Legal & General Property (LGP) is piloting a voluntary operational rating scheme called VolDECs.
Based on Display Energy Certificates (DECs), it is a way for private sector ownership of commercial property and responds to the absence of a government rating scheme.
Funded and tested by LGP, the VolDEC scheme has been developed by the charity National Energy Foundation (NEF) and independent energy consultant Phil Jones of Building Energy Solutions.
The scheme responds directly to government’s U-turn on its commitment to extend DECs to commercial buildings by October 2012 as pledged in the Carbon Plan in March 2011 and expected through the 2011 Energy Bill.
Since April 2008 it has been mandatory to display DECs in buildings over 1,000 sq m that are occupied by public authorities or institutions providing a public service. VolDECs use the same methodology as statutory DECs and a similar certificate layout with an A-G scale.
VolDECs are based on relatively simple data, making them inexpensive and quick to produce. Separating out tenant energy outputs from those produced by the common parts of a building, the aim of the project is to provide property owners and operators with cost-effective, user-friendly energy ratings for only the areas of an asset which are within their control to improve.
The scale has been extended to include G1 to G4 ratings, providing low ranking buildings with a more defined rating in order to encourage improvement, as well as U (Unclassified) rating for buildings where performance or data is exceptionally poor. VolDECs also include a certificate quality rating, High, Medium and Low, to encourage improvements in data quality.
Debbie Hobbs, head of sustainability at Legal & General Property, says: “We believe that VolDECs are a great first step in engaging managing agents and tenants to improve energy performance. At a lower cost than a statutory DEC, we feel that it is truly cost effective to roll out across large fund portfolios and will allow us not only to determine the annual operational rating of our assets in order to ensure that our supply chain is managing them effectively but most importantly to act if any exceptions show up. In time we hope to extend the scheme to cover other environmental aspects.”
Phase one of the scheme is focused on the office sector and has already been successfully tested on 16 of LGP’s major multi-tenanted office properties. Phase two of the pilot project will include working with other partners to expand the sample of offices and to extend the scheme to other asset classes such as shopping centres and retail parks.