Evaluating energy efficiency in building control regulations in local authorities in South Africa

Wafula, Joachim E
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More than one-third of energy is used in buildings worldwide, accounting for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In cities, buildings can account for up to 80 percent of CO2 emissions. The built environment is therefore a critical part of the climate change problem and conversely, a solution. Additionally, most existing buildings were not designed for energy efficiency. In South Africa, buildings account for 27% of electricity use and 12% of the final energy use. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is very important to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lowering energy costs and ensuring energy security. The South African developmental Local Government paradigm makes local authorities the focal points of implementing the various regulations, standards and codes for energy efficiency in buildings set by the national and provincial governments. The Local authorities are mandated by statute to make by-laws to supplement the national building regulations for the effective operation of the building control function. The use of Energy Efficiency regulations is a very effective strategy of achieving energy consumption reduction in buildings. Four generations of energy efficiency codes and standards for buildings in the US have produced estimated energy efficiency improvements of about 60% over 30 years. The Energy Efficiency Strategy of South Africa calls for a mandatory regulatory regime, integrated into the National Building Regulations so that local authorities can implement it through their building control regulations. This research evaluated energy efficiency measures implemented through the building control regulations in the key metropolises of greater Johannesburg. Significantly, it investigated the formulation and implementation of Energy Efficiency Building Standards/Codes through the building control regulations to achieve energy efficiency in building developments under municipal jurisdictions. The study is based on a mixed methods research approach consisting of documentary review, structured questionnaires and semi-structured field interviews. The analysis was based on the key themes of investigation; the importance and awareness of energy efficiency measures in buildings, implementable energy efficiency measures through the building control regulations and the integration of energy efficiency building standards/codes in the National Building Regulations. The key finding is that the lack of a definitive legal requirement of energy efficiency measures in the national building regulations impedes the formulation and implementation of an effective energy efficiency programme through the building control mechanisms in local authorities. The main recommendation is that the proposed energy efficiency building standards/codes should be operationalized as soon as possible to provide a legal framework for the energy efficiency programmes in buildings through the building control processes, provide a foundation for the development of market transformation measures which complement the regulations and set the stage for the implementation of next generation energy efficiency measures like Zero energy buildings.