By when do you need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate for your building?

"Clients are suddenly contacting us to ask about the need to get an Energy Performance Certificate and whether it is mandatory for all building owners and by when they need to have it in place.”

An Energy Performance Certificate (“EPC”) is a certificate that is issued by an accredited body in relation to non-residential buildings. The EPC must be issued in accordance with the South African National Standards and must show the specific building’s energy performance – namely the amount of energy which is consumed per square meter of a building as a result of the operations of the building.

On 8 December 2020 the Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings, 2019 (“the Regulations”) were promulgated under the National Energy Act 34 of 2008 (“the Act”). Initially, in terms of the Regulations either the accounting officer of an organ of state, where the non-residential building is owned, occupied or operated by an organ of state, or the owner of a private non-residential building, had two years from the date of the Regulations coming into effect, to obtain and publicly display a valid EPC at the entrance of that specific building. The requirement to display an EPC is subject to the specific qualifying criteria contained in Regulations 3(1) and 3(2) of the Regulations. 

The qualifying criteria are 1000m2 for public or governmentally owned buildings and 2000m2 for privately owned buildings. It is important to note only non-residential buildings that are used for the purposes of entertainment and public assembly, theatrical and indoor sport, places of instruction and offices are required to obtain and display an EPC. 

In simple terms, this means it is mandatory for privately and publicly owned buildings that fall within the qualifying criteria of Regulation 3 of the Regulations, to obtain and display an EPC, which EPC will be valid for 5 years from the date of issue .

In the event that private or publicly owned non-residential buildings fail to display a valid EPC, it will constitute an offence in terms of the Act, and the accounting officers or owners of the building could be held liable to pay a fine of up to R 5 million, risk being imprisoned for a period of 5 years or both such fine and imprisonment. 

The EPC reflects the energy performance of a building with the evaluation of a building’s energy efficiency rating ascertained by measuring the building’s energy use intensity, and assigning a score from “A” to “G” with “A” being the most energy efficient grading and “G” being the least energy efficient grading.

An EPC is obtained by way of a South African National Accreditation System (“SANAS”) accredited inspection body, which must assess the building and submit the necessary information on behalf of the accounting officers or building owners, to the South African National Energy Development Institute (“SANEDI”). SANEDI will conduct an evaluation and verification of the information and release the EPC to the SANAS-accredited inspection body who will in turn provide the EPC to the accounting officers or building owners. A certified electronic copy of the EPC must also be submitted by the building owner or accounting officer to SANEDI which will be uploaded onto the National Building Energy Performance Register (NBEPR).

The purpose of an EPC is to assist the building owners and accounting officers to identify areas and ways in which they could practice better energy efficiency, which is in line with global best practices and will contribute to the uniqueness of the specific building, and in this way assist in improving the economic sustainability of the building, and help minimise the energy footprint of the building.

The initial cut-off date for accounting officers and building owners to display their EPCs at the entrance of their building was 7 December 2022, or risk facing having to pay the fine, imprisonment or both such fine and imprisonment. 

In a late twist to the tale, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy on 17 November 2022 signed and on 25 November 2022 gazetted the amended Regulations which extended the cut-off date to obtain and display a valid EPC at the entrance of non-residential buildings for a further three years, from the 7th of December 2022 to the 7th of December 2025, giving valuable respite to many business owners that would have been caught off guard by the initial cut-off date of 7 December 2022. 

Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy has been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s). 

January 10, 2023

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