On 18 February 2021, the Admin B building at Stellenbosch University, which houses the vice chancellor and executive team, received the first-ever EPC for a building in South Africa, in recognition of its commitment to energy efficiency. Bluedust Engineering Solutions, Stellenbosch University’s energy management consultants, were instrumental in achieving their EPC.
The EPC was issued by Energy Management and Verification Services (EMVS) who is 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.
Background to EPCs
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 South African National Energy Development Institute (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).
Aiming for a D
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.”
He 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.
JP Spangenberg from EMVS says, “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.”
Barry remarks, “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.
“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 optimize 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,” he concludes.