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Time is ticking for property owners to obtain and display EPCs for buildings that require certification.

  • Time is running out for property owners of occupancy classes specified in the EPC regulations to obtain and prominently display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or risk a fine of up to R5 million, up to five years imprisonment or both.
  • Property owners who have paused or not yet started the certification process should get going. They have two critical deadlines to meet, one of which is only a few months away.
  • Before the 3rd of August 2024, accounting officers and building owners must register the occupancy class and size of all their buildings on the National Building Energy Performance Register (NBEPR).
  • Before the 7th of December 2025, building owners must publicly display and submit an EPC for their buildings that meet the requirements for certification.

The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEPs) latest Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction indicates that the building and construction sector contributes significantly to global climate change, accounting for about 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  In 2022, buildings accounted for 34% of global energy demand and 37% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide. While this indicates that the built environment is a major contributor to the climate change problem, it also implies that it can and must be a key part of the solution.

Globally, policymakers recognise the need to collaborate with specialists in the built environment ecosystem to improve the energy efficiency of non-residential properties and meet net-zero carbon targets. In the European Union (EU), Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) have become a core policy tool for driving energy performance and efficiency in the building sector since the early 2000s.

South Africa has also embraced EPCs as part of our country’s energy efficiency efforts. On the 8th of December 2020, it became mandatory for accounting officers and building owners to display and submit an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for their buildings. Failure to publicly display the EPC contravenes the National Energy Act (Act No. 34 of 2008). Once issued, a building owner must renew the EPC every five years; this period allows building owners to improve their buildings’ energy performance. 

For 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). The EPC regulations apply to buildings with a net floor area of greater than 2000 m2 in the private sector and greater than 1000 m2 in the public sector.

The following occupancy classes require an EPC by 7 December 2025:

  • A1: Entertainment venues or places of public assembly.
  • A2: Theatrical or indoor sports venues.
  • A3: Places of instruction (including schools, colleges, and universities).
  • G1: Offices.

Time is ticking for EPC compliance.

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 South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI, www.sanedi.org.za)

is the custodian of the NBEPR.

  • By 7 December 2025, all building owners must have their buildings certified, i.e., prominently display and submit an EPC for their buildings to SANEDI, where it will be uploaded to the NBEPR.

In the FAQ section of their website, SANEDI estimates that the total EPC market is between 250 000 and 350 000 buildings for the occupancy classes currently included in the regulations.  At the time of going to print, a SANEDI dashboard indicated that 3 631 buildings have been registered to date, with a mere 2 448 EPC’s issued.

An EPC is issued by a National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited inspection body. From 1 August 2024, it can also be issued by a “registered professional”.

The business case for EPC compliance.

While many property owners view an EPC as a matter of compliance and a grudge purchase, a building certification offers much more than its original purpose. “With only six years left to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development objectives, implementing sustainable and efficient energy solutions has never been more critical. An EPC is more than just a certificate; an EPC can be a catalyst for change, and every kilowatt-hour saved and every drop conserved count towards realising sustainability targets,” says Frikkie Malan, Chief Commercial Officer at RMS.

The energy mix, or 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. 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,” says Malan.

EPC certification has become a vital decision-making tool, especially if the business owns a portfolio of buildings. Most listed funds use the data from an EPC programme to make better-informed choices along their journey towards net zero. “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,” he adds.

As a leading SANAS-accredited EPC inspection body, RMS has certified over 800 buildings since 2020. This includes certificates for various listed property funds, private property owners, universities, and schools.