A great opportunity lies ahead for individuals and businesses in the energy sector, thanks to new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations which were gazetted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in December 2020. Young professionals and graduates in the engineering disciplines with the mindset to be a part of the energy efficiency solution are sure to benefit here. This is the view of Ms Vash Singh, MD of Alliance Energy, who recently shared her journey of becoming the 2nd SANAS-accredited Inspection Body, and first black women-owned one, to issue Energy Performance Certificates in the country.
In alignment with the new EPC regulations, buildings in South Africa need to have their energy performance assessed by an accredited party, who will then issue an EPC which rates the building from A – G in terms of energy efficiency. “When these regulations were gazetted, there was just one accredited party in the country. Having attended the launch of EPCs a few years back, I awaited the passing of these regulations to take advantage of what is sure to become a thriving industry. I worked with SANAS in a previous business venture, and was enthusiastic to undertake the accreditation process to equip Alliance Energy in meeting the upcoming demand for EPCs,” says Singh.
The new regulations apply to non-residential buildings with a net floor area of at least 2000 m2 in the private sector (schools, offices, theatres, etc.), and 1000 m2 for government buildings. Their EPC must be displayed at the building entrance, preferably targeting at least a D-rating. Property owners and government buildings have until 7 December 2022 to ensure that they are compliant. “This means there are thousands of property owners who will need appropriately accredited Inspection Bodies to undertake their energy assessment and issue the certificate, (EPC). Here lies a wealth of opportunity for people wishing to get into the energy sector,” says Singh.
Achieving and maintaining the SANAS accreditation can be challenging but it is key for the accurate and independent collection of energy consumption, net floor area, climatic zone, occupancy, and other data, using calibrated instrumentation, in line with national standards.
Fostering energy entrepreneurship
“I have worked in various industries throughout my career and have found my passion in the energy sector. It is a dynamic field with increasing international focus, and there are numerous opportunities. However, I believe it is important that those of us who are established in the industry must go the extra mile to empower and encourage emerging enterprises, especially youth- and woman-owned entities. We are likely to face a shortage of skilled individuals during the implementation of the EPC process, so we must welcome and nurture people into the broader energy sector,” explains Singh.
“South Africa offers a tough business landscape, but we can offer a helping hand to start-ups, by sharing our knowledge and experience. There is enough business to go around – we must collaborate, rather than compete, to collectively ensure the success of the industry and meet the upcoming demand for EPCs.” She has offered to mentor qualified and passionate black women-owned companies aspiring to a similar venture.
She adds that not everyone entering the Energy Performance Certificate business needs to have a background in engineering. There are many support roles available, and opportunities for data scientists, architects, quantity surveyors and others to become involved. While SANAS does require an accredited body to have certain positions with specific qualifications, the wider value chain offers many job opportunities.
“Fostering new talent in the energy sector is sure to assist South Africa in reaching its climate change mitigation ambitions. Facilitating the improved energy performance of our buildings is a worthy career with ample business opportunities – our upcoming professionals and entrepreneurs have fulfilling prospects to look forward to in the EPC industry,” concludes Singh.