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Deadlines loom for commercial building energy performance certificates

Deadlines loom for commercial building energy performance certificates
Commercial office buildings in the the Johannesburg Central Business District. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

Once an energy performance certificate is issued, a building owner has to renew it every five years – on the assumption that they will improve the building’s energy performance in this time.

Although it became compulsory in 2020 for accounting officers and building owners to display and submit an energy performance certificate (EPC), statistics show that a large majority have failed to do so. 

An energy performance certificate shows how much energy is being used to operate a building. 

In July last year, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy amended regulations and now building owners have until 24 July this year to register the type and size of their buildings on the National Building Energy Performance Register.

The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) estimates that the total EPC market is between 250,000 and 350,000 buildings for the occupancy classes presently included in the regulations.

However, a Sanedi dashboard indicates that 3,631 buildings have been registered to date, with a mere 2,452 EPCs issued.

Time is running out for building owners to declare their power usage. 

To comply, building owners have two critical deadlines to meet, one of which is only a few months away.

By 3 August 2024, accounting officers and building owners must register their buildings on the National Building Energy Performance Register (NBEPR).

The cut-off for all building owners to have their buildings certified — to prominently display and submit an EPC for their buildings to Sanedi, where it will be uploaded to the NBEPR — is 7 December 2025.

According to the International Trade Administration, developers of a sample of 50 certified buildings in South Africa estimate that their buildings will result in annual savings of 76 million kilowatt hours, or the amount of electricity that 5,300 households would use in a year.

The impact estimates also placed annual carbon emission savings at 115 million kilograms, equal to 28,000 fewer cars on the road, and a saving of 124 million litres of water a year.

Why businesses need an EPC

While many property owners view an EPC as a grudge purchase for compliance purposes, Frikkie Malan, chief commercial officer at Remote Metering Solutions, says there is ultimately value to be realised.  

To get an EPC, the energy mix – all energy consumed in a building – must be assessed and considered to determine its energy performance rating. 

These energy sources include all forms of electricity, whether from the national grid or a solar PV plant, fuel consumed by on-site backup generators, gas or solid fuel like coal used in the building.

“Assessing and improving the EPC ratings of your properties and cutting your energy bills are intricately connected – if you do one, the other will most likely follow,” says Malan. 

“While an initial investment may be required to improve the energy efficiency of your buildings, there are definite savings and other financial incentives that will benefit you eventually. 

“For instance, when selling a building with poor energy performance, as expressed on the EPC, it could be more challenging than selling a building with a high rating, which will fetch a better price.”

Once an EPC is issued, a building owner has to renew it every five years – on the assumption that they will improve the building’s energy performance during this time.

“Since an EPC is a benchmark of a building’s energy performance based on a national standard, the fact that a property is certified can contribute to an improved ESG rating.

“A property owner can also use the data for climate disclosure and integrated reporting, and our broad range of experience has helped us understand how to help property owners obtain their certifications and maximise the value of an EPC,” Malan adds.  

The EPC regulations apply to buildings with a net floor area of greater than 2,000m2 in the private sector and greater than 1,000m2 in the public sector.

The world’s leading green building certification bodies – the UK-based Building Research Establishment, the US Green Building Council, and the Green Building Council of Australia – have formed an alliance to create global cohesion in green building standards.

Lisa Reynolds, chief executive of the Green Building Council of SA, says South Africa will also partner with the alliance, with the aim of creating robust, reliable, green certification tools. DM

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