GGP – energy-efficiency in the private rental sector

Featured Article
19 Nov 2018

As featured in GGP Magazine - 2016

Changes to energy-efficiency in the private rental sector – what do they mean for the glass and glazing industry?

This April, new energy-efficiency regulations for the private rental sector came into force, marking the introduction of a series of more stringent energy-efficiency requirements for leased properties. Phil Brown, European regulatory marketing manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, explains what the new regulations will mean for our industry and how the latest glass and glazing products can help meet the new guidelines. 

As of 1st April of this year, under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) Regulations, tenants in the private rental sector in England and Wales will be able to request consent from their landlord to make energy-efficiency improvements to their rented property. Landlords will not be able to refuse such requests, if paid for by the tenant or through Government or local authority funding.

Although these changes may, on the surface, appear to have little immediate financial implications for landlords, they in fact mark the first phase of a series of new energy-efficiency regulations aimed at improving the energy performance of buildings across the private rental sector. From 1st April 2018, the regulations will affect all new tenancies and it will become illegal to lease out a domestic or commercial property that has an Energy Performance Certificate rating lower than E.  

From 1st April 2020, all domestic property (including existing tenancies) must have the minimum E rating, while non-domestic properties will have until 1st April 2023 to ensure they meet the E rating. 

Those who do not comply with the new regulations are likely to face significant penalties. For example, in instances where a domestic property has been let that doesn’t meet the minimum standard, a fine of up to £5,000 could be imposed on the landlord. Fines could be much greater for commercial properties, depending on their size.

With the deadlines for these changes looming, large property agencies and commercial landlords will have to review the impact they will have on their investment portfolios, and it is expected that landlords will begin to upgrade their properties sooner rather than later to avoid damaging a property’s long term value.  

What do the changes mean for the glass and glazing sector?

These regulations not only offer huge potential for transforming the nation’s poorly-insulated building stock through energy-efficient upgrades, but tighter regulations are also likely to increase demand for glazing products that provide high levels of thermal insulation and can make homes more energy-efficient. 

However, in order for the industry to capitalise on these changes, it’s important that installers understand which products offer the greatest level of energy performance and which products are the most suitable for individual applications. 

What are the options? 

One of the best and most common ways of creating an energy-efficient property is through installing thermally efficient glazing. Double glazed units that incorporate a low-emissivity glass as the inner pane can help reduce the amount of heat lost through the window, while also allowing more heat from the sun in through the glass, especially when using a low-iron glass as the outer pane. This can be beneficial in maximising passive solar gains – free energy from the sun – during the colder, winter months. 

A more recent innovation in glass technology is combining two low-emissivity coatings in the same unit. This can give double glazing the thermal efficiency of triple glazing, achieving a U-Value as low as 0.9 W/m2K. Of course, if even lower U values are required, then triple glazing units can achieve U values as low as 0.5 W/m2K.  

Given that a large proportion of the UK’s housing stock is over a century old, it’s likely that a high number of older properties will be affected by the regulations. In these cases there are solutions that can improve the energy performance of a building, while also maintaining its original appearance. 

For example, Pilkington Spacia™ vacuum glazing technology provides unrivalled thermal performance in an ultra-thin product that fits seamlessly into traditional and conservation properties. It works by creating a vacuum between an outer pane of low-emissivity glass and an inner pane of clear float, resulting in high levels of thermal performance from a product only fractionally thicker than standard single glazing. 

Understanding and identifying the glazing solutions that will provide the highest levels of energy performance will not only help the glazing industry capitalise on these changes to regulations but will also help the private rental sector prepare for the future.