Government announces low carbon commercial law changes consultation at Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Greentech event

Published: Thursday, 17th October 2019

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Greentech held an event for commercial landlords and other interested parties on the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for non-domestic building.

The event was supported by the government, with representation from the senior civil servant on the issue from Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

About the event

This was the first opportunity for local businesses and landlords to hear about and respond to the new BEIS proposals to improve energy efficiency in Commercial Private Rental Sector, announced by the government on Tues 15 October. Dominic Humphreys, Policy Lead on Business Energy Use at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), led a session on ‘Understanding the Government’s Perspective’.

Oxford provided the ideal location for this event with its pioneering new approaches to zero carbon, having declared a climate emergency this year and as the first city in the UK to hold a Citizens Assembly on climate change. The assembly is considering buildings as a major carbon contributor, as outlined in the recent Anthesis report that found 81% of total emissions in Oxford comes from buildings.

The event, opened by Councillor Tom Hayes the Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, was attended by around 70 landlords and industry representatives, there to hear about the government’s consultation on energy efficiency in the non-domestic private rented sector. This aims to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2030 across the this sector, which accounts for approximately 1.1 million non-domestic buildings and uses approximately 35% of the UK energy consumption (excluding industrial process).

Government standards

Existing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) became law from 1st April 2018, and prohibited a landlord from either renewing or granting a new let on a property which falls below an E rating in the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), unless the landlord registers an exemption. The new proposals would increase the standard to a B rating by 2030.

Government estimates that their proposals could see businesses saving up to £1bn per year on energy bills by 2030. According to government research in 2015, for most businesses, 67% of energy consumption was used to provide building services such as heating, ventilation, cooling, hot water and lighting, with only 33% of energy consumption related to sector-specific activity end uses.

“Latest figures show that buildings account for 81% of the city’s carbon emissions. We won’t become a Zero Carbon Oxford unless we all solve our buildings emissions problem, and raising the energy efficiency of buildings is critically important.

“I’m delighted that the Government’s policy lead on buildings’ energy came to talk to Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire Greentech’s energy efficiency conference, especially as they were able to share hot off the press news about the Government’s proposal to tighten minimum commercial energy efficiency requirements in leased assets by 2030.

“Oxford City Council has declared a climate emergency and Oxford’s Citizens’ Assembly has been looking at how to reduce emissions from buildings, with a view to shaping council policy. We support the aim of improving energy efficiency and commercial landlords already need to be planning how they will meet the climate emergency targets of the City Council.

“Improved standards can save significant sums as well as protect our planet. All businesses should be taking the opportunity to read and respond to the government’s plans, so that the proposed changes are radical and practical. We need to me making big changes to energy management and going further and faster down the road to a Zero Carbon Britain.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford

“We have long held ambitions to support and grow the local low carbon industries and it is great working with our Oxford City Council partners to be able to connect businesses not only with these important and ground breaking proposals, but also the best industry practices and examples of how to achieve them.

“The event was a success in every possible way, introducing solution providers to commercial landlords and highlighting innovative opportunities for everyone to save money and ultimately improve their businesses.”

Nicole Lazarus, Director of Oxfordshire Greentech