Can I ask you a question?
Do you know what the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is all about?
Most people I ask that question to give me a blank stare. Yet, the EPC – or more technically, the Energy Performance Building Directive, has been part of Maltese law since 2008 (L.N. 261), and enforced from 2010.
This piece of legislation is aimed at regulating the minimum energy performance requirements in buildings. It gives owners, prospective buyers, or tenants the ability to find out how energy-efficient their home is, what they can do to make it perform better and save money, as well as compare a property’s energy performance with other properties they are considering to build, buy or rent.
Unfortunately, as it so often happens over here, there was little follow-up to ensure that this law is implemented well and that all dwellings in Malta get certified. Sooner or later, the EU will come down hard on the authorities and demand that they pull up their socks and start doing something about.
Before that happens, make sure you know all about the Energy Performance Certificate, how to get your building certified and avoid the hefty fines for non-compliant property owners.
What the EPC is
Starting from the 2nd of January 2009, an Energy Performance Certificate had to be issued for all residential buildings which had to be newly designed, sold or rented out.
An EPC is similar to the energy labels you find on household electrical appliances except that it rates the efficiency of buildings instead, using a scale where zero is the most energy efficient and the other extreme being the least efficient.
In essence, the EPC is a three-page report which describes the energy performance of a specific dwelling and gives it a score in terms of energy performance and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.
The certificate also provides a number of recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of the property, as well as pinpoints all the causes of energy wastage and expensive bills.
An EPC can only be issued by qualified Energy Performance Assessors for Buildings (EPB Assessors), who are either architects or engineers.
Let’s take a closer look at the actual certificate, page by page.
On the front page of the EPC, you’ll find the dwelling details as well as the name of the Assessor and the energy use and CO2 emissions scores for that building.
- Energy Use – measured in kilowatt-hours per square metre per year – indicates the typical amount of energy needed to live comfortably in that building. The lower the value, the more efficient the dwelling and the cheaper your energy bills will be.
- CO2 emissions – measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide per square metre per year – is an indication of how much carbon dioxide emissions are produced each year to generate the amount of energy consume by that household. The lower the score, the more environmentally-friendly your home is.
The real benefit of the EPC, in my opinion, are the recommendations given on the second page of the document. These include suggested improvements to reduce energy use, things like installing better insulation, low flush toilets, low energy lighting and so on.
An assessor will also include a cost estimate for implementing these recommendations, as well as the calculated energy savings if all the measures were implemented.
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These recommendations are all drawn up specifically for the building that has been certified, however, the owner is not obliged by law to implement any of the recommended improvements.
The third and final page is the most technical part and includes a detailed description of all the materials, building fabric components, services installations and renewable energy sources that affect the rating of the building.
The owner of a house or his/her agent should have the Certificate drawn up by a registered EPC Assessor when a building is constructed, sold, rented out or when a major renovation/alteration is being carried out.
How to get your residence certified
The owner of a building has the responsibility of engaging a registered assessor to carry out an inspection on the energy rating of a dwelling and obtain an EPC.
The assessor will inspect the property and assess the building taking note of its volume, surface areas, and party wall perimeters, the type of construction material used, air conditioning or boiler installations, the lighting installation, the hot water system and any systems using renewable sources of energy including rainwater reuse.
Note that the EPC must be registered with the Building Regulation Office by the assessor before being given to the person who commissioned it.
A list of registered of Energy Performance Assessors for Buildings is available here.
Once an EPC for a dwelling place is registered it shall remain valid for 10 years, unless major renovations or alterations to the building take place.
Important legal obligations
The owner is required by law to provide an EPC to the prospective buyer or tenant within the period of the promise of sale or at the time of signing of the sale agreement, or rent agreement.
The EPC should be provided to potential buyers or tenants so that they may be informed on how much energy is required to live comfortably in that particular building and be able to compare with other properties they are considering.
Under Maltese legislation, the building owner is responsible for commissioning an EPC and if he or she fails to produce the certificate to the authorities, when requested to do so, they can incur a fine between €500 and €5,000
You can find more information on Energy Performance Certification in Malta and learn about the different types of assessors and inspectors, as well as the types of certification by clicking on the link below. A directory of registered assessors is also available.
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