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10th Sep 2022

Architect Africa Online

Africa's Leading Architecture Aggregator

SA needs energy performance legislation sooner rather than later

As the winter season tightens its icy grip on South Africa, so the prospect of continued load shedding looms ever larger. And while some organisations have put measures in place to reduce energy demand in their buildings, most are not as energy efficient as they could be.

The situation is further exacerbated by Covid-19. “The outbreak of the pandemic saw many companies shift to a remote working model, leaving their office buildings almost, if not completely empty,” says Databuild CEO Morag Evans. “Despite this move, many lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling systems in these buildings continue to consume the same amounts of energy as they did before employees started to work from home.”

But government’s recently gazetted regulations that make it mandatory for non-residential building owners to display an energy performance certificate marks a significant step on the road to energy efficiency in South Africa.

According to the new legislation, building owners have until December 2022 to display an energy performance certificate (EPC) at the entrance to their building. The new rules apply to privately owned buildings larger than 2000 square metres (such as offices, schools, malls and theatres) and state-owned buildings larger than 1000 square metres.

The certificate must be issued by an accredited body and is valid for five years. Monitors will be appointed by the department of mineral resources and energy to ensure building owners comply with the new legislation.

“The new regulations, which are in line with international best practice, will compel architects, developers and contractors to take a proactive approach to building design and construction that takes energy efficiency into account at every stage of a project’s lifecycle, from design through to the installation of appliances.”

Indispensable business tool

“While building owners will not incur any penalties if they do not comply with the December 2022 deadline or fail to implement measures to improve a poor rating, they do run the risk of suffering reputational damage, especially when it comes to selling or letting their buildings,” Evans continues.

“New owners and tenants are increasingly demanding energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings. EPCs will enable them to easily compare the energy usage of various buildings and more accurately estimate operational costs prior to signing purchase or rental agreements.

“Building owners should therefore not view energy performance certification as punitive, but rather as an indispensable business tool that provides an accurate overview of their building’s energy consumption and empowers them to make informed decisions on where energy efficiency can be improved.

“Energy performance certification presents a significant opportunity to catalyse a mindset change in the construction industry that reduces South Africa’s dependence on fossil-based fuels as its primary energy source,” Evans concludes.

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