Following the decision of the UK to leave the EU we are now in times of uncertainty. You, I guess like me, are wondering what happens next. I have stated before that there is always a good case for excellence in energy management – with or without legislative requirements – that said, you will want to know where you stand with legislation and regulation – as key aspect of any Energy Management System (EnMS) such as ISO 50001.

This is the first of a series of newsletters that I will be posting to help you understand the challenges and opportunities of Brexit as it relates to energy management. These will not be a comprehensive or academic look at EU directives – they will focus on what you need to know, understand and act on. As such there will not be a formal timetable for the newsletters – it will be event and knowledge driven.

For this posting, for simplicity I hope (!), I am going to look at the five main areas impacted by EU derived legislation.

National Targets

e.g a 20% reduction in energy use by 2020

Energy labelling of products

A to G labels on fridges, etc.

EcoDesign of products

Design of energy using products

Energy performance of buildings

EPCs, DECs, Inspections

ESOS & energy audits

National Targets

The EU has committed to three targets for 2020.

To reduce emissions by 20% on 1990 levels; To provide 20% of its total energy from renewables; To increase energy efficiency by 20% from 2007 levels.

Following Brexit, the UK will not be legally bound to meet these targets. We do however, have the carbon budgets that come from the Climate Change Act which has established a target for the UK to reduce its emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. Arguably, these targets are in excess of those dictated by EU policy.

The question here is will the UK’s targets be changed and what impact would this have on you as an energy user?

Opinion: Any change to UK targets will be driven by UK politics more than Brexit. In practice for your day to day energy management these targets are not directly relevant.

Prediction: In the short term there will be no significant change to long term targets.

Energy labelling of products

We are all familiar now with the energy labelling of products and I guess most of us do look at them when buying a fridge, washing machine, lamps or other similar products. Whilst there has been much said about the EU banning high power vacuum cleaners – much of this programme has been of benefit. Brexit is not going to mean that Energy Labelling of products will disappear. Any company making goods covered by the Directive that wants to export to the EU will have to label those products. Additionally, in many other non-EU jurisdictions (e.g. US) there are energy labelling programmes.

Opinion: We will need to keep energy labelling for trade with the EU, imports from the EU will be labelled by default. Additionally, we would most likely have a labelling scheme anyway.

Prediction: No change to energy labelling for products.

EcoDesign of products

The situation here is similar to that for labelling. The process will continue in the EU but we will not be legally bound to it. However, if we are going to export into the EU our products will need to meet EcoDesign requirements – and as before when we import from the EU they will meet the requirements anyway.

Opinion: UK manufacturers will need to meet the requirements if they want to export to the EU and as a result it will be simpler to have a product range that meets EcoDesign rather than have two product ranges one complying the other not. Given that, in the main, EcoDesign gives the customer a better product there is no real benefit in ignoring it.

Prediction: EcoDesign will continue to have an impact on the UK and UK manufacturers will continue to work to the requirements.

Energy performance of buildings

The key aspects of this are:

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs); Display Energy Certificates (DECs); Inspection of air conditioning and heating systems

The EPC has become a key part of property transactions in the UK. It is also a process being adopted by other no-EU jurisdictions. There are a number of problems with EPCs in particular the fact they have been so price driven means they can have questionable value.

The government has not been entirely happy with the implementation of DECs in the public sector – they have sought on a number of occasions to limit their scope.

Air conditioning and heating inspections. In the UK we opted for formal inspections for AC, but only the provision of advice for heating systems.

Another area of interest is the Minimum Energy Performance Standards for buildings – these are under the Energy Act 2011, (the same act as the Green Deal) but uses EPCs. Clearly without EPCs these standards cannot be applied in the current form.

Opinion: EPCs and DECs could be valuable tools for improving the energy performance of buildings, but currently they may not be as effective as they could be. They are seldom used as more than basic compliance tools.

Prediction: Given the questionable ‘value’ of EPCs and DECs I feel that these may be subject to an in-depth review following Brexit. I do not think we will lose the EPC, but it is possible that the future of the DEC could be in question. AC inspections may be quietly forgotten.

ESOS and Energy audits

The big one here is ESOS – requiring all large undertakings to undertake energy audits every four years or be certified to ISO 50001. For SMEs energy audits are to be ‘encouraged’.

There is no doubt that for Phase One compliance is still required. The view of the Environment Agency on 27 June was: “The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme Regulations 2014 are still in force and all qualifying organisations are required to fully comply with their obligations under the scheme.”

The question is will we need to comply with Phase Two?

Currently the ESOS Regulations are delivered through Statutory Instrument No 1643 and to quote this SI: “These Regulations are made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 and implement Article 8(4), (5) and (6) of Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency,….”

The Statutory Instrument could be removed by parliament in isolation, but if there is a repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, then the status of ALL the related Statutory Instruments must be in question. It is interesting to note that in 2013 there was a failed private members bill to repeal the 1972 act.

Opinion: Things get really complicated here and more legal/parliamentary expertise is needed to work out what could or needs to happen than I have. However, the principle of ESOS – a four yearly audit cycle or ISO 50001 – can still underpin a cost effective energy performance improvement programme regardless of legislation.

Prediction: Without the Brexit roadmap too complicated to call at this time! Best option? Assume ESOS will still be in place unless there is good reason not to.

Well, that’s it for now. The next newsletter in this series will be published when there is more to tell!