Energy efficiency regulations for new buildings

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From the 9th of November 2011 it has become compulsory for all new buildings, and extensions to buildings, including homes, schools, shops, offices, places of worship and hotels, in South Africa to meet a set of standard energy efficiency regulations.  These regulations, included as an amendment to the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, will require building companies, local authorities, property owners, suppliers and architects to comply with the regulations so that energy that is used by buildings is reduced.

At present the act only applies to new buildings and extensions to buildings, however regulations for existing buildings could be added in the future. Building plans cannot be passed unless they meet the standards prescribed in the regulations.

The regulations focus on two major elements:

  1. Hot Water: The regulations require that new buildings have to be built so that 50% (volume fraction) of the annual heating requirements of a building are provided by sources other than electrical resistance heating. Solar heating, heat pumps and other renewable sources of energy are all possible methods of meeting these heating requirements.
  2. Energy efficient design: The regulations address the design elements of a building including orientation of the building, use of natural light, and insulation so that buildings are kept cool in summer and warm in winter naturally through design. This ensures that less energy will be consumed for heating and cooling purposes.

The new SANS 10400-XA Energy Usage in Buildings and SANS 204 Energy Efficiency in Buildings standards address the finer details of how to comply with the legislation.

Potential Impacts of these regulations

Building costs may increase as a result of  the new energy efficiency regulations. However,  owners of buildings will experience long term energy savings resulting in a lower life cycle cost for the building.

Energy used by the building sector can account for up to 40% of the total energy used in the world and this amendment is the first of many amendments that will fit under the environmental sustainability section of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act in an effort to decrease the impact of the building sector on the environment.  Future amendments include sections on water usage, materials and recycling.

Amanda Botes