MEES regulations will come into effect on 1st April 2018. Here are my thoughts on what MEES means for businesses and how buildings can be optimised to reduce the impact. Our next training day includes 1 hour free CPD on MEES and Building Optimisation.

What’s the impact on the landlord?
From 1st April 2018 if you have a property with an EPC rating of F or G, the two worst performing, then you won’t be able to let it to a new tenant, it will also impact lease renewals and extensions.  The landlord is going to have to take steps to improve the EPC rating or suffer a potential loss of income. Improving the EPC rating can be done through upgrading the existing plant – air conditioning, for example – but the financial cost may not always be recoverable through the service charge.

It’s also worth noting that better rated buildings can actually offer a competitive advantage – more energy conscious tenants interested in sustainability may actively choose an EPC B rated office over an EPC E rated one and possibly pay more for the space too.

What steps can you take to improve your chance of compliance?
Before you embark on a strategy of upgrading your plant, make sure your EPC score is accurate. The EPC rating given is only as reliable as the assessor that did it in the first place. We often find that default values are allocated to pieces of equipment because of lack of information, which results in the lowest possible EPC scores.

The engineers who maintain the plant equipment day-to-day are often the best people to provide accurate information on the equipment so it’s a good idea to talk to your M&E company. At Hemlow, we’ve been able to take the energy ratings up one grade on non-complicated buildings just by getting rid of those default scores.

What are some MEES quick wins?
A building’s major energy consumer is often its chiller. A chiller upgrade can save about 30% on energy usage and, depending on how the building is operated, the cost can be recouped within 5 years through that energy saving alone. Additional gains can also be had by the savings made on repair and maintenance bills, which can amount to tens of thousands of pounds if the problem is major.

Another quick win would be to look at upgrading lighting to LED lighting. The failure rate of the lights are far lower than conventional lighting so your maintenance costs can drop dramatically. The tenant experience is improved too, making the space feel completely different with the right kind of lighting installed. This helps to retain the tenant and reduces their energy bills and maintenance service costs.

How can you make sure that a building is kept efficient over time?
Your energy service provider can show you there’s been an increase in energy consumption, but they won’t be able to show why. That’s where the quality of your M&E maintenance company comes in. Increased collaboration between the building’s facilities manager and the maintenance service provider means you can look strategically at the energy usage of the building. Not just the building’s overall energy usage, but the energy usage of the different plant areas i.e. are the chillers using more energy than they were this period last year? Is the ventilation system using more energy? Is the heating system using more energy? I think it’s really time that we use energy meter data as an additional tool for our engineers to enhance traditional maintenance and support the building.

How can I manage the financial impact of optimising my building through M&E maintenance?
Costs include installing meters and sub meters, setting up computer software for reporting, training engineers to understand energy usage and training facilities manager to understand the data. We’re helping our clients manage the cost by offering a monitoring platform that integrates with our eLogbook system to provide visibility. We also offer a training programme which we integrate into our internal and external training modules. The cost of this can be spread over the 3 or 5-year contract and often passed on through the service charge, so there’s actually no additional cost for the landlord.

What’s the key takeout?
It feels like as an industry we’re at a tipping point. More and more people are talking about energy and things are being done in isolation. It can be relatively easy to make a difference and to do that we need more collaboration and for people to think a little bit differently.

If you’d like a more accurate assessment of your building’s EPC score or advice on how to optimise your building, give us a call on 0208 293 6606 and ask for Natalie Turner.

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