Is your EPC carried out by a data collector?

Energy Performance Certificates are mainly undertaken by fully licensed, accredited and insured energy assessors. However, the concerning rise of data collectors within the industry is becoming more aparent and could potentially threaten the quality and reliability of the issued Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the livelihood of those who are actually ‘qualified’ to issue the certification.

The current system and legislation allows for the use of data collectors within both the domestic and non-domestic fields under certain circumstances. Data collection in essence involves a non-qualified individual visiting the property requiring the Energy Performance Certificate and the ‘office based’ qualified individual entering the information gathered by the data collector.

Whilst this practice was being employed quite infrequently and mainly in the social housing sector where many properties are very similar to each other, the expansion of this practice of collecting and utilising the data has been rising by some businesses attempting to lower fees, expand profit margins and gain market share.

A recent online petition against the practice of using data collectors has recently been responded to by the Government.

“It is generally expected that Energy Assessors carry out all aspects of an EPC assessment, including data collection. However, data collectors can be used for domestic and non-domestic buildings in the circumstances set out below.

A Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) should visit a dwelling before issuing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). However where relevant data exists it can be used to create EPCs provided that the DEA is satisfied it is accurate and up to date. There are three main scenarios in which it might not be necessary to visit an individual dwelling:

i) where there are large amounts of identical or very similar stock. Here the DEA would be expected to visit a sample of dwellings;

ii) where a landlord already holds extensive and recent data about the energy efficiency performance of the stock; and

iii) where the DEA has already issued an EPC for the dwelling and is now issuing an updated version to take account of evidence of improvement works.

For non-domestic buildings, energy assessors are expected to visit the building in person to ensure that the data is accurate, although it is acceptable for energy assessors to use data gathered by others provided the conditions set out below on data gathering are met:

  • the EA is responsible for ensuring that such assistants are ‘fit and proper’, have the correct insurances, and the technical ability to undertake those duties;
  • the EA is responsible for all the actions, data and output as though he had undertaken the data gathering himself;
  • the EA’s responsibility for the final product is the same as though he had undertaken all the duties himself.”

Read the full response here.

The response from the Government appears far from definitive and does not seem to have closed the door to this concerning practice continuing and increasing.

Whilst some data collectors have probably the ‘right’ background to carry out ‘site’ visits and record the correct information some undoubtably have not. Unfortunately, how can each data collectors’ suitability be determined?

Within the Commercial Energy Performance Certificate industry the detailed information and level to which it is required is both time consuming and complex.

Is the correct and obvious answer; by qualifying as a qualified Non-Domestic Energy Assessor, was this not the original intention?

So why are we seeing the rise of data collectors?

  • Is it due to the urge to reduce costs to the client
  • As there are a large number of domestic energy assessors (DEA) who can be employed at small fees, therefore the company employing data collectors make large margins which would be hard to realise employing a qualified commercial energy assessor?
  • The training companies have found another course to roll out and promote?

Initial fees for commercial EPCs have substantially reduced to a realistic, sensible level and the market seems to have found a general price range. However, those involved in data collection have smaller costs and larger margins. Inevitably as we have seen in the domestic market some EPC providers aim to compete solely on price; with quality and service being disregarded to an extent. Unfortunately for those qualified individuals, this will drive the price per commercial EPC down over time.

The impact of this practice is yet to be seen, but some within the industry are forecasting a legal claim in the near future due to an error in the commercial EPC produced. The increased technical knowledged required and the possible financial and legal ramifications to the commercial EPC initiator (i.e. the person who commissioned the EPC) could quickly stop the data collection practice. Time will tell.

N.B. never use data collectors for the production of commercial EPCs.

7 Responses to “Is your EPC carried out by a data collector?”

  1. John Walton Says:

    I would never use a data collector unless I had known them for years and was convinced as to their suitability as the risk of them missing something or becoming slap-dash if silly fees are used is too high and will not serve the client’s best interests.

    It is about time Government and landlords realised that there is a vast difference between domestic assessments and commercial.

  2. epc assessor Says:

    I would trust collegues of mine who have worked in the construction industry for years to collect the data rather than those who have carried out a one week course.
    I’m sorry but the standard of some so called qualified assessors is pathetic

  3. The end of data collection for Energy Performance Certificates? Says:

    […] The CLG (Communities and Local Governments) has produced some guidance and proposed changes on the use of data collectors for issuing Energy Performance Certificates. The changes are very much inline with the concerns we hold and detailed in ‘Is your EPC carried out by a data collector?‘ […]

  4. Mike Arnott Says:

    I have been a M&E design consultant working closely with Architects structural engineers etc. for 30 years and have spent the last year collecting data for the preparation of EPCs, It appears that I may well be deemed unsuitable unless I spend a considerable sum of money to become accredited. I feel that my past experience should be accepted as being suitably qualified. I feel my experience should count for more than having been on a short course to qualify

  5. Stuart White Says:

    I’m a domestic energy assessor and I’ve been approached to gather commerical data. I took a look at what was required and decided that it didn’t sit well with me. A former collegue is doing the commercial course and I know how much more involved commerical buildings are. As for price – the reason behind the apporach to be a data gather was a company offering their services at prices they couldn’t maintain out of their area.

    We all need to get real and realise the reach of the Internet and understand that travelling time and mileage has to be accounted for. To offer a service at a price and then fit the service around the price is madness at best.

    The whole industry will suffer. I didn’t want to be part of an industry where the quality of the product was secondary to the price.

  6. EPC London Landlord Says:

    i’d totally trust my collegues in the industry to collect the data!

  7. hull surveyor Says:

    I can’t say i’d really like to let a “trained” data collector do it. Sure, people who you know and trust would be a far better choice.

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