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Environmentally friendly: Energy Performance

Heating and the EU Energy Performance Directive

Directive 2009/91/EC of the European Parliament and Council on the Energy Performance of Buildings came into force on 4th Jan 2003. It was designed to affect awareness of energy use in buildings and intended to lead to substantial increases in investments in energy efficiency within them. The legislation was put in place in January 2006 and affects all buildings, both domestic and non-domestic. The major responsibility for practical measures to meet the requirements fall on building services engineers. 160 million buildings in the EU use over 40% of Europe’s energy and create over 40% of its carbon dioxide emissions. Under the Kyoto protocol Europe is committed to reducing emissions and the Directive is intended to contribute to achieving this.

All European countries have to comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and our Government has decided that the best way to implement change is via the Building Regulations. There are of course other factors to be concerned with but the building regulations are the major hurdle. We will attempt to guide you through the legislation concerned with the “simple” task of installing or upgrading a heating system in an existing building.

In order to comply with the EU Performance of Buildings Directive our Government revised Part L of the building regulations in April 2006.  Part L covers the conservation of fuel and Power - Part L1 covering dwellings and Part L2 buildings other than dwellings – which is the area we are concerned with. These sections are then further subdivided into Part L2A which deals with new buildings and Part L2B which deals with existing buildings. This means that the energy consumption of a building is now an integral part of the building regulations and if an increase in energy occurs within an existing building then this is covered by Part L2B, stipulating minimum equipment efficiencies, types of control system etc. Although the legislation came into force in 2006 it has only been implemented since January 2009.

So how does this affect you?  Let us suppose that as the occupant and/or owner of premises you are intending to upgrade one of your working areas and this requires either new or additional heating. Typically when such a situation arises 3 mechanical service companies would be invited to submit quotations for what they propose would be a suitable system for the building.  Whilst most heating products meet the latest efficiencies required by Building regulations we find that very often the decision to proceed is based on the installed price irrespective of what is being offered.  Whilst cost is of course an important parameter choosing solely on price could be a dangerous course of action.  Unless you want to break the law – consideration of the amount of Energy the system will use and compliance with Part L should be the major factor in your decision. 

Another factor that must now be taken into consideration, which is part of this same regulation, is that if your building has a floor area greater than 1,000 sq.metres then at least 10% of the capital cost of the heating installation must be spent on improving the building efficiency in such a way that it achieves simple pay back within 15 years.  This is termed a “Consequential Improvement”.  This may appear a harmless enough addition but the interpretation being given by many Building Control departments is that unless you can prove that measures to improve the insulation of the Building will take longer than 15 years to pay back they will have to be carried out for you to increase the energy consumption within your premises.

Finally these works must be reported to and approved by your local Building Control department. This can be done by dealing directly with Building Control but it doesn’t take much imagination to foresee the costs and interruption of the works this might cause you. Imagine if you have a heater failure in the middle of winter and you are installing a slightly larger unit. A replacement will be required immediately and the last thing you need is an unnecessary delay.

Although this is beginning to sound a difficult process there are solutions.  The Government has made it possible for mechanical services contractors to self certify their installations.  Through Government Accredited schemes such as that devised by BESCA it is possible for mechanical service contractors to achieve “Certified Assessor” status.  (Please refer to This is a highly regulated qualification which allows members of the scheme to issue a certificate confirming that the installed system complies with Part L.  The contractor will also notify the Local Building Control satisfying his legal requirement to do so. This certificate should be kept in a safe place preferably with the building log book. The notification must be made within 30 days of the completion of the works and failure to do so can lead to fines of up to £5000 plus £50 for every day that the notification has not been made and if the system does not conform to Part L2B then you can be made to remove the system.

If you have chosen a contractor who knows what he is doing he will have assessed your building properly, how you operate your existing heating system and from this information design the best replacement system for your application.  The contractor should be aware that there are many heaters available that are listed on the Energy Technology list.  Under the Government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme administered by the Carbon Trust if heaters on the list are used in a heating system the end-user is able to offset the full cost of this system against its Corporation Tax liability in the year of purchase.  There are now even facilities to claim this investment back even if your company were to make a loss in that year.  This could amount to quite a saving (Please refer to

Following the process so far outlined you should have efficient heaters installed.  But can further efficiency improvements be made?  A good control system is imperative and should you be using equipment listed on the Energy Technology List it is mandatory to have an optimised control system fitted. An optimised controller is similar to the normal timed and thermostat control but in addition it is self learning. By self learning an optimised controller will vary the start and switch off time for the system according to the weather conditions and the building fabric. Certain systems can be expanded into full Building Management Systems (BMS systems) allowing control of any part of the system from a PC (either on site or remote) enabling close observation and the ability to check the operational history of the system and the energy used.

It is also well worth while considering installing a destratification system, particularly within a large tall building. Stratification occurs when heat rises. The rule of thumb is that the temperature in a building increases around 1 deg C per metre height of building so a 7 metre high building will be 7 deg C warmer at roof level than the required occupancy temperature. This is clearly not a good thing. It is energy wasteful and increases heat losses at roof level, also causing the building to heat up more slowly.  A system that returns heat back to the floor is called a destratification system and destratification is usually achieved using fans. There are many types of fans available but a properly designed system will not only prevent stratification but will also ensure a much better distribution of heat and lead to fuel savings of as much as 25%.

If you have followed the procedure so far outlined you will have a system that has been designed, installed and running well. You will have a Building Regulations certificate and the local authority Building Control will have been informed as required by law.

But is all the above necessary – surely you can fit a heating system without going through all this process?   Of course it is possible to completely ignore everything so far detailed.  But what if you decide to rent or sell part of your building in the future? 

Since Autumn 2008 you have been required to have a valid Energy Performance Certificate or EPC for any premises for sale or to let.  These certificates are similar to the ones that you see on appliances in electrical goods stores.  Without having such a certificate when you initially market the property you are technically breaking the law and could be fined.

In order to comply you will need an accredited assessor capable of providing such a certificate.  This is quite an intensive process, involving a thorough survey of the building fabric, the lighting, heating, air conditioning and use of the building. The information gathered is inputted into a computer programme that calculates the efficiency of your building and compares it to a brand new building and an average typical stock building. An important and legal addition to this certificate is that you will be given a list of recommendations suggesting how to improve the energy use of the building each one giving a high, medium or low priority.  These are computer generated recommendations based on the information recorded by the assessor.  However should the assessor require, he does have the ability to change these or make further suggestions.

At the moment there is no legal requirement to comply with the recommendations an assessor provides you with but you will be supplied with a certificate and recommendations and a further copy of the paperwork will be lodged on the register operated by or on behalf of the Secretary of State.  You will not be able to sell or rent the building without this certificate and recommendation report. Both these documents have a life span of 10 years and you must be able to produce a copy within seven days if requested by an Enforcement Authority under regulation 39 of SI 2007:991 or face a fine.

It is possible that if you have not obtained the Part L Building Regulations approval described above, for the installation of a new heating system, that this could become apparent at this stage.  Without such permission on file it is quite possible that this could jeopardise the sale or rent of the premises.

These new regulations are designed to make fuel and carbon savings.  There is no doubt that Energy efficiency will make a significant contribution in the fight against Climate Change.  Energy Efficiency will also have a significant effect on a company’s profitability as the recent energy price increases showed.  It is therefore very important that when you choose a mechanical services engineer, you choose carefully to ensure they know the way around the latest regulations and will also supply you with a first class efficient heating system.

James Howard - Harry Taylor

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