On 18 February 2021, the Admin B building at Stellenbosch University, which houses the vice chancellor and executive team, received the first-ever Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for a building in South Africa, in recognition of its commitment to energy efficiency.
The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) says that the issuing of the first-ever EPC for a building in South Africa recently is a landmark achievement which will encourage energy efficiency widely.
According to the International Energy Agency buildings account for approximately 30% of global energy consumption and 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. These figures could easily grow in Africa – and particularly in South Africa – due to increasing urbanisation.
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) which 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”.
SANEDI, an agency of the DMRE, is 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 a building’s energy performance from A to G, where A is the most energy efficient and G the least, with D being the mid-point, when benchmarked 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).
Barry Bredenkamp, SANEDI’s General Manager for Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications, explains: “Buildings should 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, to be compliant with the regulations.”
“The regulations apply to non-residential buildings (specific occupancy classes) with a net floor area of at least 2000m2 in the private sector, and 1000m2 for buildings owned, operated or occupied by an organ of state”, Bredenkamp says.
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 are currently at the discretion of the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe.
JP Spangenberg from EMVS says that the public should not see this as a punitive expense, but as the responsible thing to do in terms of the country’s commitment to address climate change and sustainability matters.
“EPCs are, in essence, a tool which gives clients a snapshot view of their building’s energy performance, empowering them to make informed decisions relating to energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy integration”, he adds.
Bredenkamp says that being awarded an A-rated EPC so soon after the regulations were gazetted, is a phenomenal achievement for Stellenbosch University. “It should be applauded for this major step forward”, he says.
Nadeem Gafieldien, Stellenbosch University’s Director of Property Services, passionately supports all efforts towards sustainability, saying that Stellenbosch University is committed to the UN SDG’s and a sustainable future. “While this EPC demonstrates this commitment, we are also in the process of certifying many of our buildings, using the Green Building Council’s neighbourhood tool in our efforts towards a net zero carbon future.”
Bluedust Engineering Solutions’ Dr Frank Duvenhage says the award highlights Stellenbosch University’s continued efforts over the past few years to be more energy efficient and to respond earnestly to repeated calls by government to use energy sparingly and to reach their goal of a net-zero carbon future. “Hopefully, this achievement will encourage other building owners to follow suit!”, he says.
According to Bredenkamp, a 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 optimise and reduce energy usage.
“This will involve engineering firms and other energy service companies which will typically be contracted to do these energy efficiency upgrades, thereby creating much-needed job opportunities in the energy sector.”