearing up their services in order to service current instructions.
Simon, who has more than 35 years of commercial property experience, has also warned that the vast majority of SMEs may be sleepwalking to disaster.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s analysis of the latest Building Energy Efficient Survey (BEES) estimates that commercial premises account for 31 per cent of carbon emissions nationally.
Simon added: “If we are to reach net zero emissions by 2050, large scale action in all sectors of the economy will be required. Unfortunately, SME businesses, the bulk of the UK business base, just aren’t tackling how they’ll reduce their carbon footprints and that is worrying.
“According to new research from the British Chamber of Commerce, only 11 per cent of SME’s currently measure their carbon footprint.
“If so, how can the UK businesses commit to cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030 or even hope to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050 when they’re not even measuring it.
“I suspect they are not putting enough amps behind this due to several reasons, such as it looks too complicated, costly, and frankly unnecessary at this precise moment to develop.
“Business may feel they have more important issues staring them in the face, such as supply and transportation delays, price inflation, gas and electricity hikes and continuing Covid-19 and Brexit implications.
“The trouble is that doing nothing is not an option. You have to start somewhere and that could be a long hard look at your energy and efficiency usage via your EPC rating.”