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How to improve EPC rating: Commercial property

By: Kelly Bellerson

Commercial properties are on a tight deadline to improve their energy performance rating before Saturday the 1st of April.

Bringing a commercial property’s EPC rating up to an E might not be the biggest challenge for commercial property owners, but there are still many that aren’t even sure what their current rating is.

If a building’s energy performance is still below the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards after Saturday, landlords risk hefty fines. Luckily, there are a number of measures that can help reach the new requirements.

Simple solutions

Whilst a building survey is highly recommended to identify areas of the property that need upgrading, landlords on a tight deadline can look for quick fixes in the short term.

Even switching to LED lightbulbs can hugely benefit a building’s EPC rating, and regular monitoring helps keep track of where the property is using and losing the most energy.

Insulation: Heat loss contributes to a higher energy usage. Walls and roofs are two areas this is most prominent, at 38% and 28% respectively. Landlords must ensure every aspect of the property is appropriately insulated to better retain heat and improve energy efficiency. Buildings with cavity wall insulation, metal-clad, or solid brick external walls will want additional insulation for the best results.

Draught prevention: Draughts are one of the most common areas that impact EPC ratings and are often overlooked. With 20% of heat loss emitting from draughts, significant gains can come from properly addressing them and are quick to fix.

Windows and glazing: Upgrading a property’s glazing can significantly bring up your EPC rating, whether it’s double or triple glazed. There may be some guidelines for listed buildings though.

HVAC: Every property’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning hugely impacts energy performance ratings and the overall running costs of the building. Consider replacing boilers with a new commercial condensing boiler, as they reach 97% efficiency compared to older boilers with less than 50% efficiency. One of the best cost-effective ways of upgrading EPC ratings is by replacing the HVAC altogether.


Not all commercial buildings will be able to upgrade their energy performance. Here are the exemptions:

  • Listed commercial buildings
  • Buildings that cannot reach EPC E no matter what you have tried to do.
  • If there is no reasonable payback on upgrades.
  • Improvements that are not considered cost effective.
  • If additional materials would adversely affect the building, such as external insulation.
  • If consent cannot be obtained from the ultimate freeholder.
  • If works devalue the building by more than 5%

Despite these causes for exemptions, landlords must still prove that their building is exempt from MEES by showing that they have done all they can to meet the new requirements.

Exemptions last five years and any new owners who take on the property within this time must prove the building is still exempt, as this won’t automatically be assumed.


Commercial landlords face hefty fines if their property does not meet the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and continue to let, take on a new lease, or renew an existing one without an exemption.

  • £5,000 – £50,000 for a 3 month breach or less (10% of the rateable value)
  • £10,000 – £150,000 for a 3 month breach or more (20% of the rateable value)
  • £5,000 max for misleading or false information regarding exemptions
  • £5,000 max for non-compliance

Why are MEES changing?

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, known as the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England & Wales) regulations 2015, came into law in 2016 for residential properties only.

As part of the Government’s 2050 Net Zero target, MEES will now extend to commercial properties as of April 2023, with the hope of reducing carbon emissions further within the UK’s built environment.

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