Saurabh Saxena, founder of Buy To Let and AI property evaluation platform houzen, explains how artificial intelligence is delivering better value from EPCs in the UK.
2022 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in the United Kingdom. Originally a requirement of European Union Directive 2002/91/EC and enshrined in UK law by the Housing Act 2004 and the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations of 2007, EPCs rate buildings on a scale from A to G based on their energy efficiency and carbon emissions.
Although the UK’s implementation of EU Directive 2002/91/EC introduced the certificates as a component of Home Information Packs in 2007, EPCs are now required for any building that is built, sold or rented. And, despite Home Information Packs having long fallen by the wayside , EPCs continue to be a core part of how we assess energy performance in properties.
At present, 19 million of the UK’s 29 million homes have an EPC rating lower than C. And even those with a rating of C or above can make changes to enhance their energy efficiency. Yet algorithms we have developed at houzen suggest a total of 21.3 million properties need some kind of sustainable retrofit in order to start making a positive impact on the planet.
EPCs have, at various times during their history, been viewed as something of an irritation by those looking to sell or rent out properties. Initially, they were associated with extra costs and hassle. More recently, landlords have been irritated by the introduction of a requirement for rental properties to have a rating of E or above. From 2023, the UK’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards mean that it will be illegal for privately rented property to be let with an F or G rating, even mid-way through a lease.
At houzen, we have been deploying AI alongside our human expertise to create action-focused reports that combine data from an internally generated Sustainability Index to assess property performance against 27 separate criteria that impact the environment.
Additionally, AI and machine learning are assisting in the creation of “Plan of Action” reports that detail specific recommendations for making properties more sustainable, match sustainable property projects with qualified service and product suppliers, and create initial costing projections for owners.
In addition to the environmental benefits when EPCs are put to better use, sustainable properties generate more interest from renters and command a higher sale price – which, alone, justifies an expansion of the use made of these certificates.
Clearly, the tech for doing so much more by transforming EPCs from static documents into dynamic tools for driving change is already available – with dong so much more creating a win-win situation for homeowners, landlords and the planet.
With the UK legally obliged to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, EPCs can play a key role by re-evaluating energy use in our buildings. And with the right approach to technology, they can help us progress more swiftly towards Net Zero.