Energy is fundamental to almost everything we do. The availability of an adequate and reliable supply of energy is critical for economic development and improving the standard of living. The modernisation of today's society was made possible though the employment of technology which was and still is energised by fossil fuels. But we expect energy it to be available whenever we want, affordable and safe. Only when something goes wrong do we realise how much we depend upon extremely complicated energy systems. (Hinrichs and Kleinbach 2002).

Throughout the world the real estate sector is accountable for around 30% of global carbon emissions and 40% of global energy consumption (RICS 2005). Being one of the largest sectors in both carbon emissions and energy consumption it was obvious that it should be targeted.

In the United Kingdom 28% of all CO2 emissions come from our homes and According to Gavin Killip (researcher in the Lower Carbon Group, Oxford University) the UK has one of the oldest, most inefficient stocks of housing in Europe, with two million homes that are officially unhealthy. It is well documented that dealing with energy inefficiency in the domestic residential sector helps reduce social illness from fuel poverty and poor housing, as well as the environmental issues of climate change and the reduction of green house gases.

The world and UK government have realised that we need to change the way we live to help reduce our carbon emissions, to date there have been many changes made and reports conducted, some of which include, Low carbon buildings program, Energy performance certificates, climate change levy, carbon emission reduction target, climate change bill and the energy efficient target. There have been numerous organisations established to help make the general public more aware of the situation; these include the Energy Savings Trust NEED MORE NAMES.

The 'Energy Performance of Buildings Directive' (EPBD) was introduced through the Kyoto protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Kyoto Protocol has outlined targets to which thirty seven major countries must meet. They must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Britain and Northern Ireland are to cut its greenhouse emissions by 12.5% of its 1990 level by 2012 according to the Kyoto project. According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change the UK is on track to almost double the reduction to 23% by 2012.

In 2003 the European Union implemented the Energy Performance of Building Directive (2002/91/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings). Its purpose is to "promote the improvement of the energy performance of buildings within the Community".

The European Union felt the best way to achieve this was to ask member states to ensure that when a building is built, sold or rented an energy performance certificate is made available to potential purchasers or tenants. Each member state is responsible for ensuring that an EPC is made available; within Northern Ireland the 'Department of Finance and Personnel' (DFPNI) are responsible under the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008.

For Northern Ireland energy performance certificates where made mandatory in the summer of 2008. They where phased in;

  • 30 June 2008: Sale of existing dwellings.
  • 30 September 2008: Dwellings and non-dwellings on construction.
  • 30 December 2008: Rental of existing buildings; sale of existing non-dwellings.

In addition to producing energy performance certificates for the residential sector, regulations where also in place to implement certificates for large public sectors buildings over 1000square meters. These are known as Display energy certificates or DEC's. They are measured by the amount of energy the building uses and are updated annually. Energy Performance certificates for the domestic or residential sector last for 10 years.

The only exceptions from needing an energy performance certificate are:

  • Places of worship.
  • Temporary buildings in use for less than two years.
  • Low energy demand buildings such as agricultural buildings.
  • Stand alone buildings less than 50m².
  • Lease Renewals & Extensions.

Energy Performance Certificates can only be produced by registered domestic energy assessors (DEA). The assessors are accredited by approved accreditation schemes and must register annually with the national registrar. There are a number of different accreditation schemes available to become a certified assessor. There are also two different types of assessor, domestic and non domestic energy assessor (DEA and NDEA). Every EPC produced is recorded on the registrar along with the data gathered from assessing the property. The registrar in Northern Ireland is maintained by a company called Landmark. EPC record ratings for the energy efficiency of a building and the environmental impact of a building.

Domestic Energy Assessors are trained to Level 3 which is Domestic level only and gathers 'Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure' (RDSAP). An on-construction EPC is a form of SAP assessment and the assessor would record more info like u values of the materials used, orientation of the building, areas of walls and windows etc. He is what's known as an OCDEA (On Construction Domestic Energy Assessor). Homes built since September 2008 require an OCDEA to produce an On-construction EPC (or new build EPC). There are other certificates required for new builds like the design SAP Calculations and the As Built SAP calculations. BRE is a body called the Building Research Establishment who will provide training and qualifications for SAP assessors. They also have their own software for the production of EPC's and SAP calculations. There are many different bodies like BRE ie Stroma, NHER, and Elmhurst. Commercial rating is undertaken by assessors who are Level 4 and 5. Level 4 is for commercial and public buildings level 5 for production or industrial buildings.

  1. Aim of Dissertation:
  2. Critically assess and analyse Energy Performance Certificates in the Residential lettings Sector of Belfast.

  3. Objectives:
    • Assess the impact of Energy Performance Certificates on the residential lettings sector.
    • Assess the views of current and potential tenants.
    • Assess the views of landlords.
    • Assess the views of Property professionals and Energy Assessors.

  4. Methodology:
  5. There are distinctive differences between 'Quantitative' and Qualitative' research.

In order to satisfy the stated aims and objectives the researcher must consider whether the research is to be of a "Quantitative" or "Qualitative" nature. (Williman, 2005).

Quantitative research is 'objective' in nature. It is defined as an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a hypothesis or a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analysed with statistical procedures in order to determine whether the hypothesis or the theory hold true. (Cresswell, 1994).

Qualitative research is subjective in nature. It emphasises meanings, experiences, description and so on, the information gathered in Qualitative research can be classified under two categories of research namely, exploratory and attitudinal. (Naoum, 2006)

Creswell aptly summarised the two concepts by suggesting 'Qualitative' research; the intent is to learn participants' views about a particular phenomenon. In respect of 'Quantitative' research, the intent is to see how data provided by participants fits an existing theory, thus the intent in 'Quantitative' Research is either to support or to refute an existing theory (Creswell, 2007).

  1. Literature Search / Review:
  2. Structured Interviews:
  3. Data Analysis:
  4. Case Study:
  5. Dissertation Structure:
  6. Correlation between Objectives, methodology and chapters:

Chapter Two:

Literature Review:

"Literature reviews help researches limit the scope of their inquiry, and they convey the importance of studying a topic to readers." Creswell (2003).

The idea of a literature review is that it will provide background information which will aid in the completion of this dissertation. A literature review will help develop a sound understanding of the research that has already been completed in the relevant field of study. A literature review is based on a sound and extensive knowledge of the chosen subject, this knowledge had to be generated by the studying of journals, reports, websites and newspapers.

As the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates happened in June 2008 then the majority of relevant information will be found on the internet as it is such a topical subject at present. There is also government legislation which provides a lot of relevant information.

The literature review is a key element of a 'Quantitative' study. The Literature review will assist the researcher in knowing which specific questions to ask, by developing issues and themes for the research and design process. To enable the researcher to carry out a meticulous review of the chosen area of study it vital that they consider all areas of associated literature. The researcher will also consider sources of secondary data. Secondary literature sources are those that cite from primary sources such as textbooks and newspaper articles, Naoum (2006).

Kyoto protocol:

DIRECTIVE 2002/91/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings.

"Energy in a Changing World" strategy.

The Lisbon Strategy:

Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008.

This literature review will concentrate on the conventions and protocols that lead to the creation of energy performance certificates. Included in this literature review will be a detailed look at an actually EPC and political views from members of parliament and energy / property professionals.

Climate Change:

Climate change is a change in the distribution of weather over time. It can be a change in the average weather or a change in the distribution of weather events around an average. Anthropogenic factors are human activities that change the environment. One of the major causes of climate change is the amount of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The UNFCCC main aim is to control the amount of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. The UNFCCC does not set any mandatory limits or guidelines to the amount of greenhouse gases but instead set protocols that would be compulsory and legally binding. The UNFCCC came into force on March 21, 1994 and at the time of writing the UNFCCC had 192 parties. Once the UNFCCC was formed it formed national greenhouse gas inventories. They used these inventories to set the benchmark levels for 1990. The Kyoto protocol uses these benchmarks to measure performance. The UNFCCC classified all members into three distinct groups;

  • Annex I countries.
  • Annex II countries.
  • Developing Countries.

Annex I countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels to targets that are mostly set below their 1990 levels. The UK must reduce there GHG by 12.5% of the 1990 levels by 2012. Annex II countries are simply a subgroup of Annex I countries and are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Annex II countries must pay the costs for the developing countries. Developing counties aren't required to reduce emissions under the agreement.

Kyoto Protocol:

This protocol is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All member countries of the UNFCC meet annually to discuss and assess it's progress relating to climate change. These meetings are known as Conferences of the Parties (COP). At the third COP, this took place in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan the UNFCC adopted the Kyoto Protocol. Its aim is to combat global warming by controlling our greenhouse gas emissions which enter and harm our atmosphere. The Kyoto Protocol was established in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. To date 187 countries have signed up to the protocol. The United States of America is the largest non-member. When rejecting the protocol Mr. Bush cited poor scientific facts,"protocol emission targets not scientifically based". Bush claimed that America stands to loose 5 million jobs and a further $400 billion in revenue should the treaty be adopted.

The Economics of Climate Change 2007:

Stern Review:

A 700 page report produced my Nicholas Stern and his team of economist at HM treasury for the British government. It discusses the effects of global warming on the world economy. The reports main conclusion is that early and strong action now will far out way the costs involved if no action where taken in relation to climate change. Stern stated that 1% of the global GDP would be enough to counteract the causes of global warming. However in August 2008 a report in the guardian newspaper quoted Stern that this figure should be increased approx 2% of GDP to account for faster than expected climate change.

One of the main conclusions of the stern review was:

"Emissions have been, and continue to be, driven by economic growth; yet stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere is feasible and consistent with continued growth". The review has come under some criticism however, the review, ultimately fails to provide a convincing case for spending a large amount of scarce financial resources on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Eric Neumayer 2007). While other papers argue that human-induced climate change is not real (Byatt et al., 2006 ).

Fuel Poverty:

Currently, 203,000 families, representing 33% of households in Northern Ireland, live in fuel poverty (NEA, 2004a NEA, Fuel poverty: the health imperative, NIHE/NEA, Belfast (2004).Niamh Shortt, Jorun Rugkåsa, 2007). Damp is one of the most common health hazards associated with poor housing and is largely a result of poor insulation and inadequately heated homes. In Northern Ireland social housing tenants spend a greater proportion of their income on energy needs than any other social group (Anon, 1997). The U.K. Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) was established in 1996 to address energy consumption of the national housing stock. Improving the thermal performance of dwelling envelopes in existing social housing is a priority in Northern Ireland as 79% of total domestic energy consumption is due to space-heating (Anon, 1996).


Within the UK the recommended method for measuring an buildings energy rating is 'standard assessment procedure' or SAP. This method calculates the amount of energy the building is using per annum. To calculate 'energy performance certicates' assessors use 'reduced data standard assessment procedure' or 'RdSAP'.

Political Opinions:

"Energy performance certificates make good economic sense" (Sammy Wilson 2009). The minister felt that making future tenants and home owners aware of the efficiency of the property will save them money on energy bills in the future. He felt that the more energy efficient properties will become increasing desirable and landlords will want to improve the rating of their properties.

Department of Finance and Personnel Northern Ireland:

The DFPNI are responsible for improving the energy efficiency of building in northern Ireland. They have introduced energy performance certificates and display energy certificates. They are the section of the government who are responsible for the introduction of the EPC's to Northern Ireland, responding to the European Union legislation 'Energy Performance of Buildings Directive'. Once this legislation was introduced the DFP have since been policing the matter. In a letter sent to all estate agents in October 2009 they stated that they would be visiting all agents to assess the number of properties that have an EPC available. They also noted that any property which doesn't have a valid EPC that the landlord could be liable to a £200 fine.

Chapter Three - Analysis of Public opinion and Professional Interviews:

A questionnaire was disturbed to tenants and home owners in the Belfast area. I emailed links to the online questionnaire which was setup through This website lets you create online surveys; I then emailed tenants and purchasers a link to the survey. I received 140 completed questionnaires. I then conducted analysis of this data using SPSS 17. The questionnaire data was analysed using SPSS 17. Frequency tables and cross tabulations highlight some of the trends in the data, graphs help represent this data in a more aesthetically pleasing manor.

From the above table you can see the frequency of the age. The largest age group was the under 30's which accounted for 61.4% of my data. Then the under 20's at 21.4%. I had a limited response from anyone over the age of 30.

Energy performance certificates where introduced to the Northern Ireland market in July 2008. Therefore anyone that has bought a property in the last 18months should have seen an EPC before they rented or purchased their property. From the above table 75.2% of people surveyed had bought or rented a property in the last 18months.

If you filter the results to show only those respondents who have rented or bought a property in this past 18 months (i.e. Since EPC's where introduced) then only 60 people or 42.8% where actually aware of Energy performance certificates. 32.9% of respondents had bought or rented in last 18 months and where not aware of the term EPC or energy performance certificate.

                As it is a legal requirement for all properties sold or rented in Northern Ireland to have an EPC you would imagine that more than 42.8% of purchasers and renters would have been familiar with the phrase EPC.

When asked how much the respondent knew about EPC's they had to rate their answer as either 1,2,3,4 or 5. 1 = knew nothing about epc's and 5 = new a lot about epc's. From the above table 54 respondents that said they where not aware of EPC's also said they knew nothing, 6 respondents answered "2" to this question. Out of the 80 respondents that said they where aware of the term EPC or energy performance certificate 14 (17.5%) of them knew nothing about it, 26 (32%) new very little about EPC's, 18 (22.5%) something's about EPCs, 8 (10%) new quite a bit and 17.5% new a lot about energy performance certificates.

                This would demonstrate that the majority of the people surveyed had very little knowledge of EPC's. This is quiet shocking as 75.2% of people surveyed had bought or rented a property in the last 18months.

From the above table the majority of respondents that bought or rented a property in the last 18 months did not know if the property had an EPC. A shocking 52 (49%) respondents didn't no if the property had an EPC. 46 (43.4%) respondents said their property didn't have an EPC, only 8 (7.5%) respondents confirmed that their property did have an EPC.

When asked if an Energy performance certificate would help to make a decision on a property 22.0% said it would not, 21.4% said it would help make a decision and 55.7% where not sure.

When asked 38.6% of respondents said they would pay more money for a property that was energy efficient. 28.6% said they would not pay more money and 32.9% said they might pay more money for any energy efficient property.

This survey has concluded that the majority of the sample purchasers and tenants in the Belfast area are not aware of energy performance certificates. More needs too be done to make people aware of EPC's and what they mean.

When the sale of a property takes place most purchasers arn't interested in the EPC rating. In the majority of cases the EPC isn't displayed in the property brochure. EPC's for sales properties are usually just created as the solicitor is reqired to have one before the sale can take place. Therefore the seller or purchaser never become aware of the rating or of the recommendations it contains.

The minimum EPC rating from my sample data was 20. The maximum EPC rating was 85 and the mean 59.26. If you compare this to the Northern Ireland average of 50, my data is therefore slightly higher. However this could be as Belfast has a better housing stock than more rural towns and villages where generally EPC ratings would be lower. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive 2006 Housing Conditions Survey report provides details of the SAP ratings for all properties in Northern Ireland. The mean SAP rating for housing in urban areas was 54.45 in 2006 and for rural housing it was 52.35. For the Belfast Metropolitan Area the mean SAP rating in 2006 was 54.96. This demonstrates clearly the difference in location to SAP ratings and therefore energy efficiency rating or EPC rating.

                The majority of my sample properties are terrace and apartment, the mean SAP rating for these types of properties are 55.45 and 63 consecutively. The average of these two figures would be 59, which is extremely close to the sample mean above (59.26).

                SAP ratings are produced for all new build properties. Since their introduction in 2008 EPC's have used RdSAP calculations to calculate the EPC rating. This involves special software models which uses known measurements of energy performance for the different aspects of the property which are:

  • Walls.
  • Roof.
  • Floor.
  • Windows.
  • Main heating.
  • Main heating controls.
  • Secondary heating.
  • Hot water.
  • Lighting.

If the Energy performance assessors recommendations are followed then the property could achieve a higher rating. This rating is also displayed on the energy performance certificate and is known as "potential" rating. The table above shows the min, max and mean figures for the sample data. The minimum rating is 33, maximum 87 and mean 68.8.

The improvements that the energy assessor recommends in the energy performance certificate are followed then the average each property can improve by 9.75 points. The minimum improvement a property can make is zero; therefore the owner can not do anything further to increase the efficiency of the property. The maximum potential increase is 37 points. This is a large potential increase and could move the property up two grades on the A to G scale.

A scatter plot of EPC rating vs Rental Price. There is no correlation between these to entities.

Scatter showing the EPC rating vs Number of bedrooms. For each of two, three and four bedroom properties there is a wide range of EPC ratings, ranging from twenties through to eighties for each. As there is only a small sample of properties for one and five bedroom properties it doesn't range as much.

                Two bedroom properties appear to cluster more around the 70 to 80 EPC rating more so than any other. The majority of two bedroom properties in Belfast would be apartments. These would have been more recently build or refurbished than three and four bedroom terraced properties.

                Research from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive 2006 Housing Conditions Survey report would also confirm that the older housing stock is less energy efficient; From the graph below it is evident that the newer the construction of the property the more energy efficient it is.

The most frequent grade for all properties in the sample was a "C" grade, the best performing properties where those with two bedrooms as they had most "B" and "C" graded properties. Three bedroom properties had the most "E" grades. However the sample size of 3 bedroom properties was much larger than that of four bedroom properties.

From the opposite it is clear that four bedroom properties have a quantity of "G" rating properties, no other group in my sample have any "G" rated properties.

EPC Rating depending on Heating Type:

The following analysis shows the EPC rating for each of the three different heating types found from my sample data. The pie chart below shows the range of heating types. Gas central heating systems account for 56% and oil 43%.

It is clear than Gas heating systems generally produce a better energy performance rating than that of oil fired central heating systems. 56.3% of gas fired central heating systems achieved a "C" rating in their EPC assessment. Whereas 46.3% of oil fired central heating systems achieved an "E" rating. Gas central heating systems also achieved many more "B" rated properties than oil. Economy 7 or electric heating systems are very poorly rated. However only 1 of the sample 155 properties did have this type of heating.

My sample data did not contain data to show if the properties where double glazed, the year they where build or the type of insulation. All of these characterises effect the EPC rating also. As the Rdsap measures these elements to provide a rating.

On an Energy performance inspection the Domestic energy assessor or DEA will assess:

  • Internal and external measurements of the property.
  • Details of heating and hot water systems.
  • Loft insulation measured and the presence (or not) of cavity wall insulation assessed.
  • Details of window glazing.
  • Wall constructions which will also include the thicknesses of wall.
  • Details of internal lighting, if the bulbs are energy efficient or normal.

If certain elements of the property are not accessable the assessor can assume certain details. ie. If there is no access to the loft the DEA will assume insulation or not depending on other aspects of the property.

Does the EPC rating effect the Property desirability?

To assess desirability the sample property data contained the number of "viewings" each property had. It also contained how many days the property was on the market for. This was basically the day the property was advertised until the day the property was rented.

A negative correlation between the number of viewings and the EPC rating of the property. The r squared value is 0.234, the closer this number is to one the better the data fits the model.

When the correlation calculations are run in SPSS 17 the table above is produced. A peasrsons correlation of -.484 shows that there is a negative correlation. Therefore as the EPC rating increases the number of property viewings decrease.

The EPC rating compared to the number of days a property is advertised on the market.

The EPC rating of a property increases the number of days it is on the market will decrease. Therefore negative correlation exists between these two values. The r squared value of the regression line is 0.233, the closer this number is to one the more accurately the data will fit the model.

Pearsons correlation is -.483, again proof that the two values are negatively correlated.

Two bedroom properties - EPC rating vs Days on Market and Number of Viewings.

When only the two bedroom properties are analysed the results are similar to all bedroom properties. There is some negative correlations in both graphs.

Three Bedroom Properties - EPC rating vs Days on Market and Number of Viewings.

Again when only three bedroom properties are analysed the results are still very similar. There is slight negative correlation between these values.

The negative correlation between the number of viewings and EPC ratings would suggest that the higher EPC rating the less people want to see / view the property. The negative correlation between EPC rating and days on the market would suggest that as the EPC rating increases the less time the property is advertised. Some would believe that the viewings should increases as the more demand for an energy efficient property the more potential tenants would want to view it. However, this is not the case. As a property increases in demand then tenants are much quicker to pay their deposit on the property to secure it, before someone else. Therefore it usually the case that on the most demanded houses there are significantly less viewings than less popular houses. When a tenant pays their deposit on a property the property is removed from the market and no further viewings take place.

                This would suggest that the higher the properties Energy performance rating the higher the demand for that property. This appears to be the case for all types of property, regardless of number of bedrooms or heating type.

Rental Price relating to EPC rating:

The study so far has proved that the higher the EPC rating the more demand for the property, as it is rented quicker than properties with lesser energy performance ratings.

The following analysis will determine if there is any correlation between rental price and EPC rating. It is well documented that location is the most influential variable in the rental or sale price of any property. Therefore the analysis of the property data will be separated by relevant postcode to help minimise location variations. The price of a property is also determined by the number of bedrooms by which it contains. This will also be take account of.

There is definitely a positive correlation between rental price and EPC rating in the two bedroom properties, however the correlation in the three bedroom properties is much less. The R squared value is 0.256 for two bedroom properties and 0.0240 for three bedroom properties which is extremely weak.

The previous analysis focuses on the number of bedrooms each property has, however location is also a relevant factor in the rental price. Therefore the further filtered to allow for this.

The largest sample areas are BT10, BT12, BT6 and BT9. Therefore I will focus the analysis on these postcode areas. These four postcode areas account for 58% of all the data collected.

There is slight positive correlation, however it is weak as both r squared values are 0.202 and 0.298. Which means that only 20% and 29% of the time would having a higher EPC rating result in a better rental price being agreed. However the property data when filtered to BT9 properties with two and three bedrooms only provided a small selection of properties to evaluate.

Slight positive correlation, however it is very weak. There are only a very small sample number of properties once the data has been filtered to BT10 properties with three bedrooms. Therefore any correlation drawn from this small population may be incorrect.

Chapter Five:

Structured Interviews:

This chapter highlights the interviews that where carried out in order to assist with further data analysis. The views and opinions of the key players in the energy efficiency field, especially in the residential sector of the Belfast Market.

  1. Interview with a Rental Management Agent based in Belfast:
    1. When renting a property, do you show the Energy performance certificate to the potential tenant? If so when do you show them and do you feel it is a good selling point?
    2. The EPC is usually displayed in the marketing brochure and also on our website. When the tenant looks through the brochure they sometimes comment on the rating but it isn't usually a big issue.

    3. What are the most important aspects of a property to a standard tenant?
    4. The most important aspect is usually the location, closely followed by number of bedrooms and condition. More often tenants are now desiring gas fired central heating over all other methods. Double glazed windows are usually a must also. Then things like a garden, garage and if the rooms are double or single bedroom.

    5. Have you ever been asked by a potential tenant for an EPC for a property that you have marketed?
    6. No, I don't really think tenants take much notice of the EPC, they only people I feel are interested is the DFPNI, they have visited the office a few times enquiring to see how many of our properties have epc. They also done a random spot check, we had to tell the dfpni if the property has a valid epc and if so provide them with then epc serial number.

    7. Since the introduction of EPC's, what percentage of the properties rented in your firm do you feel have had an EPC?
    8. I wouldn't be sure of an exact percentage, however maybe 50% of rented properties have now got EPC. Some landlords are happy not to get an epc done, when we tell the landlord they could get a fine they are happy to risk it. Some don't see the value in getting an EPC as they aren't living in the house and it doesn't matter to them how energy efficient it is.

    9. Do you feel that tenants take any notice of EPC's, do they use the rating to make a decision on the property?
    10. Tenants don't really look at the EPC, at most they look at the small graph which highlights the rating. I have never had a tenant as to see the whole epc report which highlights the things they can do to make the property more energy efficient.

    11. Has there ever been an occasion when you have lost a potential rental as the EPC rating has been poor?
    12. No, as I said, tenants don't really take much notice of the EPC rating. They are more interested with the location, rental price and number of bedrooms.

    13. How responsive do you think landlords have been to EPC's?
    14. Not very responsive, we as the agent usually ask them to provide us with a certificate, most landlords say they will get one but never do. We have had some success by providing EPC's for the landlord; we have sourced a couple of domestic energy assessors who provide us with a preferential rate.

    15. How often does a property have a valid EPC when a landlord asks you to market it?
    16. Unless we are remarketing a property that we rented last year the chances are they probably won't have a valid certificate. Most new landlords are still unaware of what an EPC actually is.

    17. If or when you provide a new landlord with an EPC do they use it to help improve the efficiency?
    18. I have never seen a landlord follow any of the advice to better the efficiency of the property. At the moment most landlords are trying to save every penny they can, EPC are unfortunately a necessary expense as it has become law to have one, however still to many landlords are happy not to get one. Until the law changes to require the estate agent to have an EPC before marketing then most properties still won't have a certificate. If a landlord is required to replace something in his property then they may look for a more energy efficient boiler or washing machine. I have actually had tenants complain before as the landlord replaced broken bulbs with energy efficient ones which take too long to heat up.

    19. Have any of the landlords that you represent as an agent been fined for not having an energy performance certificate.

    To my knowledge none of them have had a fine yet, the DFPNI have only checked in our office once and it was only a spot check. Some of those properties didn't have an EPC. However these landlords didn't get fined but received a letter highlighting the fact that they where required to get one.

  2. Interview with a letting agent in the Belfast area:
    1. When renting a property, do you show the Energy performance certificate to the potential tenant? If so when do you show them and do you feel it is a good selling point?
    2. No.

    3. What are the most important aspects of a property to a standard tenant?
    4. Condition, furnishing, bedrooms.

    5. Have you ever been asked by a potential tenant for an EPC for a property that you have marketed?
    6. No.

    7. Since the introduction of EPC's, what percentage of the properties rented in your firm do you feel have had an EPC?
    8. We done them - so all we made sure.

    9. Do you feel that tenants take any notice of EPC's, do they use the rating to make a decision on the property?
    10. Not yet - probably in few years I'd imagine.

    11. Has there ever been an occasion when you have lost a potential rental as the EPC rating has been poor?
    12. Nope.

    13. How responsive do you think landlords have been to EPC's?
    14. With us - good - because we told them had to have it, we can do it etc.

    15. How often does a property have a valid EPC when a landlord asks you to market it?
    16. Very few.

    17. If or when you provide a new landlord with an EPC do they use it to help improve the efficiency?
    18. Don't think so.

    19. Have any of the landlords that you represent as an agent been fined for not having an energy performance certificate?
    20. No.

  3. Interview with Domestic Energy Assessor based in Belfast:
    1. How long have you been a qualified DEA?
    2. Since December 2008.

    3. Approximately how many EPC have you completed?
    4. p>To date I have probably done close to 600, most of these have been in Belfast and surrounding towns. I have done everything from 1bedroom Bedsits to 6 bedroom mansions on the Malone Road.

    5. Have you noticed any trends with EPC's?
    6. Not as such, I generally measure the properties and record all the usual data such as insulation, windows, wall construction, boiler type ect. I then input this info into the computer system and it then provides the rating, it also lists all the recommendations. I can edit these recommendations if I feel some of them are not suitable.

    7. Where does the majority of your work come from?
    8. I work closely with a number of estate agents and solicitors in Belfast. I get most of my instructions from these. I have done a handful of certificates for private individuals who are generally just interested to find out more about their home.

    9. Do you feel many home owners take the advice the EPC offers?
    10. The certificates that I provide for home owners is usually used to better the efficiency of their property, they would phone me up to ask for advice on certain issues also. When I provide a certificate for a landlord it is usually just to stay on the right side of the law, the letting agent would sometimes put the EPC rating onto the property brochure and internet.

    11. Do you feel the introduction of EPC's have helped reduce the co2 emissions from the built environment?
    12. I'm not really sure; I don't think enough people really take much notice of the epc rating yet. Hopefully in later years it will become more important. I do think generally the whole country is becoming more energy efficient but I'm not sure how much of an impact EPC's have had on this.

  4. Interview with Landlord - Mr Samuel Patterson:
    1. How many properties do you own in Belfast?
    2. I currently own four properties in the Belfast area. I own two apartments and two four bedroom terrace houses in south Belfast.

    3. Are you aware of the term Energy Performance Certificate?
    4. Yes, my letting agent provided me with a lot of information about them. They sound like a good idea however I'm not sure how much notice a tenant would take of the EPC rating.

    5. How many of your properties have an EPC?
    6. Currently both my apartments have an EPC, I only purchased these 7 months ago, and therefore the person I purchased the property from had to provide one. I didn't see the EPC before I bought the property; the solicitor took care of it. I know they both are grade "C".

    7. Why do the other properties not have an EPC?
    8. I have owned the other properties for 7 years now, I have had both rented out since 2006 to long term tenants. However, I have just been given notice from one of these properties and therefore I will have to get an EPC done before I advertise this for rent again. My letting agent has advised that an EPC should cost me £65, they are going to provide this for me.

    9. Have you followed any of the advice in the EPC report?
    10. I haven't seen the EPC reports for either of my apartments. I won't be spending any unnecessary money on any of my properties. I usually furnish and decorate to a good standard. I would not have the money available to install insulation, new boilers or anything like that.

  5. Findings from Interviews:
  6. From the interview with two local Belfast letting agents, a domestic energy assessor and a landlord the response seems to be that:


  • Tenants don't use the EPC rating to help make a decision on the property.
  • Tenants base decisions on the rental price, location, condition and number of bedrooms.
  • Agents have never experienced a tenant not taking a property because of a poor EPC rating.
  • Tenants do not look at the EPC report and see what if anything they can do to make their new home more energy efficient.


  • Don't want to spend money making their properties more energy efficient due to the current economic climate.
  • Some landlords are happy not to pay for an EPC and risk getting fined by the DFPNI.
  • Estate agents are driving the demand to get an EPC provided for their properties.
  • When a certificate is produced it isn't used by the landlord.


  • Are persuading landlords to get an EPC, even although the law requires landlords to have a valid energy performance certificate, it is not the agents responsibility.
  • Are displaying the EPC rating on brochures and on the website.
  • Are working closely with domestic energy assessors to provide certificates at the best price possible.
  • Feel that higher rated EPC's may be slightly more popular because they are usually the properties that are more recent, with better use of space and design, they contain more recent and energy efficient boilers and technology.


"The walls were so damp and cold" fuel poverty and ill health in Northern Ireland: Results from a housing intervention Health & Place, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2007, Pages 99-110 Niamh Shortt, Jorun Rugkåsa.

A missed opportunity: The Stern Review on climate change fails to tackle the issue of non-substitutable loss of natural capital Global Environmental Change, Volume 17, Issues 3-4, August-October 2007, Pages 297-301 Eric Neumayer.

I. Byatt, I. Castles, I.D. Goklany, D. Henderson, N. Lawson, R. McKitrick, J. Morris, A. Peacock, C. Robinson and R. Skidelsky, The previous termStern Reviewnext term: a dual critique—economic aspects, World Economics 7 (4) (2006), pp. 199-229.Byatt et al., 2006.

Building Energy Analysis (BEA): A methodology to assess building energy labelling. Energy and Buildings, Volume 39, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 709-716 F.J. Rey, E. Velasco, F. Varela.

  • Hinrichs.R and Kleinbach.M, 2002. ENERGY Its Use and the Environment. 3rd ed. Edition. London: Thomson. Page 1-3.
  • Research Design- Qualitative, Quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. 2nd Edition- John W. Creswell 2003.
  • Walliman, N (2006) Your Research Project, 2nd edition.
  • Cresswell, J.W (1994) Research Design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 2nd ed.
  • Naoum, S.G (2007) Dissertation research and writing for research students.