Understanding Scottish EPC requirements

At EPC Choice, we understand that the growing emphasis on sustainability has made energy ratings a significant factor in building transactions. We recognise that while many of our clients are well-versed with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) scheme in England and Wales, they might require guidance navigating the equivalent regulations in Scotland.

In England and Wales, the MEES regulations introduced in 2018 mandate a minimum energy standard for any property, including non-domestic/commercial ones, before they can be sold or leased. This essentially means that any property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating lower than an 'E' cannot legally be let, a standard set to rise to a minimum 'B' rating by 2030.

However, Scotland has its own regulations: The Climate Change Act Scotland 2009 (Section 63) and The Assessment of Energy Performance in Non-Domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016. These laws necessitate property owners to enhance energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions across non-domestic/commercial buildings. The regulations are different from England and Wales in that there's no minimum EPC rating to sell or lease a building over 1000m². The focus instead is on matching or surpassing the 2002 Scottish Building Regulations.

For all non-domestic properties in Scotland, an EPC is necessary upon construction, sale, or lease. This document, valid for ten years, can be reproduced during that period if needed. The EPC must be generated by an accredited non-domestic energy assessor.

Key aspects of the Section 63 legislation:

1. Applies only to the sale or lease of buildings in Scotland.
2. Only concerns buildings or building areas/floors over 1,000m² (10,764ft²).
3. An EPC for the building must be provided.
4. Where needed, a Section 63 assessment will be carried out, identifying improvements, and an Action Plan will be produced.
5. If improvements are made, a new EPC can show compliance with Section 63.
6. If improvements have not been carried out, the Action Plan outlines the steps for compliance, to be carried out within 42 months.
7. The EPC and Action Plan must be prepared before any negotiations.
8. EPCs and Action Plans should be given free of charge to potential buyers or tenants.
9. If no improvements have been made before the sale or lease, fines can be imposed.

If a building owner decides not to complete the improvements within 42 months, they can postpone by lodging a Display Energy Certificate (DEC), which offers information on the building's actual metered energy use and associated carbon emissions. This DEC must be lodged annually until the improvements are carried out.

Please note that EPC ratings between Scotland and England and Wales might not align due to differences in rating systems and calculation methodologies. For instance, a 'C' rating in England does not necessarily translate to a 'C' rating in Scotland.

There are exceptions to Section 63, including buildings with a floor area of less than 1,000m², temporary buildings with a life span of two years or less, workshops and agricultural buildings with low energy demand, prisons, young offender institutions, and buildings under the Green Deal scheme.

Future changes are expected in the legislation, with England and Wales preparing to increase the minimum EPC rating to a 'B' by 2030. The evolution of legislation in Scotland is still underway, with discussions focusing on revising Section 63 to necessitate more enhancements, setting minimum standards like the MEES in England and Wales, or adopting an operational ratings approach.

EPC Choice's EPC team in Scotland is well-equipped to provide expert advice about Section 63 compliance and assist in conducting EPC/Section