What is a Section 63 Action Plan and Who is Affected

From 1 September 2016, new regulations will apply to qualifying, non-domestic buildings with a floor area over 1000m² in Scotland, in implementation of the Section 63 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009). These new Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016 require owners of qualifying buildings to produce an action plan prior to leasing their property.

Unlike similar regulations in England and Wales, the new regulations will not prevent owners from leasing properties with poor EPC ratings. Instead, owners will have to choose whether the energy efficiency of the building is to be monitored and reported annually, or whether works will be done to the building to improve its energy efficiency and reduce emissions, to be noted in Action Plan.

What is a Qualifying Building ?

Any non-domestic buildings with a floor area of over 1000m² which does meet the energy standards provided for in the 2002 Scottish Building Standards .will be a qualifying building, and will therefore require an Action Plan

Who decides on the Action to be Undertaken

If the Action Plan states that improvement measures are required to meet the required energy standards the owner of the building must decide whether to:

  1. Carry out the recommended improvement measures;

OR

  1. Defer the improvements by arranging to report the energy rating of the building to the Register, by way   of an annual Display Energy Certificate (DEC) prepared by a DEC assessor

The Section 63 Action Plan

A new assessor, known as a “Section 63 Advisor”, will produce an energy performance action plan –, a programme of improvement measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the building, which will set energy improvement targets for the building.

The 7 prescribed improvement measures the Section 63 Aadvisor can choose from are as follows:

  1. Adding central heating controls to the Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;
  2. Upgrading lighting controls to manual and photoelectric switching;
  3. Draft stripping windows and doors – read as reducing the air infiltration rate below 14m3/h/m2;
  4. Adding insulation to the hot water storage cylinder;
  5. Replacing tungsten/halogen lamps with compact fluorescent lamps ;
  6. Replacing the boiler, if it is older more than 15 years old; and
  7. .Insulating accessible roof space.

The  recommended improvement works must be completed within three and a half  years, and on completion, a document of confirmation of improvement must be registered and a new EPC obtained.

The section 63 advisor will discuss his findings with the owner of the building and confirm these in the action plan;

WITH A FURTHER OPTION TO:

Incorporate alternative improvement measures possibly including low and zero carbon technologies, which implemented together will at least meet the reduction targets

WITH A FURTHER OPTION OF:

The building owner can choose to implement operational rating measures, by way of a display energy certificate (DEC) and renew it every year.  In the first year, if utility bills are not available, the DEC will estimate the energy consumption and emissions from the building with subsequent years recording actual consumption and emissions.   If the DEC is not renewed annually, this will result in the owner losing the right to defer carrying out the improvement measures and may result in a financial fine or penalty.

The Action Plan, the DEC, and the document of confirmation of improvements must all be registered in a central register, accessible to those who have the details of the building as well as the reference numbers of the documentation they wish to see.


Time frame to implement measures

If the building owner elects to carry out the recommended improvement measures, the owner will be allowed 42 months (three and a half years) to complete the works.  The recommended improvements must be completed within this time frame to avoid penalty.  This period is based upon six months to obtain the necessary statutory permissions, and a further three years to complete works, (which ties in with the normal duration to carry out works under  a building warrant). Alternatively, the building owner can indefinitely defer carrying out the recommended improvement measures so long as the annual DEC is obtained.

Completion of Action Plan

The duty to improve a building’s energy performance is discharged once the recommended improvement measures (as set out in the Action Plan) are completed, and the new performance of the building recorded, by way of an updated EPC.  This is a two- step process whereby (1) a new EPC is produced and lodged with the Register to report the estimated improved performance, and (2) a new Action Plan is produced and then lodged with the Register.   This new Action Plan will show the date in which the improvement measures were completed, together with and the new EPC reference number, but will otherwise be identical to the original Action Plan.

Who Enforces the legislation

Local authorities have been charged with policing the regulations and have the power to impose a penalty charge of £1,000 if any owner of a qualifying building fails to produce an Action Plan or fails to carry out the recommended improvement measures within the three and a half year time frame.