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Energy Performance Certificates

Alex Varughese, Modelling and Simulations Consultant at Solid Green, recently attended a GBCSA webinar on Energy Performance Certificates. Here, he shares his insights on the EPC process and what it means for the South African market.


As published in the Government Gazette on 8 December 2020, Energy Performance Certificates are now mandatory for private sector, non-residential buildings with a total net floor area of over 2000sqm, and government buildings of over 1000sqm. The certificates must be displayed at the building’s main entrance; and must be submitted to the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). With the law now in effect, building owners are required to obtain an EPC within two years.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

A building’s energy performance refers to the net energy consumed in kilowatt hours per square meter per annum (kWh/m2/year). An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) accounts for all major energy consuming systems including heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and lighting; and, once obtained, is valid for a period of 5 years.

An EPC is required for:

  • All commercial and non-residential buildings (e.g. schools, shopping malls, theatres) greater than 2000sqm;
  • Government buildings larger than 1000sqm.

The above-mentioned buildings will be assessed on data that is compiled over a 2-year period. This data would come from recorded data that can, for example, be gathered through energy sub-metering systems; energy bills or measurements. Energy from garages, car parks, storage areas and outdoor services (such as security, landscaping and lighting) can be excluded from the EPC provided that this energy does not exceed 10% of the total energy performance of the building.

What is the purpose of an EPC?

EPC’s will be available publicly and will give greater knowledge to buyers about the historical consumption of a building. Similar EPC’s have been in effect in Europe and the UK since 2007, where they are required when selling a property.

The main purpose of an EPC is to monitor systems and gather data to inform the management of buildings and decisions around consumption and occupant behaviour moving forward – thus giving a road map on where consumption can be improved. In South Africa, over 77% of our electricity is produced by coal. Pair that with our current load shedding situation, and a knowledge of our buildings’ energy usage has become even more important.

In addition, the SANS 10400XA regulation is heading towards an imminent update. The increase in energy demands and regulations will now force building owners, project teams and tenants to be more aware during all processes of a building. The EPC may be a time-consuming exercise to achieve but, over the long run, it will help building owners and users to understand their usage.

EPCs will also be used when properties are sold. As EPCs can be viewed by anyone looking to buy property, the energy usage of different properties can be easily compared, allowing for a greater knowledge of operational costs to be estimated before purchase and rental agreements are signed.

Impact on the South African market

Gathering sufficient data over a period of time will also have the effect of allowing the energy performance of buildings in this country to be compared to how buildings perform internationally. Improvements in energy efficiency systems can be made with the knowledge gained during this process, eventually driving the further development of standards in this sector.

Over time, buildings will be marketed and sold as truly accredited and recognizable buildings. This doesn’t only apply to new buildings but also to existing buildings, which should be able to achieve a higher market value through improved energy performance, even though the building itself may be decades old.

I believe that EPCs represent an important opportunity for market change. With energy assessments and performance certificates we can shift owner and tenant mindsets around energy use, ultimately helping to decrease our dependence on fossil-based fuels in this sector.

Additional resources:

  1. https://www.greenbuildingafrica.co.za/building-energy-performance-reporting-now-mandatory-in-south-africa/
  2. https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202012/43972gon700.pdf

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