The regulations for the mandatory display of building Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in South Africa are expected to promote energy efficiency awareness and the improvement of building energy performance.

Frikkie Malan, head of the sustainability services and projects team at Remote Metering Solutions, explains that an EPC is a certificate that shows the energy performance of a building as a rating from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G the least efficient rating.

Property owners who fail to obtain and display an EPC (and submit the EPC to SANEDI) before the December 2022 deadline will be in contravention of the National Energy Act.

Contraventions of the Act can be penalised with up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to R5-million, or both.

Understanding the occupancy classes

Malan says that buildings in the following occupancy classes must have an EPC by the December 2022 deadline:

* Occupancy Class A1 – Entertainment and public assembly: Occupancy where people gather to eat, drink, dance, or participate in other recreation. Typical examples include restaurants, night-clubs, sports pubs, gyms, and so on.

* Occupancy Class A2 – Theatrical and indoor sport: This is an occupancy where people gather for the viewing of theatrical, operatic, orchestral, choral, cinematographical, or sport performances. Some examples include movie theatres and live theatres.

* Occupancy Class A3 – Places of instruction: As the name suggests, these are where school children assemble for the purpose of tuition or learning. It also includes occupancy other than primary or secondary schools where students or other persons assemble for the purpose of tuition or learning. This would therefore include schools, colleges, universities, and Technikons.

* Occupancy Class G1 – Offices: Large multi-storey office buildings, banks, consulting rooms, and similar buildings that feature lifts and energy consuming services that operate on a typical daytime occupancy. This includes stand-alone blocks or a campus of buildings that form an office park but operate separately.

“Privately owned buildings with a net floor area greater than 2 000m2 that belong to the occupancy classes listed above must obtain an EPC. Buildings owned, operated, or occupied by an organ of state has a minimum net floor area threshold of 1 000m2,” he says.

The exceptions

An exception to this is an office space (occupancy class G1) that forms part of a mixed occupancy building, for example an industrial property with an office component. The building must be evaluated against the following criteria:

* Is the occupancy class of the building that needs an EPC greater than the minimum size threshold (e.g., 2 000m2 for privately owned buildings)?

* Is this occupancy class distinct, in other words can a clear boundary be drawn around it?

* Does this occupancy class consume more than 10% of the total building’s energy consumption?

If the answer to all three these questions is yes, then that portion of the building would need to be certified.

Calculating the energy performance of a building

Determining the energy performance of a building requires crucial information and data, including:

* Year of assessment (YoA) – this is a 12-month period – specified by the property owner – for which a building’s energy performance is determined;

* As-built (to scale) floor plans – the plans are used to determine the net floor area of a building;

* Municipal bills – for the YoA provide grid electricity consumption data;

* Bulk check meter consumption data – for the YoA provides grid electricity consumption data;

* Solar PV meter data – for the YoA provides solar PV consumption data;

* Diesel invoices – for the YoA provide information on the amount of diesel used and the energy value thereof.