Accelerating investment in energy efficiency is essential if the UK’s commercial property sector is to meet the strengthened Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) that come into force on 1 April, says lighting manufacturer Tamlite Lighting.
Introduced eight years ago, the MEES legislation stated that property owners or landlords could not grant a tenancy to new or existing tenants of properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. From April this year, those requirements will apply to existing leases too, meaning it will be unlawful to continue to let properties with an F or G rating.
Tamlite has long championed the retrofit of legacy real estate with low carbon technologies including modern LED lighting systems, coupled with intelligent control networks. The company believes that with the replacement of outdated lighting, buildings can be more efficient, generating energy savings of between 60% to 80%. For commercial landlords, this may be the difference between a building being lettable, or unlettable under the forthcoming legal changes.
The news that all let commercial properties will need to have a minimum EPC rating of E has sent shockwaves throughout the UK property market. Recent research by real estate firm Savills has indicated that the changes could mean 185 million sq ft of all retail space in the UK could soon become ‘unlettable’. Whilst a 2023 study from BNP Paribas Real Estate focused on inner London suggested that 8% of existing commercial stock in that region could be impossible to let after 1 April, 2023.
Failure to comply with the strengthened MEES legislation means significant fines for those who fail to bring their let commercial properties up to standard. The onus is on property owners and landlords to make the necessary changes – and quickly. The most important first step is to build a strong dialogue (including with the tenant) to ensure that the lines of responsibility are transparent, and that an effective timetable is established.
Once those aspects have been defined, stakeholders need to review their use of technology and how it helps – or hinders – the efficiency of their buildings. Total operational carbon emissions from all buildings make up around 17% of the UK’s overall emissions; and when you consider that lighting accounts for nearly 5% of global CO2 emissions, it goes to show that the measures being put into place by MEES legislation will make a big difference towards overall energy consumption. And without doubt, one of the most important factors is lighting.
“The imminent alterations to the MEES regulations have underlined how critical it is for building systems to be as efficient as possible,” says Tamlite’s Debbie-Sue Farrell. “Not only does lighting represent one of the greatest single ways in which the energy performance of a building can be improved, it is also a huge factor in improving the long-term wellbeing and productivity of tenants and employees.”