You may have heard about it in the news: energy label C will become mandatory for offices. Perhaps you have also received a letter from the government to remind you of this. But what consequences does this have for you as a tenant, user, or owner of a building? And what is expected of you now? In this blog – which we wrote together with law firm Bird & Bird – you can read what your obligations are and how you can address the building owner.
Energielabel C mandatory for offices
If you occupy office space, you will soon receive a letter from the government stating that “your” office building must have at least energy label C as of January 1, 2023. The government even threatens to close offices that do not meet this legal requirement.
How many offices have energy label C?
Research by the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland shows that in July 2021, some 65,000 offices did not meet the label C requirement. Of all offices to which this new obligation applies, 12% have energy label D or lower. In addition, 48% of offices have not yet registered an energy label. The other 40% already have energy label C or higher and therefore do not have to act immediately.
How do you obtain energy label C?
If your building currently has an energy label lower than C, energy-saving measures are needed to remedy this. You can think of new insulation, solar panels on the roof, or better glazing.
What is energy label C for offices?
Before we elaborate on the energy label C that is now mandatory, first a pressing question: what is energy label C? An energy label varies between A and G, where A stands for a very energy-efficient building and G for a building that is not very energy efficient. Energy label C means that an office building has a reasonably low energy consumption, often because several energy-saving measures have been taken.
The energy label looks at the amount of fossil energy used, any drafts caused by poor insulation, whether or not there are solar panels and what kind of window frames the building has. An energy label C means an energy consumption between 190.01 and 250 kWh per square meter per year.
What energy label does my office have?
You can get insight into the label of your office building via EP-online.nl. Also, your energy label is often included as an attachment to the lease agreement.
What does the energy label C obligation entail?
As part of the objective of the Paris Climate Convention, the government has introduced several sustainability measures. The energy label C requirement for offices is one of them.
Based on the Buildings Decree 2012, the responsibility for meeting the energy label C requirement lies with the office building owner. But this can also have far-reaching consequences for you as the office building tenant. The most important of these? If your office building has an energy label worse than C, there is a ban on using or keeping the office building in use. This is a hard requirement that cannot be waived.
In theory, this could mean that by January 1, 2023, you will no longer be able to use the leased premises. Therefore, it is very important to comply with the energy label C requirement well before January 1, 2023.
However, it does not stop at label C compliance. In 2030, all office buildings must comply with energy label A.
Exceptions to the label C obligation
The label C obligation does not apply to all office buildings. For example, an exception applies to monuments, small offices, and offices that will be in use for a maximum of two years.
The consequences if you are tenant
If you rent the office space, the primary obligation lies with the building owner. After all, he rents the office space to you and is therefore responsible in that respect for obtaining and maintaining the required permits, exemptions, and consents. This also includes the label C obligation.
The landlord, incidentally, only has the obligation for things that are part of the leased property. If you rent a shell building (for example, without lighting and/or climate control installation), you may be responsible for making these things more sustainable. The exact rules regarding this subject go too far for this blog and strongly depend on your lease contract. Of course, we at Solved are happy to advise you individually on the consequences for you.
The consequences if you are an owner-user
If, in addition to being a user, you are also the building owner, you do have the entire obligation to make the building comply with energy label C.
So, what to do?
First of all, you must know what your current energy label is. This is often included as an appendix in the lease but can also be requested via EP-online. Keep in mind that an energy label is valid for ten years and must be renewed.
Does your property have an energy label lower than energy label C? Then energy-saving measures are needed to meet the obligation. In that case, it is advisable to ask your landlord in writing for a plan of action. What things will he change? When will this take place? And what nuisance can you expect from this? For example, it would not be pleasant to replace
the exterior glazing in the middle of winter or the cooling system in the hottest weeks of the year.
To help you take the first steps towards your building owner, Bird&Bird’s real estate lawyers have prepared a sample letter for you to use free of charge. Download this letter to alert your landlord to the energy label C requirement here.