Where is your Recommendation Report?

“Since the conception of Display Energy Certificates in 2008, those who have a certificate have in most cases displayed them as A3 posters in a prominent place. However when asked about their Recommendation Report most shrug their shoulders.

When I inform them that failure to produce a copy of their Recommendation Report could result in a £1000 fine, I am immediately met with a look of shock/surprise on their faces.”

Where is your Recommendation Report?

I was once asked; ‘What is the Recommendation Report?’ Actually I’ve been asked that question more than once. When I’m presented with a copy of a site’s Recommendation Report I sometimes want to hug the site manager/caretaker to express my joy!

Why should I be so happy? In previous blogs I have mentioned how I see Display Energy Certificates (DECs) as powerful tools which are undervalued and underutilised. The Recommendation Report is the DEC’s clever cousin, this site specific document informs the building managers and occupants how the site can reduce its energy use, be more efficient and maybe even make a little bit of money.

So it’s time that all you Site Managers, Caretakers, Office Managers locate your buildings Recommendation Report and wipe the dust off, ignore the coffee cup mark and take full advantage of this ignored (tick box) legal compliance report full of recommendations specifically tailored to your building.

What can you do with an Recommendation Report?

Now before I continue I would like to point out that a lot of the recommendations within an Recommendation Report are generic, they were designed this way, so don’t misjudge them. Think outside the box and imagine where the recommendations can take you and your building, the decision on how you react to the suggestions and pursue a project rests in your hands.

The Recommendation Report is issued with the buildings first DEC and (before 09/01/2014) is valid for 7 years for buildings over 1000m2 and 10 years for all buildings below 1000m2. All Recommendation Reports after 09/01/2014 are valid for 10 years regardless of size.

The Recommendation Report contains details of the Assessor and building at the time of its production. Very importantly, it provides the site with a list of recommendations. These are; short payback, medium payback, long payback or other recommendations made by the assessor.

The number of recommendations within your report will depend on what the assessor observes during their site visit. The assessor needs to answer a number of generic question within the DEC software.  These questions cover; building fabric, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Condition) controls, boilers, building ventilation, air-conditioning system, lighting, DHWS (Domestic Hot Water System), occupier energy use, lift, commercial catering, steam and swimming pools.

Depending if the answer to one of the questions is yes, no, or don’t know will depend on whether a recommendation is added to the report.

For example, if the Assessor answers No to the question; ‘Is the building adequately cooled?’; a Long term measure recommendation ‘Engage experts to review overall ventilation strategy and propose an investment programme for upgrading and/or switching to alternative solutions to improve effectiveness and energy efficiency’ will be added to the recommendations by the DEC software used by the Assessor.

Once the assessor has visited your site and produced the DEC and Recommendation Report they should provide you with a copy of each, at the very least they should provide you with a link to the ndepc register and both Report Reference Number.

What should you do with your Recommendation Report?

Once you have put the DEC up in a prominent place, it’s very likely that your Recommendation Report was filled away somewhere (log book maybe), and forgotten.

Well, it’s time we look at this document and maybe take advantage of the advice within. So how should we do this?

First step; read the report and take in the recommendations, are they valid? Do you understand them? If the answer to both is no, then contact your Assessor and seek additional information, they should provide this freely.

So you’ve been provided with a list of recommendations, what action should you take and how can you make the report work for you?

It is important to point out the following:

  • Short Payback are recommendations with a payback of less than 3 years.
  • Medium Payback are recommendations with a payback between 3 and 7 years.
  • Long Payback are recommendation with a payback more than 7 years.
  • Other recommendations are recommendations made by the assessor, payback not specified.

Understanding the recommendations

  •  Sit down with your energy champions (if you have some, if not get some) and go through each of your recommendations, do you understand them? What are they asking you to do? How would you go about implementing them? What will the end result be?
  • Carry out the recommendations which will take the shortest time/least cost to install. It will surprise you how much these can save, for example the recommendation: ‘It is recommended that energy management techniques are introduced’. These could include efforts to gain building users commitment to save energy, allocating responsibility for energy to a specific person (champion), setting targets and monitoring.
  • It is believed that a site can save up to 5% by implementing No Cost measures such as monitoring and targeting, installing an energy champion.
  • Look at improving your buildings installation if required. For example, double glazing can cost a lot of money, but if you have single glazing the question is how much heat are you losing? uSwitch state on their website that you could be losing up to 20% of your heating though your windows. How much would you save if this was true? How long would it take to pay for your new glazing? Consider all your building installation, loft, walls and floor, does the saving made justify the cost?
  • Lighting and controls (especially schools), the number of schools I have walked around where all the classroom lights are on after 3pm and no one is in the room could provide my home for years. Either initiate a switch off light policy (last one out switches the lights off) or update the controls from manual switches to PiR (or similar).
  • In addition to the payback the potential impact is also identified; low, medium and high. This is set by the assessor based on their knowledge and what they observed.

And finally

Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to tell you in this blog how you should prioritise the recommendations specific to your building, that is between you, your Assessor and your Site Manager (if you have one).

I would however recommend that you rekindle your friendship with the Recommendation Report and look how you can take advantage and benefit from it.

I am aware that a number of schools have, in the past, used the Recommendation Report as evidence when applying for grants and loans. You pay for the production of the Advisory Report, please make sure you get the best use out of it.

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