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Article Date: 16th March 2018

LG Electronics - MEES – Why Achieve an E?

MEES - Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards - Energy Performance Certificate

LG Andy Slater

From recent round table discussions through MBS Magazine and conversations that have taken place throughout the industry, it doesn’t seem that the regulations for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have been put forward with the force to ensure that there is wide spread awareness or sufficient information throughout the non-domestic sector. Asset management teams and organisations with a solid industry presence have the knowledge and expertise to manage such changes in regulations, but what about the landlords owning or managing buildings, with a smaller portfolio or a single building?

With the forthcoming implementation of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for non-domestic private rented properties on 1st April 2018, a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of E is required. Certain upgrade criteria have been put in place to prevent the people responsible for upholding the buildings rating falling into traps of excessively long term payback periods or having to provide payment up front for works, but where is the advice for future plans? Surely regulations for a minimum E rating is just the start, given that as 60% of the current non-domestic buildings will still exist in 2050, representing 40-45% of total available floor space, according to the National Energy Efficiency data framework (2006-12 report), with calculations showing an approximate 47% gap in meeting the 5th carbon budget in 2050.

It has been mentioned that Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards could rise to D or even C as time progresses toward the next carbon budget, but surely this should be a pre-planned, pre-informed, staged progression? Whilst progressively raising the minimum EPC grading would secure further economic benefits through the ‘green’ industry, it shouldn’t come with repetitive costs for landlords, seeing them having to improve their building portfolio for compliance at each stage, planning for achieving the minimum regulatory grades time and again. With improved long-term planning, landlords can better judge the path for long term improvement and in a manageable, more economical way.

With the majority of government focus based around meeting carbon deficits, the base line reason for MEES is apparent. The built environment contributes 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. 12% of UK emissions is from non domestic energy use, according to the Non-domestic National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework: energy statistics (2006-12), so a target on the non-domestic sector will assist in moving towards the 4th or even the 5th Carbon Budgets. Whilst it was a long time in planning, the impacts in the domestic sector were being monitored from 2008 when EPC’s were introduced. Has the introduction into the non-domestic sector been carried out in the most appropriate way?

An EPC is designed as a window reference into how efficient a building is when it is stood still. It’s intended as an insight into the building and a basic reflection to the tenant or potential buyer, of how much that building will cost to operate. However, the relation to the certificate stops there. What about building usage patterns when all windows can be left open whilst the cooling or heating systems are operational? With office refits, constructing walls and disrupting flow patterns? What about system usage? As simple as timed operation compared to 24hour operation and what about identifying and linking to the rapidly growing diverse industry of ‘Wellbeing’?

With reference to system usage, an EPC assessment will reference published data of any installed equipment, but it is quite clear that whilst new regulations are being implemented, they are assessing some buildings and the equipment in them, that do not have clear reference to up to date efficiency values, such as seasonal variations, so nominal figures are applied inevitably lowering the potential of that building.

Taking a closer look at seasonal efficiency values, the old phrase of comparing apples with apples' is something I hear quite frequently when working on project specifications. Especially when comparing competitive proposals or products. Generally, if the principle of design or the method of delivery is the same, it is accepted that we are comparing 'apples with apples'. What has become apparent and quite concerning, is the direct comparison when it comes to efficiencies, especially those that are not currently regulated by independent testing or methodologies. The importance of seasonal efficiency values during not only competitive comparisons, but also in the use of life cycle costing and building assessments, is one of the deciding factors of whether a particular product is the most suitable for the customers’ demands. However, it is quite apparent that when these published values are referred to, there are some misconceptions about how they are achieved for certain applications.

If we take examples of Air conditioning systems below 12kW, there is a set standard enforced methodology as given in EN14825 for seasonal efficiency value. But misconception and lack of awareness of the extensiveness of EN14825 creates a misunderstanding for the analysis and representation of data on systems above 12kW. The misconception is not helped by manufacturers demonstrating representative values of seasonal efficiencies that clearly show a base of EN14825 for reference of partial load data points through ambient temperatures and weighting factors, but not being clear on the exact methodology of simulating partial load conditions. Through testing of our own products, it has been conclusive that by adopting a variation of methodology in the system simulation of partial load conditions away from those used in BSEN14852 and a variation of indoor reference points, as much as a 20% increase in' SEER' figures, on those that were carried out with exact methodology of EN14825 would be possible and therefore distinct variations in the results of any building assessments or building operating proposals. The labelling of ' the most efficient product' should always be questioned when exact calculation methods or references are not regulated, as we have seen for seasonal values on air conditioning systems over 12kW for some time.

From the 1st Jan 2018 and the implementation of Eco Directive Lot 21 Tier one, a regulated methodology of testing seasonal efficiencies of 'air heating products' - effectively those above 12kW capacity - will bring with it a comparative market again, allowing a return to comparing 'apples with apples'!

With further plans from Government towards reaching environmental targets, consultancy practises relating to working and planning in the ‘built environment’ are focusing on other areas, related to building guidance from sources and accreditations such as BREEAM and the Well standard, focusing on Environmental, Operating and occupant wellbeing factors. A periodic certified assessment of building operation efficiencies for both tenants and landlords, would give the opportunity not only to equip a building with highly energy efficient technologies, but also give structured direction in its use. Enforced not only by the fact that the tenant has higher operating costs, but finally putting right areas that have lacked enforcement of such recommendations that we have seen before with the failure of such assessments as TM44 Air Conditioning inspections.

It is common knowledge that along with the improvement in the technologies that are placed into buildings we see an improvement in energy efficiency, but how much of it do we exploit? With Dual sensing control, which includes monitoring and reacting to both temperature and humidity conditions, coupled with Smart Load control, automated regulation to load can result in an energy efficiency increase of 33% in LG’s Multi V systems over a year. Operating in tandem with the Comfort Cooling option available in all fan coils, a more suitable ‘thermal experience’ is endured by the customer, of which thermal discomfort has been shown to lead to a 3% loss in employee productivity (REHVA 2006). By combining strategies via both landlord and tenant, this can lead to a much more productive method of creating a more efficient building sector through closer monitoring and education, whilst maintaining economic productivity through paying attention to the wellbeing of the people occupying our built environment.

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