Just 18 months in, the Government are consulting on how to improve the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for commercial buildings as part of the on-going CO2 reduction commitments and net-zero by 2050 commitment, a legally binding policy set in legislation earlier this year. MEES currently requires a minimum EPC rating of E in order for the building to be rented (some exceptions apply) and came into force in April 2018.

The new consultation consists of two proposed options to upgrade the requirements:

  1. The preferred option – that all privately rented non-domestic buildings should achieve a minimum energy efficiency standard of an EPC B by 1st April 2030
  2. Alternative option – that all privately rented non-domestic buildings should achieve a minimum energy efficiency standard of an EPC C by 1st April 2030

As in the previous regulations, a caveat has been added to the above options stating that the improvement measures would have to prove to be cost-effective, meaning that the improvement measure would achieve a payback period of 7 years or less.

The consultation also delves into alternative solutions to the implementation of the 2030 B/C rating proposals, looking into suggestions as to whether the updated requirements should be carried out in one large or several smaller incremental steps (ie. D rating by 2024, C by 2027 and B by 2030)

In addition to the two key questions above, the consultation document raises some interesting issues about the current structure, including:

  • What can be improvements can be made to the current regulations?
  • Would the existing exemptions still be effective under a tightened trajectory?
  • How could the regulations be changed to overcome the current anomaly that a landlord is unable to grant a lease of a building where it has been agreed that the tenant will carry out its own fitting out works?
  • How can enforcement be improved to support a tightened trajectory?

A copy of the full consultation document can be found here.