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Energy efficiency rated buildings have two years to comply in SA

Building owners in South Africa have two years to comply with new building energy regulations governing energy efficiency, which require formal assessment of your building energy consumption.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy gazetted Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings late last year.

As an agency of the Department, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) has been tasked with developing, hosting and maintaining a national Building Energy Performance Certificate Register in terms of these regulations. 

Barry Bredenkamp, SANEDI GM for energy efficiency and corporate communications, says they want to ensure compliance with the new regulations so building owners are not unnecessarily penalised. “Many people may not have heard about the new regulations, so we are determined to inform the public of what they entail. Ultimately, it must be highlighted that the responsibility lies with building owners to ensure that they are compliant with the regulations.”

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Certain classes of buildings need to have their energy performance assessed by a South African Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited inspection body. The inspection body will then issue an Energy Performance Certificate, rating the building from A to G for energy efficiency.

D-rating would typically indicate basic compliance

“To be compliant the EPC [Energy Performance Certificate] must be displayed at the building entrance. A D-rating would typically indicate basic compliance with the energy efficiency component of the national building regulations.

“This first assessment will form the benchmark for the building and give the owner an idea of what needs to be done to improve the rating in the future. Everyone should aim for an A-rating in the longer term,” said Bredenkamp. These certificates need to be renewed every five years, giving building owners the opportunity to improve their energy performance.

The current regulations apply to four different classes of buildings defined the national building standard:

  • Entertainment and public assembly facilities
  • Theatrical and indoor sports facilities
  • Places of instruction and offices with a net floor area of at least 2,000m2 in the private sector
  • 1,000m2 for buildings owned, operated and occupied by an organ of the state

These buildings must be compliant by 8 December 2022.

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Building energy assessments must be done by SANAS accredited inspection bodies, but there are not many of these currently in existence.

“Eligible companies need to undergo the application process to be reviewed by SANAS. If the application is successful, an on-site assessment team will be sent to assess the company’s compliance with ISO/IEC 17020 and SANS 1544, the two standards that contain the compliance criteria for accreditation. The compliance criteria include, but are not limited to qualifications, experience, training, skills, equipment, and understanding of the EPC standard (SANS 1544) and the accreditation standard (ISO/IEC 17020),” explained Bredenkamp.

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While the accreditation process is simple, it is necessary. “Having accredited bodies means that building owners can hire reliable, competent companies to perform their assessments and can rest assured that their EPC rating is valid and accurate. The astringent quality control system is important if the regulations are going to be successful in minimising South Africa’s energy use.”

While any company can become SANAS accredited, SANEDI is particularly excited about the potential for SMME development and job creation: “If emerging enterprises can get accredited soon, they will be able to take advantage of being early adopters with a very large potential customer base. We especially hope to see women- and youth-owned businesses take up this opportunity and get involved in the EPC market,” said Bredenkamp.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.