With the looming ‘green deal’ consultation and the current proposal to link the post April Feed In Tariff PV payments to certain EPC levels these developments pose a potential problem to historic and heritage buildings . The draft proposal is that you will only be able to claim FIT for PV systems if your property has an EPC rating of ‘C’ or better or linking to green deal and so on. Although it seems initially to refer to domestic dwellings it does open the door. It does make sense lowering the energy use first as this is cheaper but use of the EPC system to prove this is problematic as a lot of the base data is not very good when it comes to older buildings. We could be left with many sites not meeting EPC levels because of the way it is measured and then losing out on funding which would make renewables viable for these sites
My concern is the EPC system is a simplistic tool and uses SAP type approaches to energy and that we (historic and older buildings) are in danger of falling between the cracks with a one size fits all instead of understanding how older buildings work. We undertook energy model assessment of one of our mansions with Arup who dynamically modelled the building and then set certain energy-saving interventions for an EPC rating to see what is needed to get us up to a very credible ‘B’. This was okay but meant a huge investment and radical change to the fabric where actually if we used the SPAB data and Historic Scotland the building was fine save for some secondary glazing and roof insulation. Furthermore, these improvements can be bypassed completely by simply installing a biomass. Yes the carbon saving would be better but the ‘energy’ performance would be the same. A wasted Kw is a wasted kw no matter how you generate it. We are in danger of disappearing down the ‘green bling’ route and not tackling the basic problem of using too much energy and understanding what our buildings are doing. Lets see where this goes?