By December 2022, some nonresidential buildings will be required by law to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which is done by measuring the building’s energy use intensity and giving it a colour-coded score from A to G, sustainable structures organisation the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) says.
"It is hoped that this will be a great boost for energy efficiency in South Africa, since the first step toward lowering energy consumption is knowing energy consumption. The new regulation requires that energy data is collected over the period of a year, to get an adequate measure of the building’s energy use.
"Thus, building owners will see how their buildings compare against the SANS 10400-XA benchmark energy use intensity value," the GBCSA notes.
"The challenge is now on to see which building in South Africa will be the next to get its EPC. The GBCSA is providing training workshops on EPC’s in two parts.
"The first one is for building owners, facilities managers and consultants interested in understanding more about the EPC process and the second session must also be attended for those wishing to become South African National Accreditation System- (Sanas-) accredited inspection bodies," says GBCSA CEO Lisa Reynolds.
In the same way that drivers check the fuel consumption of a car before renting or buying it, knowing the energy performance of a building empowers potential buyers or tenants to make a more informed decision. Once information on a building’s energy performance is publicly displayed, it will be much more difficult to justify operating an inefficient building, the GBCSA states..
Buyers and tenants do not desire to move into a building that will be more expensive to run and will be a drain on the planet’s resources, the council adds.
"To obtain an EPC, a building owner will need to gather some of the building's information, including the electricity consumption data for a year, the net floor area, information on the areas excluded, vacancy rates and contract a Sanas-accredited inspection body (IB) to audit the information.
The IB submits the energy performance value to energy research agency the South African National Energy Development Institute, which will include it in the National Building Energy Performance Register. A unique number for the EPC is generated and sent to the Sanas-accredited IB, which then issues the EPC to the client for display.
The National Building Energy Performance Register will assist with future benchmarking of building energy consumption and track progress toward the achievement of the targets set out in future EPC regulations.
"Understanding the energy performance of a building is a vital first step on the journey to a net-zero carbon building, which is the ultimate goal for the GBCSA. From knowing the energy use intensity of a building, leading to the energy efficiency retrofitting of that building, and ultimately the retrofitting into a net-zero carbon building.
"The GBCSA strongly advocates for net-zero carbon buildings. These are very highly energy efficient buildings, with the remainder of the power required for the operation of the building provided by renewable energy sources," Reynolds says.