Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

How to cut carbon emissions from business buildings

How to cut carbon emissions from buildings

Buildings are responsible for around 40 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions, with business properties accounting for around half of that.

There are plenty of simple, low-cost measures you can take to cut energy use within your buildings and lower CO2 emissions. These include installing movement-sensitive light sensors in toilets and other little-used areas and turning down the thermostat by a couple of degrees.

Energy efficiency

There may be additional things you can do - such as installing double-glazing and improving roof insulation - to help make buildings more airtight.

You can consider installing Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems, particularly when a planned replacement of boilers or heating systems is due.  

Energy efficient building regulations

If you are having new premises built, or you are making structural changes to your existing premises, you must make sure they meet the requirements of:

  • Part F of the Building Regulations in Northern Ireland
  • Section 6 of the Building Regulations in Scotland.

Northern Ireland: DFP: Building regulations

Scottish Government: Energy performance of buildings (PDF, 1.79MB)

All commercial buildings require an energy performance certificate (EPC) when they are bought, let or sold. An EPC indicates how energy efficient a building and its services are. An EPC also contains recommendations for cost-effective changes that can be made to improve the building's energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions.

You must make sure you comply with the requirements of the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. These include getting your air-conditioning systems regularly inspected and obtaining an energy performance certificate when you construct, sell or rent buildings.

Northern Ireland: DFP: Energy Performance Certificates

Scottish Government: Energy Performance Certificates

Produce an action plan

In Scotland, owners of non-domestic buildings must assess the energy performance of their buildings and produce an action plan to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This must be passed on to new owners if the building is sold. There are provisions that make clear when the improvements outlined in the action plan must be carried out.

The Assessment of Energy Performance of Non-domestic Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2016       

You may be eligible for a number of tax breaks if you introduce energy efficiency measures. See the page in this guideline: Tax breaks to encourage energy efficiency

Further information

Carbon Trust: Loans for energy saving equipment

Zero Waste Scotland has produced a series of free, online training modules for SMEs. The training will help develop the skills and knowledge needed to put in place effective resource efficiency measures in your business. They deal with energy, waste and water efficiency. You can work through them at your own speed, choosing the modules that are relevant to your business.

ZWS: Green Champions Training

Department of Finance and Personnel

Department of Finance and Personnel: Improving the energy performance of buildings

Department of Finance and Personnel: Energy Performance Certificates


Scottish Government: Energy Performance of Buildings

Scottish Government: Energy Performance Certificates

In this Guideline

How climate change affects your business

How to cut carbon emissions from energy use

How to cut carbon emissions from business travel

How to cut carbon emissions from business buildings

How to design low-carbon products

How to find suppliers of low-carbon products

Tax breaks to encourage energy efficiency

Comply with emissions trading requirements

International climate change projects and the carbon offset market

How to get involved with Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation projects

Purchasing carbon offsets

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