New energy efficiency rules could make one-quarter of Aberdeen’s office space obsolete overnight, a study has found.
The analysis from Knight Frank also suggests a swathe of Granite City office stock may be unlettable by 2030 without improvements.
A consultation document recently released by the Scottish Government set out its intention to align with the EPC (energy performance certificate) system used elsewhere in the UK. The changes proposed would see the validity of Scottish EPCs reduced from 10 years to five.
28% of city’s office space at immediate risk from EPC changes
According to Knight Frank, more than one-quarter (28%) of Aberdeen’s office space has an EPC rating of E or below.
It could all become unusable if Holyrood follows the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) that apply in England and Wales. Under rules brought in on April 1 south of the border, business premises below the threshold cannot be let to an occupier.
The MEES rules will be tightened twice more in the coming years. From April 2027, commercial properties will need at least an EPC rating of C to be lettable. Three years later the bar will be raised again, to include only buildings with an A or a B EPC rating.
Nearly half Aberdeen’s office space needs upgrading to at least a C rating
Less than one-quarter (24%) of Aberdeen’s office space is currently rated B or above, with 10% achieving A. Knight Frank said. Nearly half (49%) of the total needs upgrading to meet or better the C rating that could make all the difference in 2027.
Matthew Park, office agency partner at Knight Frank in Aberdeen, said: “It seems inevitable there will be some form of legislation coming in Scotland that reflects what the UK Government has sought to do with MEES.
“Even in the absence of legislative pressure, many corporate occupiers in Aberdeen have their own net-zero targets and will not consider space with an EPC rating below B.
“Landlords in the city will need to think carefully about their plans if they want to continue to attract occupiers. We already have a number of offices going through major refurbishment projects to bring them up to higher sustainability criteria.”
Holyrood is aiming for the country to be net-zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK. Interim goals of reaching 75% and 90% of the overall target have been set for 2030 and 2040 respectively.
According to the World Green Building Council, the built environment is responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions.
Mr Park said: “With the Scottish Government setting an earlier net-zero target and the built environment known to account for a significant share of emissions, it is only a matter of time before building owners will have to take action.”
Gordon Hamilton, building consultancy partner, Knight Frank Scotland, added: “We’re working with a range of landlords who are keen to get the EPC ratings of their buildings to as high a level as possible, given the direction of legislation and demands from current and prospective occupiers. There are a range of steps you can take, whether it is improving the mechanical and electrical features of a building or, in more extreme cases, potentially recladding the exterior.”