Energy efficiency rules could make one-quarter of Aberdeen’s office space obsolete


Vast majority of Aberdeen office stock could be unlettable by 2030 without improvements

MORE than one-quarter of Aberdeen’s office space could soon be at risk of being unusable if the Scottish Government follows the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) that apply to England and Wales, according to analysis from Knight Frank.

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The independent commercial property consultancy found that 28% of the Granite City’s office stock has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or below. Under rules brought in on April 1st 2023 in England and Wales, non-domestic properties that fail to meet this standard cannot be let to an occupier.

The MEES rules will be tightened twice more in the coming years. From April 2027, commercial properties will need at least an EPC rating of C to be lettable, while in 2030 this will rise again to only buildings that achieve an A or a B rating.

If Scotland follows a similar path, just under half – 49% – of the office space in Aberdeen will need to be brought up to a C rating or better. Just one-quarter, 24%, of current office space in the city is rated B or above – with 10% achieving A.

The Scottish Government is aiming for the country to be net zero by 2045 – five years ahead of the UK. Interim goals of reaching 75% and 90% of the overall target have been set for 2030 and 2040, with the built environment responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions according to the World Green Building Council.

A consultation document recently released by the Scottish Government set out its intention to align with the English EPC system and to reduce the validity of EPCs from ten years to five.

Current Aberdeen office stock by EPC ratings:

EPC ratingTotal floor area (m²)
B and above24%
C and above51%
E and below28%

                                                        Source: Energy Saving Trust

Matthew Park, office agency partner at Knight Frank Aberdeen, said: “It seems inevitable that there will be some form of legislation coming in Scotland that reflects what the UK Government has sought to do with MEES. With the Scottish Government setting an earlier net zero target and the built environment known to account for a significant share of emissions, it is only a matter of time before building owners will have to take action.

“Even in the absence of legislative pressure, many corporate occupiers in Aberdeen have their own net zero targets and will not consider space with an EPC rating below B. Landlords in the city will need to think carefully about their plans if they want to continue to attract occupiers – we already have a number of offices going through major refurbishment projects to bring them up to higher sustainability criteria.”

Gordon Hamilton, building consultancy partner at Knight Frank Scotland, commented: “We’re working with a range of landlords who are keen to get the EPC ratings of their buildings to as high a level as possible, given the direction of legislation and demands from current and prospective occupiers. There are a range of steps you can take, whether it is improving the mechanical and electrical features of a building or, in more extreme cases, potentially recladding the exterior.”

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