Delivering a seminar to property consultants about how to future-proof property and protect investments, it was clear just how much uncertainty there is about the future legal landscape around MEES* for commercial buildings.

There’s an expectation that, after years of procrastination from the Conservatives, Labour’s net zero mission will include a deadline for non-domestic properties to reach an EPC** band B. Once this happens, we can finally advise these consultants and landlord clients about achieving compliance with regulations, as well as how to improve asset value, track better tenants and quality leases, and feed into any ESG*** criteria. Let’s hope we don’t have too long to wait.

That session isn’t the only piece of training I’ve delivered recently, as I’ve just ‘wrapped’ a 30-minute film detailing the non-domestic energy assessment process with videographic firm Scopic Productions. I decided to get in front of the camera to produce a video for inexperienced energy assessors who could use it as part of their CPD****, as well as trainees. It aims to demystify the process of EPCs for clients, visually demonstrating how we gather robust data, with a follow-up tutorial video on processing. These films will also help me engage with schools and colleges as an introduction to the sector too.

I also recently delivered an online lesson about how to conduct energy assessments for industry body Proficiency which was attended by a surprising number of Energy Assessors with at least five years of experience under their belt. I assume their interest was due in some part to curiosity, earning some CPD, but also genuine learning, based on the fact the profession can be a solitary existence – hence the popularity of online forums and supportive social media groups. We should all aspire to build a community of Energy Assessors who feel safe to discuss technical issues or business-related matters with their peers.

While the accreditation schemes are obliged to offer CPD which are mainly provided online, I don’t think they fully appreciate the glaring training gaps that need to be filled from day one. There’s also a dearth of private companies stepping up to offer ad hoc training mentoring and support, which was one of the reasons why I decided to offer shadowing opportunities. As I outlined in my previous blog this can be a transformative experience for those new to the sector needing practical support. But it’s not just trainees who need help; newly qualified Assessors would also benefit from shadowing more experienced Assessors in the same way that newly qualified surveyors shadow colleagues for a whole year after gaining their degree. Shadowing could even be part of more experienced Energy Assessors’ CPD requirement.

After spending time with these trainees, I’m even more convinced that there’s an opportunity to develop an apprenticeship-style course to go alongside current offerings, perhaps with teaching split between online and in person. Training centres don’t currently provide great depth of learning on a practical scale and that’s particularly tough on those who are retraining and must pay thousands themselves for only a few days’ teaching. I fear that with a plethora of short and cheaper courses to appeal to that ‘tick box’ brigade, we are lowering the bar, resulting in some Energy Assessors getting away with delivering shoddy EPCs and leaving dissatisfied consumers when instead we should be creating a more professional sector that can be proud of its ethics and standards.

It would be great if Murton & Co could take on new Assessors through a one- or two-year apprenticeship, but we simply can’t because the level 3 and 4 courses – at just a few days long – are just too short to fully equip learners with the skills they need. I’m sure there are other companies with similar aspirations and frustrations. A Murton & Co training academy, which would appeal to trainees who aspire to a career rather than a job, would be the ideal solution. Perhaps the Labour government, with its mandate for more vocational education – through the new Skills England and Technical Excellence Colleges – and plans to create new high-quality jobs in the energy sector – will help accelerate this ambition through legislation and funding…Watch this space!

 

* Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard
** Energy Performance Certificate
*** Environmental and Social Governance
**** Continuing Professional Development

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