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High electricity demand sparks surge to reduce carbon footprint of buildings and gain Energy Performance Certificates

The iconic Portside building in Cape Town skyline has become the first, largest and tallest building to receive an Energy Performance Certificate. Picture: Supplied

The iconic Portside building in Cape Town skyline has become the first, largest and tallest building to receive an Energy Performance Certificate. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 23, 2022

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Cape Town - The South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) is encouraging building owners to comply with the new building energy performance regulations in the face of high electricity demand.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) gazetted regulations for the mandatory display and submission of Energy Performance Certificates for buildings, two years ago.

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As an agency of the department, Sanedi had been tasked with maintaining a national building EPC register in accordance with these regulations. Building owners have until December 7 to comply with the regulations.

UWC’s Earth Science senior lecturer Dr Sumaya Clarke said given the importance of Earth Day, citizens need to make an effort to reduce the impacts of human activities. One way is by reducing the carbon footprint of buildings.

“We need to preserve our planet for the future generation. Hence keeping it safe and clean is important. We need to move towards the reuse of materials or the use of more natural resources such as soil, stones, and wood/timber to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings.

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“Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to long term temperature increases in the atmosphere, in other words global warming. Hence, the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings by improving their energy performance is key to meeting the goals that have been set for the country in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Clarke said.

Clarke said building owners needed to take the regulation seriously as it would raise awareness regarding the current levels of emissions and potential impacts on the environment.

“We run the risk of building owners not knowing what their greenhouse gas emissions are, and possibly increasing their impacts on global climate change.

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“So in my opinion, the compliance of EPC will raise awareness regarding the current levels of emissions and potential impacts on the environment. It will give building owners an opportunity to reduce their GHG emissions while reducing their carbon footprint and as a result, reducing their carbon footprint will aid in reducing the impact on global temperature increases that seems to continue,” Clarke said.

Teslim Yusuf who is the Project Manager for Data, Knowledge Management and Smart Grids at Sanedi said South Africa has 24 buildings that have obtained EPCs as of March. A rough estimation was that at least 300 000 buildings should obtain EPCs by December.

“As buildings hold a 16% potential in GHG emissions reduction, the EPC will indicate how energy efficient that building is and this is important as this is one of the government's many initiatives to reduce the country’s energy consumption and GHG emissions through measuring the energy performance of buildings.

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“Once building owners have an EPC, they will be able to track their buildings’ energy performance, which will enable them to implement energy efficiency interventions which in turn will give them a Return on Investment by paying less for their electricity bills,” Yusuf said.

Sanedi general manager for energy efficiency, Barry Bredenkamp, said that compliance with EPC regulations would enable building owners to save money and possibly increase the value of their buildings.

“An energy-efficient building is generally a better environment in which to work and is significantly less expensive to run, so an owner can potentially justify a higher price if they want to sell or impose a higher rental for office space.

“The more energy-efficient buildings become, the more they will contribute to taking electricity demand off the national grid. This could help ease load shedding, and by reducing carbon emissions, building owners will be helping our country meet its international obligations to combat climate change,” Bredenkamp said.

While experts believe that buildings are responsible for between 30% to 40% of carbon emissions worldwide, Portside building in the Cape Town skyline took the initiative to receive an EPC.

Portside representative Frank Duvenhage said building owners should see this as a step in the right direction as they would be able to reap the benefits of reduced costs.

Weekend Argus

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