Calls for energy flexibility building metric

Octopus Energy’s Centre for Net Zero and the Energy Systems Catapult have called on the government to introduce a Smart Building Rating (SBR), designed to incentivise demand flexibility.

The rating would work in a similar way to the current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) process, with buildings scored on their flexibility capacity.

Buildings would be given higher scores based on technologies capable of delivering flexibility, such as electric vehicle chargers, heat pumps, smart thermal stores, batteries and solar.

MP Chris Skidmore, chair of the Independent Net Zero Review, has thrown his weight behind the SBR proposal.

He said: “Decarbonising homes is at the heart of the UK’s journey to net zero. The future energy system will need buildings to be both energy efficient and able to provide energy flexibility.

“In placing a value on a building’s capacity for energy flexibility, the Smart Building Rating can help us to achieve this. It is a prime example of forward-thinking policy-making that aligns with a data-driven, digital future energy system.”

The proposal is for the SBR to work alongside a reformed EPC rather than replace it. The Centre for Net Zero and Energy Systems Catapult will now be collaborating on the development and trial of a proof-of-concept SBR to demonstrate its policy value.

It is supported by a cross-industry coalition, including E3G, Energy Savings Trust, the UK Green Buildings Council, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Association for Renewable Energy & Clean Technology, Nesta, the Association for Decentralised Energy, the MCS Foundation, Thermal Storage UK and Good Energy.

Lucy Yu, chief executive of Centre for Net Zero, said: “Flexibility is not optional; it is essential to a net zero energy system. Whilst it comes in many forms, consumer flexibility is the lowest-cost way of keeping supply and demand in balance – but the current landscape is not conducive to rapidly scaling it.

“The Smart Building Rating is designed to confront this challenge head on, ensuring that we can unlock the benefits that a flexible energy system affords – from cheaper bills to cleaner, more secure energy.”

Guy Newey, chief executive of Energy Systems Catapult, added: “The Smart Building Rating would enable businesses, government and other stakeholders to better target and incentivise uptake of the technologies needed to achieve flexibility from homes.

“It would also help to stimulate innovation, boosting the market for new flexible products and services, where the UK has some of the most exciting and high growth-potential companies.”

Demand flexibility is predicted to play a greater role in balancing the grid in the coming years.

Last week, the ESO announced that it was confident that take-up of this winter’s DFS will be at least three times the size of last winter’s scheme.

Under a “fairly moderate” scenario, the ESO expects around 1GW of capacity to be made available through the DFS. In a more optimistic outlook, the ESO thinks up to 2GW could be made available.

The moderate estimate of 1GW is triple the 350MW made available through the DFS last winter, while the ambitious 2GW target is six times as much.