In a damning 2016 report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, over a third of non-domestic buildings in London were rated E or lower on the Energy Performance Certificate scale.
37% of buildings in London were given this grade, in comparison to just 34% that achieved a rating of C or higher. Perhaps most worryingly for England’s capital is the 18,000 non-domestic buildings that rated F or G, meaning they will fall victim to new legislation that will forbid the rental of property in the private sector if the EPC rating is lower than an E.
The new legislation, which is set to debut in April 2018, will require any buildings currently rated lower than an E, to significantly improve their energy efficiency before any leasing agreement can be reached.
Commercial and industrial buildings combine to take up around 25% of London’s building space but consume almost half of the city energy. This results in 42% of the carbon emissions in London emanating from workplaces and combined annual energy bills of around £4 billion for the city’s industry and commerce.
The worrying report also revealed that a quarter of domestic houses in London (around 830,000) have an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G.
These statistics represent some of the poorest readings in Western Europe and have ignited warnings from energy efficiency professionals about the current state of the city.
Pedro Guertler, research director at the Association for the Conservation of Energy admits he was “shocked” at the findings;
“…a quarter of London’s homes and 37% of its workplaces have the very worst energy ratings and therefore waste a large proportion of their energy. Millions of the capital’s homes and businesses still stand to gain from energy efficiency upgrades. If our shops cut energy costs by 20%, it would be the equivalent of a 5% increase in sales.”
The report heaps further pressure on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who not only has to ensure retrofits are carried out on nearly 70% of London’s non-domestic building by 2025 but has also promised to help make the capital zero carbon by the year 2050.
Experts have warned that the former of these tasks is well behind schedule and will not be completed by the year 2025.
Apart from the RE:FIT and RE:NEW programs, which are behind scheduled completion, there is very little in place to ensure that the devastating energy efficiency report will be acted upon. In fact, a glimpse at the Mayor of London website reveals plenty of “interest, discussions and plans” but very little action set to take place.
Developers of new buildings are told to follow the “energy hierarchy” of being lean, being clean and being green. However, the report is clear in its results, which suggest that it is current buildings and not new buildings that are falling behind in their energy efficiency.
Pedro Guertler echoed concerns from many experts regarding reaching future energy goals for the capital;
“The Mayor has set ambitious climate change and energy targets. But we are falling well behind on our milestones to reach them. We are improving homes at half the speed we need to – and public sector buildings aside, nobody at City Hall knows what progress is being made to improve our workplaces. Investing more in the energy performance of our substandard buildings will help London meet its targets, enhance its economic competitiveness and be a place that people want – and can afford – to live and work.”
With a large number of domestic properties in London also revealed to have very poor energy efficiency ratings, Sadiq Khan has again stated that domestic retrofitting will cut energy bills for homeowners. Once again, this program looks to be behind schedule and will unlikely be completed by 2025.
There have been a number of prior warnings before the ACE report that London’s homes are an energy efficiency nightmare. Analysis of EU data in 2013 revealed that homes in London are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe because of poor insulation and general maintenance.
Despite this damning data, the Government actually scrapped plans to improve insulation of a number of properties, which would have cut energy bills significantly.
With manoeuvres such as these slipping through public lexicon with little reaction for a number of years, it is simply no surprise to see the Association for the Conservation of Energy report as devastating as it turned out.
While there are a handful of new programs implemented by the Mayor that are set to improve energy efficiency, it is simply not enough to ensure that the future of London is set to become a greener, cheaper, environmentally friendly place.
Rather than constantly looking to build vast, new, green megastructures, London’s age-old buildings need a serious facelift in order to improve the overall situation.