ENERGY EFFICIENCY: CONSIDERING THE BUILDING ENVELOPE

 Despite the fanfare surrounding the launch of the government’s Green Deal back in January 2013, there are strong signs this energy efficiency scheme is perhaps not working as effectively as it could in the commercial sector.

In July 2014, the consultation for the Minimum Energy Performance Standards revealed that the Green Deal Finance Company is no longer offering funds for non-domestic plans. According to Bill Wright from the Electrical Contractors Association, only one commercial plan is currently in place under the scheme, hinting that the Green Deal is doing little to reduce the carbon footprint of Britain’s businesses.

Many commentators agree that the Green Deal doesn’t work for commercial property for reasons including that most UK companies work out of leased premises and aren’t always the sole tenants, so are often reliant on landlords giving permission for the retrofitting needed. Add to that the upfront costs of a commercial Green Deal, the fact that interest rates on annual loan repayments are seven to eight per cent and that most commercial leases are for less than five years, and there are plenty of reasons for companies to avoid becoming involved.

Therefore, the responsibility for taking out a commercial Green Deal often lies with the landlord. However, a large number of companies pay their energy bills as part of a building’s service charge and many landlords are wary of increasing their financial demands on tenants further, to cover the scheme’s costs, in a competitive property market.

Despite this, the Green Deal should not be ignored by commercial landlords. By 2016, a landlord shouldn’t be able to refuse a tenant’s reasonable request for consent to install Green Deal measures. Furthermore, in 2018 it will be illegal for them to rent properties privately without these meeting a minimum energy efficiency standard, likely to be set at EPC rating ‘E’.

Improving the energy efficiency of commercial businesses is desirable, not least because it could have a huge impact on the economy. The Carbon Trust has estimated that a 35 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, achieved using cost-effective measures, could save the UK economy at least £4bn by 2020.

Steadmans supports the Green Deal and would like to see it working more effectively. However, to avoid the current practical hurdles associated with it, there is a lot to be said for ensuring the fabric of a commercial property is energy efficient right from the outset.

One of the key stepping stones to achieving energy efficiency is often effective insulation. The Carbon Trust has a very clear diagram on its website which shows how around 60 per cent of office heat is typically lost through the fabric of the building – including 22 per cent through the roof and nine per cent through the walls.

Steadmans’ range of AS35 insulated roof and wall panels is available in a range of sizes and colours and can be specified to achieve insulated U-values to aid compliance with the latest L2 regulations. The range now includes a 137mm thick option with a U-value of 0.17, which offers excellent thermal performance, largely thanks to the PIR core’s low conductivity. It also has a predicted service life of 40 years. All Steadmans’ panels are manufactured in a quality process certified to ISO 9001:2008 using non-ozone depleting technology.

The company’s Dobel Nova acrylic coating provides a green alternative to mainstream finishes, which can add to a building’s eco-friendly credentials. The coating is available at no extra cost across the entire range of Steadmans products and a wide range of extremely colour-fast shades is on offer. Dobel Nova is 100 per cent recyclable and contains no PVC or isocyanurates. It is also guaranteed for up to 30 years and has a tough and durable 50-micron coating. It has outstanding scratch and UV resistance, plus weathering properties, and repels dirt more effectively than other finishes, as it contains no plasticisers.

Together, Steadmans’ AS35 panels and Dobel Nova coating provide an ideal eco-friendly enhancement for many construction projects.

For more information call Steadmans on 01697 478 277 or email info@steadmans.co.uk