The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) is leading the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Practitioner Skills Programme, in partnership with the Institute of Energy Professionals Africa, to train 50 qualified youth to obtain energy use data required for buildings’ EPCs.
EPCs provide buildings a rating based on the amount of energy consumed per square metre.
The training initiative involves 50 qualified and mostly unemployed young electricians, who will soon start the three-month EPC Practitioner Skills Programme. The electricians are the first of what will hopefully become a growing cohort of artisans with special skills in energy efficiency, SANEDI said on April 13.
“EPCs are issued by companies accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (Sanas), but many more energy companies employing many thousands of people with EPC skills will be required to obtain energy use data on the tens of thousands of buildings covered by these regulations,” the institute said.
The electricians will be trained to assemble all the critical energy use data required by the Sanas-accredited companies to rate buildings. The course combines theoretical and practical training in which mentors play a prominent role.
Each trainee will receive a R15 000 stipend payment for the duration of the three-month programme.
“With buildings estimated to be responsible for between 30% and 40% of carbon emissions worldwide, the South African government in December 2020, introduced the regulations primarily to encourage building owners to work towards making their buildings as energy efficient as possible.
“However, the regulations would deliver multiple benefits if correctly implemented,” said SANEDI renewable energy manager Dr Karen Surridge.
The EPC Practitioner Skills Programme has the potential to create many thousands of jobs. A group for whom the programme is particularly welcome are qualified young electricians who are often unable to find work, she said.
“The experience gained by qualified EPC practitioners will open opportunities for them to become involved in other aspects of energy efficiency of buildings, such as the planning and installation of energy efficient products, equipment and devices.
“Electrical contracting and energy services companies that want to add to their range of services by undertaking EPC work could also open work opportunities for EPC practitioners,” Surridge said.
Further, owners of buildings will also benefit by making their buildings more energy efficient, she added.
“We have done a lot of energy usage assessments and have always been struck by how many building owners or operators there are who have very little idea of how much energy they use,” she explained.
“The EPC process will help them to understand what they consume and will draw their attention to areas in which they could make improvements. By being more energy efficient, they will save money on electricity. Improving energy efficiency will also boost the value of a building.
“In addition to reducing carbon emissions and helping South Africa meet its international commitments to combat climate change, energy efficiency will also reduce electricity demand on the national grid and possibly help towards reducing load-shedding,” Surridge said.
Two technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, namely the Ekurhuleni East TVET College and the College of Cape Town, will be able to offer the course after the EPC Practitioner Skills Programme has been completed.
Other TVET colleges that join the programme will have the opportunity to have their lecturers trained to offer the EPC for Buildings short course and will receive marketing materials to advertise the availability of the short course at their institution.
Owners of buildings, in four categories, are required to obtain and prominently display an EPC by December 7, 2022. Buildings covered by the regulations include office buildings, buildings accommodating entertainment facilities, educational institution buildings and places of public assembly, such as sporting facilities and community centres.
An accurate figure of the number of buildings covered by the regulations is not available but SANEDI says estimates vary between 150 000 and 250 000.
Public buildings with a net floor area of 1 000 m2 or more, and privately owned buildings of 2 000 m2 or more, in the four categories are also expected to comply with this government regulation.
An EPC rates a building on a scale of A to G, similar to appliance energy efficiency ratings.
An A-rated building is the most energy efficient and typically will consume up to 115 kWh/m2/y.
A D-rating is the benchmark rating, which is in line with national building regulations.
The programme is supported by the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy; the Department of Higher Education and Training; the Energy Water Sector Education and Training Authority; and German development agency GIZ Skills Development for a Green Economy programme – a German Technical Cooperation Programme implemented on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.