New legislation requires SA buildings to display energy performance certificate

By David Petrie, Technical Manager (Utilities) at FM Solutions Technical

Recently gazetted regulations published by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy now make it compulsory for non-residential buildings in South Africa to declare their energy consumption by displaying an energy performance certificate at the entrance of their buildings. Building owners have until December 2022 to comply with these new building energy regulations, which require a formal assessment of your building energy consumption.

These directives form part of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy under the National Energy Act, 2008 (Act No.34 of 2008), aimed at improving the country’s energy consumption. This process will determine the amount of energy that a specific building is allowed to consume per square metre. Similar energy performance certificate systems are currently in operation in the EU and the UK, where it was launched in 2007.

It is important to note that the new legislation does not apply to factories and manufacturing plants. It applies  to offices and public spaces, i.e. buildings that are used for entertainment and public assembly, theatrical and indoor sports activities as well as places of instruction.

These include schools, malls, theatres and places of work that are bigger than 2,000 square metres. Government buildings larger than 1,000 square metres must also comply with the new legislation. Buildings that have been in operation for less than 2 years, or have been subject to a major renovation within the past 2 years are exempted. Moreover, the new regulation stipulates that there are certain areas that can be excluded from the calculations, such as garages, car parks and storage areas.

An Energy Performance Certificate, similar to those displayed on household appliances, must be issued by an accredited body in accordance with SANS 1544:2014 – Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings. This certificate must rank the energy rating (ER) of a building on a performance scale (A-G). This is to the maximum energy consumption (kWh/m²/a) per building type as per the SANS 10400 XA.

The certificate must be issued by a SANAS accredited body and be submitted to the South African National Energy Development Institute. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will appoint inspectors to audit buildings for certificate compliance and validity. The certificates will be valid for a period of 5 years.

Energy assessments do not have a one-size-fits all approach, as there are various important factors that need to be taken into consideration, including the physical location and the climatic zone of the premises, history of energy usage, size of the building and nature of the business.

It is important to regularly conduct a detailed energy audit to identify the biggest electricity users. This allows landlords and tenants to consider replacing them with alternatives that would be more efficient and unlock significant savings in the long run. For this reason, organisations are encouraged to adopt the new legislation as an opportunity to implement good practices that would benefit their bottom line and improve overall efficiencies.

Image credit: Matthew Henry / Unsplash