Government at loggerheads over roll out of DECS

A major inter-departmental row has broken out concerning whether Display Energy certificates (DECs) should be displayed mandatorily in private sector buildings visited by the public. At present, these certificates are only found displayed prominently in public buildings.

The concept is heavily supported by both the communities (CLG) and the energy (DECC) departments. But the department of business is strongly resisting making such schemes anything other than voluntary- even though European Commission research reveals the very limited effectiveness of a purely voluntary private sector scheme.

DECs are based on an A to G rating system for energy efficiency. Occupants would be required to display “in a prominent place” certificates showing data detailing current energy performance. Certificates have an “at a glance” indicator, plus detailed technical information energy performance of the building.

The DECs can be used to produce a range of publicly accessible league tables based on occupiers, landlords, sectors, building types and uses.

Their introduction has long been championed by a whole variety of business organisation, from the CBI to the British Property Federation.

Conservative backbench MP Zac Goldsmith sought to make the scheme law, by tabling a new clause for inclusion in the Energy Bill, now being approved in parliament despite his department’s enthusiasm; energy minister Greg Barker did not endorse his initiative. This is believed to be because of opposition to the concept from the Department of business.

However, that department’s minister for Deregulation Mark Prisk told a construction industry conference that it was a case of “no longer if, but when” for DECs to become mandatory. So Barker responded that he hoped to have “good news” for supporters when the Energy Bill reaches its final legislative stage in September. Lawyers at DECC are known to be preparing text to enable him to legislate. But only if the civil servants at BIS listen to their own minister, and desist from blocking approval.