Energy efficiency in buildings, up to recently, has been a matter of choice. Having an energy efficient building is now, however, no longer just the preserve of those wanting to do the right thing – what was a voluntary standard was written into law in Sept 2011 and was implemented and has become applicable as of 11 Nov 2011. These are the new SANS 10400-XA: Energy Usage in Buildings, and SANS 204: Energy Efficiency in buildings. The only exception, as with the other new building regulations, is that where the design work on a project had commenced prior the publishing of the standard, an application may be submitted to the Local Authority within 6 months of the standard’s publication date, requesting that the application be dealt with in accordance with the prior regulations.
Energy is so much a part of life that we often use it without thinking, especially when it’s in the form of electricity. Most electricity in South Africa is produced from burning fossil fuels like coal, gas or oil which produces carbon dioxide. The build-up of carbon dioxide (Co²) in the atmosphere contributes to global warming, or as some refer to as “The Greenhouse Effect”.
Energy efficiency is not only about the energy produced by burning fossil fuels and the like. Sustainable energy efficiency includes making better use of these finite, non-renewable natural resources, like solar energy; and includes incorporating the principles of passive solar design in our buildings.
With new regulations on energy efficient building coming into play in 2011, the imperative requirements for ecologically aware building and design have become more than a moral issue. Worldwide, the issue of energy saving is top-of-mind and in many countries a norm that has been practiced and perfected for some years.
These regulations/standards will stipulate the planning and design of buildings which includes aspects such as orientation, shading, window design, choice of building materials, solar heating, natural cooling and day lighting.
The news that Eskom has decided to increase its electricity tariffs substantially, each year by 25% for the next three years, has been greeted with justified alarm by South Africans in all sectors of society.
In a related development, the South African delegation to the climate change meeting held in Copenhagen, Denmark during December 2009 pledged to reduce our country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 34% over the next ten years, and 42% by 2025.
Regardless of the proposed tariff increases or whether the emissions reduction targets are achieved, the harsh reality remains that South Africa faces energy challenges on several fronts. Until now, we have been one of the most wasteful and inefficient societies on Earth in terms of energy usage. We must start using energy more wisely and efficiently if we are to achieve the sustainable wealth that we all want.
The good news is that South Africa is already taking steps to help our people to improve our energy usage. One such step is the proposal that all new buildings constructed in South Africa must be built in accordance with the National Building Regulation Part XA and supported by SANS 10400 Part XA, Energy Efficiency in Buildings.
The regulations specify what has to be done to design minimum requirements that will satisfy the energy efficiency in buildings. These regulations are supported by SANS 10400 Part XA. The South Africa’s national standards provides the how to satisfy the regulations to ensure compliance with the minimum requirements, in a format called the deemed to satisfy requirements. All the regulations covered by the National Building Regulations follow the same format.
Much standardisation work has already been done around individual energy-saving devices such as energy-efficient light bulbs and solar water heaters. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the National Building Regulation Part XA and supported by SANS 10400 Part XA incorporates these existing standards into a holistic overview of the entire construction process, which then serves as a single reference document to help architects, building construction companies and other stakeholders to ensure that their buildings comply with energy efficiency requirements as described in the standard.
SANS 10400 Part XA, through relevant requirements of SANS 204 also address’s other energy efficiency factors (described in further detail in the publication) such as:
- The orientation of the building, with well-used areas facing north to make best use of natural sunlight and warmth
- Suitable roof overhangs to keep out the high summer sun but let in the winter sun, when the sun is lower in the sky.
- Sensible fenestration (windows) to let in light and sun, but not so much that natural warmth or coolness cannot be retained
- The use of appropriate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning installations where required, and
- Solar water heaters become mandatory with new buildings being erected.
SANS 204 specifies the design requirements for energy efficiency in buildings and of services in buildings with natural environmental control and artificial ventilation or air conditioning systems.
This section of the standard deals with the following:
- Site orientation
- Building orientation
- Building design (which includes; general, floors, External walls, Fenestration, shading, roof assemblies and roof lights.)
- Building sealing (which includes; Building envelope, Air infiltration and leakage, and permissible air leakage.)
- Services (which includes; Lighting and power, Hot water services, and appliances.)
- Mechanical ventilation and Air Conditioning (which includes: General, Air side system design criteria – Distribution System, Air Side System Design Criteria – Fan System, Water Side System – Design Criteria, Pipe and Duct Distribution System Insulation, Cooling and Heating Equipment, Air-Conditioning Controls, Air and Water Economizers, and Unitary and packaged Equipment.
- Installed Equipment
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