Data on the energy performance of buildings is valuable to researchers, local authorities and environmental organisations in delivering national climate change objectives. Unfortunately, MHCLG had stopped publishing energy performance certificates (EPCs) as data on Open Data Communities following recent changes to data privacy regulation.
The digital land team conducts research with users into the needs for data relating to planning and housing. In particular, we've been researching companies in the emerging PropTech industry. We learnt how there is very little other information available on buildings and properties, and how vital the availability of EPC data was to developing PropTech services.
Our users have used the EPC data in a wide variety of important and interesting ways. These include presenting the data at a ward level, showing the rating when searching for property for sale, making a map of house price-per-square-metre, and assessing the risk of buying houses or lending rental deposits. Many of these applications help improve the energy performance of buildings as well as having wider benefits for planning and the housing marketplace.
Not keeping the EPC data up to date broke these services. PropTech users told us this experience reduced their confidence in our team vision and it would be harder for them to trust us to keep other datasets up to date.
The tweet below shows how many users of the data felt:
Along with user research, embedding policy practitioners into the digital land team has given us invaluable insight into issues around EPC data and has helped us to better engage decision makers. As a result of this work, we have updated the guidance and resumed publishing the EPC data on Open Data Communities under a revised privacy notice, which includes the ability for a property owner to opt-out of the register.
The digital directorate in MHCLG is also in the process of developing a new service for finding an energy certificate or assessor. The service recently passed its GOV.UK alpha assessment and will shortly be moving to beta. This new service will help us improve the production process for EPC data and help other people relate it to the planning, housing and other data digital land is making available.