Stellenbosch University Admin B building Photographer: Stefan Els

The Admin B building at Stellenbosch University, which houses the vice chancellor and executive team, has received the first-ever Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in recognition of its commitment to energy efficiency.

The EPC was issued by Energy Management and Verification Services (EMVS), the first inspection body accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) to assess and issue an EPC rating for eligible South African buildings.

Bluedust Engineering Solutions, Stellenbosch University’s energy management consultants, were instrumental in achieving their EPC.

The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) believes that the issuing of the first-ever EPC for a building is a landmark achievement that will encourage energy efficiency across the board.

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According to the International Energy Agency buildings account for approximately 30% of global energy consumption and 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. These figures could easily grow in Africa – and particularly in South Africa – due to increasing urbanisation. 

EPCs regulations

In December last year, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) passed into law a set of Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings.

EPCs are recorded by the SANEDI which is an agency of the DMRE. SANEDI is specifically tasked with hosting and maintaining a national Building Energy Performance Register, to keep track of progress towards the achievement of the goals and targets set out in the EPC Regulations.

EPCs rate buildings’ energy performance from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient and G the worst, with D being the mid-point, when benchmarking against the average figures quoted in the national South African Building Standard SANS 10400-XA.

For the purposes of the EPC, a building’s energy performance is measured in terms of kilowatt hours per square metre per annum (kWh/m2/pa) of net floor area in accordance with the National EPC Standard, (SANS 1544).

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Barry Bredenkamp, SANEDI’s general manager for energy efficiency & corporate communications, explains: “Buildings must try and achieve at least a D-rating which is on par with the national benchmark. Their EPC must be displayed at the building entrance, no matter what their rating, in order to be compliant with the regulations.” 

Bredenkamp continues: “The regulations apply to non-residential buildings (specific occupancy classes) with a net floor area of at least 2,000m2 in the private sector, and 1,000m2 for buildings owned, operated or occupied by an organ of state.”

Property owners and government entities have until 7 December 2022 to ensure that their buildings adhere to the regulations. Penalties for non-compliance have not yet been stipulated and currently stand at the discretion of the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe.

Energy efficiency improvements

JP Spangenberg from EMVS: “South Africans should not see this as a punitive expense, but as the responsible thing to do in our commitment to address climate change and sustainability matters. EPCs are, in essence, a tool that gives clients a snapshot view of their building energy performance, empowering them to make informed decisions relating to energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy integration.”

Bredenkamp noted: “Stellenbosch University’s being awarded an A-rated EPC so soon after the regulations were gazetted, really is a phenomenal achievement and they should be applauded for this major step forward.”

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Nadeem Gafieldien, Stellenbosch University’s director of property services, passionately supports all efforts towards sustainability: “Stellenbosch University is committed to the UN SDGs and a sustainable future.  While this EPC demonstrates this commitment, we are also in the process of certifying many of our buildings, using the Green Building Council’s neighbourhood tool in our efforts towards a net zero carbon future.”

Bluedust Engineering Solutions’ Dr Frank Duvenhage: “This highlights Stellenbosch University’s continued efforts over the past few years to be more energy efficient and to respond with earnest to the repeated calls by government to use energy sparingly and to reach their goal of a net-zero carbon future. Hopefully, this achievement will encourage other building owners to follow suit.”

Bredenkamp concluded: “The national drive towards energy efficiency will unlock the wider value chain, as building owners look to implement more efficient systems. Economic activity will be stimulated, as building owners work towards achieving compliance in areas such as HVAC, lighting, building retrofit, energy monitoring and more energy-efficient appliances and equipment, to optimise and reduce energy usage. This will involve engineering firms and other Energy Service Companies (ESCos), who will typically be contracted to do these energy efficiency upgrades, thereby creating much-needed job opportunities in the energy sector.”