New report suggests the public sector may miss carbon targets

An analysis of the energy efficiency of public buildings has revealed that at the current pace of decarbonisation, the UK will miss its 2037 target by more than a century.

Pete Stemp - Senior Copywriter

Peter Stemp13.03.2023

The Public Building Energy Efficiency report, published by Neos Networks, analysed the Display Energy Certificates (DEC) of more than 450,000 public buildings in England and Wales. It highlights that much more still needs to be done if the UK is to meet the target of a 75% reduction in emissions from public buildings by 2037 compared with the 2017 baseline.

A Display Energy Certificate, which shows actual energy performance over the last 12 months, is required for any building in England and Wales over 250 square metres that is occupied by a public authority and is frequently visited by the public. Most public buildings will have both a DEC and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which shows the theoretical performance based the building’s construction.

From 2030, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) will require that non-domestic buildings achieve an EPC rating of at least B. Currently the minimum is an E on the A+ to G scale. Using the current ratings, the report finds that 91% of public buildings will need upgrading in the next seven years to meet the increased MEES level. In fact, the analysis showed that 12.95% of public buildings fall below the current EPC E minimum.

A concerning finding of the report is that if the current pace is maintained, the 75% reduction in emissions will not be achieved for another 121 years – more than 90 years past the 2050 deadline by which we should have achieved net zero.

The report also analysed the average DEC rating across different local authorities. It found that only 2% of the 339 local authorities have public buildings with an average DEC rating of C or above.

Among the reports other key findings are:

  • Almost three-quarters of NHS buildings meet the current minimum energy efficiency requirements of an E rating
  • However, 14% of NHS buildings are operating at G, the lowest DEC rating – more than in any other public sector category
  • Just 0.01% public buildings scored the highest DEC rating of A+
  • 90% schools in England and Wales meet the current minimum energy efficiency requirements. However, just 4% have already achieved the B rating, required from 2030
  • The public sector office category has the highest proportion rated B or above
  • Public leisure and entertainment facilities are on average the highest CO2 emitters per unit per year
  • Sefton, a borough of Merseyside, is the local authority that is leading the way on renewable energy usage in public buildings. Through renewable energy, Sefton has reduced CO2 output per square metre by almost a quarter (23%)

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