Implementing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in Government Buildings

Submitted by: Simphiwe Ngwenya, Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Government buildings are large consumers of electricity. Energy Performance Certificates can result in improved energy efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in public buildings (Source: 123RF Stock Photo).

Draft regulations on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) to be issued under Section 19 of the National Energy Act, 2008 (Act No. 34 of 2008) have been prepared by the Department of Energy. The promulgation of these regulations for buildings in South Africa is expected to happen in the near future. According to these regulations, EPCs will have to be displayed in government buildings that have a floor area greater than 1,000m2. Currently, EPC’s are only recommended for buildings that already comply with SANS 10,400 regulations.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

EPCs for buildings are documents that contain statistics about the energy consumption and efficiency of a building or facility.  EPCs enable building owners or managers to thoroughly assess the energy performance of buildings and consequently determine energy efficiency interventions that will reduce energy consumption, energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. EPCs are considered as drivers of energy efficiency for buildings because they can provide information on the energy performance of buildings and be used as tools to track the energy efficiency of buildings over time.  

Submitting an Energy Performance Certificate to the Building Energy Performance Register

It is expected that the energy consumption assessments for the buildings will be completed by external assessors. Upon completion of the assessment for the building’s energy consumption, the assessor will at no cost submit the EPC to the national Building Energy Performance Register (BEPR) which will be established and managed by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). The BEPR will be utilised to support policy development by government and building owners. Once the submission has been made to SANEDI for inclusion into the BEPR, an EPC will be issued. However, should there be alterations and improvements to the building, a new EPC with the updated energy information will have to be issued. The cost of obtaining an EPC, which will be valid for five years, is estimated to range between R10,000- R20,000. Although the regulations will only apply to government buildings that have a floor area greater than 1,000m2, it is expected that the regulations will be extended to the commercial sector by 2020.

Standard for energy performance in buildings- SANS 1544 

Guidelines on the requirements of an EPC are outlined in the standard SANS 1544- South Africa’s national standard for energy performance in buildings. SANS1544 outlines the requirements for producing EPCs for public buildings that:

  • have been in been in operation for at least 2 years;
  • have not experienced key renovations in the past 2 years in operation;
  • have a net floor area of over 1,000m2. 

This standard is due to be implemented during the course of 2016 and will be mandatory for public buildings and recommended for private sector buildings. 

The implementation of SANS 1544 will assist municipalities with the monitoring of the energy efficiency of public buildings and assessing the efficiency of the implemented energy performance contracts because it outlines the requirements of an EPC. 

Inspection bodies to be SANAS accredited

SANS 1544 also specifies that inspection bodies analysing energy performance data and issuing EPCs for buildings have to be SANAS accredited.  This is to ensure that inspection bodies adhere to the regulations and methods set out by SANS 1544 for the issuing of EPCs and that the EPCs issued are recognised.  SANAS accreditation for inspection bodies involves an 18-month preparation period. 

The national standards for issuing EPCs for buildings are available for purchase from the SABS website.

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Simphiwe Ngwenya