Owners of buildings in South Africa have less than one year left to obtain and prominently display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or risk a fine of R5 million, five years imprisonment or both.
The regulations, under the National Energy Act, were gazetted a year ago, on 8 December 2020, and apply until 7 December 2022, meaning that building owners who have not acted have just under a year left in which to comply. The regulations require that owners of four categories of buildings must obtain an EPC, which in general terms, gives a building a rating based on the amount of energy consumed per square metre.
The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), which maintains an EPC register on behalf of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), has urged building owners to take all necessary steps to comply with EPC regulations, emphasising that compliance affords them, and the country a range of benefits.
SANEDI General Manager for Energy Efficiency, Barry Bredenkamp says compliance with EPC regulations will enable building owners to identify where they could introduce energy efficiency measures that would, in turn, save them money and possibly increase the value of their buildings. “An energy efficient building is generally a better environment in which to work and is significantly less expensive to run, so an owner can potentially justify a higher price if they want to sell or impose a higher rental for office space,” explains Bredenkamp.
“The more energy efficient buildings become, the more they will contribute to taking electricity demand off the national grid. This could help to ease loadshedding, and by reducing carbon emissions, building owners will be helping our country to meet its international obligations to combat climate change.”
The categories that currently need to comply are offices, entertainment facilities, educational institution buildings, and places of public assembly such as sporting facilities and community centres. The regulations apply to government buildings of more than 1,000 sq metres and privately-owned buildings of more than 2,000 sq metres. An accurate figure of the number of buildings covered by the regulations is not available but Bredenkamp says estimates vary between 150,000 and 250,000 buildings that need to comply with the regulations.
An EPC rates buildings on a scale of A to G in a similar way to how appliances are rated for their energy efficiency. A D-rating is the benchmark rating which is in line with the national building regulations. An EPC must be prominently displayed in the foyer of a building.
“The regulations do provide penalties for any particular rating lower than an A-rating, but the primary objective in obliging building owners to obtain EPCs is to make them aware of their energy consumption and encourage them to be more energy efficient if their EPC rating is poor,” explains Bredenkamp.
“Buildings are responsible for between 30% and 40% of carbon emissions worldwide. EPC programmes are commonplace in many parts of the world and in some cases even extend right down to the level of residential buildings, and they are one of many energy efficiency measures currently being implemented to drive down fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions worldwide.
“We had cause to celebrate when South Africa introduced EPC international best-practice a year ago, and we are hoping that many more of our building owners will see the value in energy efficiency.”
Bredenkamp adds that the process of obtaining an EPC has significant job creation potential. “An EPC must be issued by a South African National Accreditation System accredited inspection body. With many thousands of buildings to be rated, inspection bodies will almost certainly need to employ significant numbers of individuals to assist them in gathering the required data, measurements and related information, for their final review and sign-off”.
To this effect, SANEDI in partnership with the Institute of Energy Professionals Africa (IEPA), are making available an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Practitioners Skills Programme which is a demand-oriented, dual-structured short course for Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings. The Skills Programme aims to qualify young electricians for income-generating employment. The EPC Practitioners Skills Programme is supported by the GIZ Skills Development for a Green Economy ll (SD4GE II) programme, a German Technical Cooperation Programme implemented on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
The programme envisages to enable colleges in Gauteng and Western Cape to make the EPC for Buildings course available to their engineering students after the program and colleges are invited to express their interest to participate. A total of 50 students, half in Gauteng and half in Western Cape, will be placed through the programme and electricians may express interest to apply as well. Key to the success of this program is workplaces that are looking to use EPC Practitioners to meet the Regulatory requirements, workplaces are invited to express their interest to mentor a student, and enter the mentorship training program as part of the EPC Practitioner Skills Programme where IEPA will guide the mentors to successful outcomes for the students. Please complete this short online application to EXPRESS YOUR INTERESTS.
For more information on the EPC regulations, go to https://www.sanedi.org.za/Energy_Performance_Certificates.html and Notice 700 of Gov Gazette 43972 of 8 December 2020