Are green jobs at risk from new standards?

An official consultation on proposed new technical standards for retrofitting the UK’s offices, factories, hotels and other commercial buildings for improved energy efficiency is experiencing push-back from professional energy assessors.
A publicly available specification (PAS) is a sponsored, fast-track, consensus-building informal standard that is produced by the UK national standards body, BSI Standards Ltd. PAS 2038 has been sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to establish the standards for ‘Retrofitting non-domestic buildings for improved energy efficiency’.
The specification covers all buildings except those used as private dwellings (houses, bungalows, flats or apartments). However, non-domestic buildings do include multi-residential buildings in which occupants share some communal facilities, such as hotels, guest houses, hostels, and students’ and nurses’ accommodation.
The draft PAS 2038 sets out the requirements for the assessment of commercial buildings for retrofit, as well as the identification, design, installation and evaluation of measures that improve the buildings’ energy performance, including insulation, air-tightness and ventilation, heating, lighting and other essential areas that impact on energy efficiency.
Controversially, the current draft PAS excludes Non-Domestic Energy Assessors (NDEAs) and other qualified professionals from its list of competent people who could implement the specification.
Elmhurst Energy (which runs an accreditation scheme for energy assessors), has put forward that NDEAs should have the opportunity to be part of the retrofit project team, using their well-established accreditation, quality assurance, insurance, knowledge, expertise and competency in the energy assessment industry.
Stuart Fairlie, technical and operations director at Elmhurst Energy, says: “These proposals could be an own goal for BEIS when it is trying so hard to build up a stronger market for low energy retrofits. There are more than 1,000 qualified and accredited assessors in our membership who are specialists in the commercial sector, and they should be the first port of call for designing, promoting and delivering the energy efficiency scheme. If excluded from this market, many opportunities will be missed and these vital ‘green jobs’ could be lost.”

Elmhurst’s consultation response sets out the need for the proposed PAS 2038 to make use of the regulated, Government-approved national calculation method that is already used to underpin other energy efficiency regulations and legislation. “It seems arbitrary not to follow the same consistent method for assessing the energy performance of non-domestic buildings. If adopted, the current SBEM calculation that is already well known and well established in the commercial property sector will ensure a smooth and seamless transition into the retrofitting process for building owners

“The same applies for Domestic Energy Certificates (DECs). A DEC assessment should be listed as an equally appropriate method to calculate the energy usage of a building. We do not understand why a tested and proven method of calculating energy usage has not been employed as a crucial step within the retrofit assessment process” he said.
 Read Elmhurst’s consultation response

Image credit | Shutterstock



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