EPCs: Participants in the Race To Zero

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By Rujeanne Swanepoel, Inspection Body Quality Manager at Remote Metering Solutions

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from business, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, und unlocks inclusive sustainable growth (https://unfccc.int/climate-action/race-to-zero-campaign).

Accounting for 40% of global energy consumption and 33% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) (World Economic Forum, 22 Feb 2021), reducing the carbon emissions associated with buildings is a key part of the decarbonization challenge.

South Africa is no exception, and the carbon emissions of our local building stuck MUST if South Africa is to achieve its goal of aligning the country  to a 2-degree scenario. The importance of this goal is evidenced by the proposed Post-2015 National Energy Efficiency Strategy (NEES) which requires that state-owned buildings reduce specific energy consumption by 50%, and commercial buildings by 37%, by 2030. (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. 2016 Post-2015 National Energy Efficiency Strategy [Draft].

An insight into the baseline energy efficiency (kWh/m2) of buildings is the starting point to achieving required improvements to building energy efficiency and EPCs will assist in this understanding. 

EPCs are an internationally recognised tool to assess and benchmark the energy efficiency of buildings. In most countries EPCs play an important role in providing the ability to map the building stock energy efficiency at a national scale; to monitor the impact of building policies and to support the introduction of new minimum energy efficiency requirements within the regulatory process, and to help enable carbon reporting and target setting in relation to the building sector.

EPCs instigate change by driving measurement and profiling of buildings, which can then prompt improvements, resulting in reduced electricity consumption by buildings, improved energy security and reduced national carbon emissions.

The overall objective of EPCs is to create a comprehensive national register with accurate and reliable building data, to support government initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency monitoring, GHG emissions obligations, carbon tax, etc.

Introducing EPCs allows for improved ability to identify and implement energy efficiency  interventions in buildings at a national scale. Ultimately, EPCs should unlock a wider energy efficiency value chain , as building owners look at implementing more efficient systems and work towards compliance and/ or an improvement in a building’s EPC rating, whether they are looking at HVAC, lighting, water heating, energy monitoring, sensors or improved appliances and equipment. ,

Climate change is already a measurable reality and along with other developing countries, South Africa is especially vulnerable to its impacts. South Africa is the world’s 14th largest emitter of greenhouse gases principally due to a heavy reliance on coal as our primary source of energy (Carbon Brief, 2018). The National Climate Change Response White Paper is a comprehensive plan to address both mitigation and adaptation in the short, medium and long term (up to 2050). South Africa’s response to climate change has two objectives:

  • Effectively manage inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity.
  • Make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

South African government has pledged to peak the country’s greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2025 at respectively 34% and 42% below a business-as-usual trajectory, before remaining on a plateau for approximately a decade and then declining in absolute terms thereafter (UNFCCC, 2011).

Energy Efficiency and Energy and Demand Management flagship programmes are highlighted as a key component of the National Climate Change Response (National Climate Change Response White Paper). A structured programme will be established with appropriate initiatives, incentives and regulation, along with a well-resourced information collection and dissemination process.

Furthermore, during SONA 2021 the president announced the inaugural Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission (PCC). The commission is tasked with advising on South Africa’s climate change response and includes mitigation and adaptation to climate change and its associated impacts. It will , in addition, provide independent monitoring and review of South Africa’s progress in meeting its emissions reduction and adaptation goals.

“The more energy efficient buildings become, the more they will contribute to taking electricity demand off the national grid. This could help to ease load shedding, and by reducing carbon emissions, building owners will be helping our country to meets its international obligations to combat climate change.” (Barry Bredenkamp, SANEDI, Businesstech, December 2021).

RMS is a SANAS accredited EPC inspection body – we are helping our clients achieve compliance with the EPC regulations by ensuring that those buildings in their portfolio’s that need EPCs are certified by the December 2022 deadline.