The importance of energy certification in buildings

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are a potential policy tool for boosting real estate's energy efficiency

Building energy certification is a crucial policy tool for reducing energy consumption and enhancing energy efficiency of both new and existing structures. Policy makers believe that giving owners and occupants of buildings a certificate indicating the building's energy efficiency performance will transform the real estate market. Building owners would be more motivated to improve a building's energy efficiency if potential buyers and tenants start to value an energy certificate when taking a decision.

Energy performance certification offers a way to rate the effectiveness of structures vis-a-vis the amount of energy required to provide users with the desired levels of comfort and functionality in residential, commercial, and public buildings. The degree of energy efficiency depends on a number of factors including local climate, the design of the building, construction methods and materials, systems installed for cooling and heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and sanitary water, as well as the appliances and equipment needed to support the functions of the building and its tenants.

In Malta, EPCs became compulsory for all dwellings and non-dwellings being sold or rented as from 2009. Hence, if one buys or rents a property, he or she is entitled to receive an EPC by the seller/landlord or his/her agent for the respective building. An EPC must be carried out by an independent Energy Performance of Buildings (EPB) assessor who is registered with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).  A list of registered EPB Assessors is available on the Authority’s website 

The EPC for dwellings sets out the energy efficiency of a property on a traffic light system basis. It has two scale bars showing the rating of one’s dwelling and its carbon emissions, with zero being the most energy efficient and the other extreme being the least efficient. The EPC for non-dwellings has a vertical A to G scale bar, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least efficient. The assessment of the energy performance of a building by the competent assessor may include in some cases recommendations on possible improvements likely to bear energy savings.

Once an EPC is registered with the BCA, it is valid for 10 years, unless major renovations or alterations to the building take place. A registration fee of Eur75.00 applies for both dwelling and non-dwelling EPCs. This fee does not include assessors’ professional fees.

The value of these EPCs extends to all parties involved in the building industry. They offer a way for potential buyers and tenants to evaluate the energy ratings of several buildings that are similar to one another or the energy efficiency of various buildings.

When a consumer is deciding whether to buy or rent a new or existing building, EPCs are considered as an important source of information. Certifications are also beneficial for property sellers and owners. Certification reassures consumers that their property is cost-effective in terms of energy consumption when buying or renting. 

In Malta, the construction industry is gearing towards more energy efficient design, better construction practices, the integration of energy efficient components, and renewable technologies.