Posted by
Guy Watson

Dec 07

Energy Efficiency Case Study - Laboratory EPBD Compliance

Study to determine what the effect of changing the primary heating fuel from waste heat to natural gas would have on the Energy Performance Certificate rating, and letability of the property portfolio after 2018

About the project:


The facility in question is a site which rents out office, laboratory and pilot plant accommodation to a number of companies. In 2009 EECO2 was commissioned to provide Energy Performance Certificates across the site to comply with EPBD regulations. Understanding the EPC rating amd grid fuel supplied are key to the site’s energy future plans.

Client Requirements:

The site does not have an independent gas or electric supply. Electricity and waste-heat steam is supplied by the adjacent power station. The cost of procuring the steam from the power station has nearly doubled within 3 years. The client requested EECO2 to evaluate what the impact on the Energy Performance Certificate ratings would be by changing their primary heating fuel from waste heat to natural gas and by connecting directly to the grid for their electricity supply.

Project Challenges:

The original Energy Performance Certificates were issued using SBEM software 3.2b in 2009; the software has since undergone several amendments and upgrades as part of the on-going improvements. The first task was to convert the EPCs to the latest software 4.1d. This led to a fall in the ratings of all of the EPCs across the site due to the software being more accurate. What was unexpected was by how much they fell across some of the buildings.

It became evident that the blocks within the main building which contained laboratories that are heated by air ventilation systems were affected the most, with the worst case seeing a block being reduced from a C72 rating to G306 rating. The reason for this was the high specific fan powers entered into the software for these systems.

Download the case study here.

Project Scenarios:

Since 2009 there have been many energy efficient improvements delivered across the site, some of which EECO2 have assisted with. These improvements were updated in the software to show where the buildings currently stand. A number of different scenarios were run through the software to see what measures would affect the rating the most. Finally the waste heat fuel was changed to natural gas which resulted in a further drop in the ratings which was expected due to the higher Carbon factor.


In 2009 there were 16 EPCs issued for the main building and all received a B or C rating. There were 7 EPCs issued to other buildings around the site, some of which use electric only and are not affected by the waste heat to natural gas change over. There were 4 buildings rated B or C and 3 rated G. This would possibly mean that 3 buildings would be un-rentable in 2018 if they are not improved. Converting to the current software made 7 blocks in the main building un-rentable and an extra 2 of the other buildings un-rentable.

Adding the upgrades to the software improved the situation with only 3 buildings from the main building being rated below E although the other 5 buildings were still un-rentable. Finally changing the heating fuel from waste heat to gas reduced the ratings, but only the buildings with the high specific fan powers fell below an E rating.


Reducing the Specific fan powers of the air ventilation systems has by far the biggest effect on improving the ratings of the applicable buildings. Upgrading the fan motors to high efficiency motors is the easiest way to achieve this. Although changing the primary fuel from waste heat to natural gas would reduce the EPC ratings across the site, it would be a viable option as long as the specific fan powers were significantly reduced in the applicable areas.

Reducing the building rating to be ‘E’ or better will require investment. Buildings passing EPC ‘E’ in 2008 may fail through software upgrades alone in 2018. EECO2 can submit this EPC review and plan for improvements to mitigate the possible implications associated with the Energy Act 2011.

About EECO2 EECO2(Energy Efficiency Consultancy Ltd) offer global HVAC energy efficiency support, with expertise in pharmaceutical regulated environments. Services include: