L&G launches voluntary operational ratings certificate developed by NEF

20th June 2014

Legal & General Property (LGP) announces that it is piloting a new voluntary operational rating scheme called VolDECs. Based on Display Energy Certificates (DECs), this represents an innovative approach for private sector ownership of commercial property and responds to the absence of a government rating scheme.

VolDEC - the voluntary operational rating scheme

Funded and tested by LGP, the VolDEC scheme has been developed by the National Energy Foundation, an independent charity that has been at the forefront of improving the use of energy in buildings since 1988 and independent energy consultant, Phil Jones of Building Energy Solutions. The scheme responds directly to Government’s U-turn on its commitment to extend DECs to commercial buildings by October 2012 as pledged in the Carbon Plan in March 2011 and expected through the 2011 Energy Bill.

Since April 2008 it has been mandatory to display DECs in buildings over 1,000 sq m that are occupied by public authorities or institutions providing a public service. VolDEC’s use the same methodology as statutory DECs and a similar certificate layout with an A-G scale, but that’s where the similarity ends.

VolDECs are based on relatively simple data, making them inexpensive and quick to produce. Separating out tenant energy outputs from those produced by the common parts of a building, the aim of the project is to provide property owners and operators with cost-effective, user-friendly energy ratings for only the areas of an asset which are within their control to improve.

The scale has been extended to include G1 to G4 ratings, providing low ranking buildings with a more defined rating in order to encourage improvement, as well as U (Unclassified) rating for buildings where performance or data is exceptionally poor. VolDECs also include a certificate quality rating: High, Medium and Low, to encourage improvements in data quality.

Debbie Hobbs, Head of Sustainability at Legal & General Property, commented: “We believe that VolDECs are a great first step in engaging managing agents and tenants to improve energy performance. At a lower cost than a statutory DEC, we feel that it is truly cost effective to roll out across large fund portfolios and will allow us not only to determine the annual operational rating of our assets in order to ensure that our supply chain is managing them effectively but most importantly to act if any exceptions show up. In time we hope to extend the scheme to cover other environmental aspects.”

Phase one of the scheme is focused on the office sector and has already been successfully tested on 16 of LGP’s major multi-tenanted office properties. Phase two of the pilot project will include working with other forward-thinking partners to expand the sample of offices and to extend the scheme to other asset classes such as shopping centres and retail parks. VolDEC is a ‘not for profit’ scheme for the benefit of the industry and hopes to gain the backing of the whole industry using sector specific benchmarks. The key aim is to highlight building energy performance and encourage improvement but also to conduct research to gradually improve our benchmarks.

Phil Jones of Building Energy Solutions, who also chairs the CIBSE Energy Performance Group, said: “This relatively simple tool will ultimately encourage deeper analysis to benefit building operators, designers and the whole industry. VolDECs will provide a ‘soft start’ for the commercial sector to measure performance and aims to set common standards through an industry wide scheme but tailored by sectors.”

Kerry Mashford, CEO of the National Energy Foundation said: “We believe that VolDECs offer a simple approach to measuring and highlighting the in-use energy performance of commercial buildings. They can offer new benefits to building owners, operators and tenants by providing simple energy rating benchmarks which more closely match their buildings and areas of influence. We hope that VolDEcs will also contribute to the development of better benchmarks to benefit the wider industry.”

Bill Hughes, Managing Director of Legal & General Property, said: “As one of the UK’s largest institutional property fund managers, with £13.1bn of property assets under management, at LGP we recognise the critical importance of understanding our energy output in order to ensure properties are managed in the most efficient and sustainable manner possible. Additionally, as a leader in employing best practice techniques in all areas of sustainability, we believe that it is our responsibility to engage the entire industry in driving the green agenda forward, particularly where it is apparent that there is a void in policy and regulation.”

Notes for editors


Legal & General Property:
Legal & General Property (LGP) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), one of Europe’s largest institutional asset managers and a major global investor. LGIM manages approximately £463bn in assets on behalf of more than 3,100 clients (31 March 2014) and provides products and solutions spanning all asset classes. LGP is the fourth largest institutional property fund manager in the UK, managing or co-managing 18 separate funds or vehicles including three segregated mandates with an aggregate asset value of £13.1bn as at 31 March 2014. These funds include:

Specialist Pooled Funds

  • The Leisure Fund Limited Partnership; Industrial Property Investment Fund; Arlington Business Parks Partnership; and the English Cities Fund

Single Asset Vehicles

  • Bracknell Regeneration Partnership; Central Saint Giles Partnership; Performance Retail Limited Partnership and Warrington Retail Limited Partnership

Balanced Funds

  • Life Fund; Linked Pensions; Linked Life; Managed Fund; Property Unit Trust; UK Property Income Fund; LPI Income Property Fund and the Hybrid Property Fund

LGP’s UK-focused fund management platform has built and retained a strong track record of out-performance across the sector. Owing to its size, diversity and penetration, it benefits from best in class banking and property industry contacts which, along with its wealth of in-house skill and expertise, have enabled it to continue to attract and secure high quality market opportunities. Taking a client-centric approach, the business places the highest priority upon integrity and transparency, leveraging upon the significant resources provided by the wider LGIM platform. Sector specialists cover each sphere of the market and are supported by LGP’s market-leading research capability.

LGP’s sector specialisms cross all facets of the real estate market. In particular, the Company has a major development platform, responsible for delivering West End landmark building, Central Saint Giles, and Agar Street, its high profile Covent Garden office scheme, amongst others, and is currently involved in bringing forward a number of significant town-centre retail and leisure regeneration projects, including Bracknell, Trowbridge, Northampton and Eastbourne.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones of is an independent energy consultant with over 30 years' experience in the buildings sector. Phil has spent his career trying to make buildings more energy efficient and investigating failing buildings. For the last 20 years he has run independent energy consultancy Building Energy Solutions where he carries out building energy research and training across a wide range of buildings and technologies. He is the original author of CIBSE Guide F - Energy Efficiency in Buildings. He also wrote TM 31 on Building Log Books and TM39 on Building Energy Metering. Phil is a leading specialist on energy benchmarking of buildings, he chairs the CIBSE Energy Performance Group and is a member of the CIBSE Benchmarks Steering Group. In 2010 Phil was involved with UCL in analysing the DEC database for CIBSE.