Buildings will have to be more energy efficient to meet environmental regulations :
The new regulations for the building sector are making new houses more energy efficient and could have save some homeowners a small fortune in heating and cooling bills.
SANS 10400-XA, known as the environmental sustainability regulations, came into force in November.
Pretoria-based architect James Hamilton said the regulations were slowly changing the construction landscape. He said the changes were a way to play catch-up with European standards, which had been evolving since the 1970s.
“In South Africa, we have always been really silly when it comes to building houses. We think it’s always summer and build these huge open plan houses that are perfect for watching rugby and having a braai, but we suffer in winter and put on all the heaters.”
Simple things such as double glazed windows and proper insulation have been ignored. This means people cannot control the temperatures of their houses he said.
The houses on Waterkloof Estates are built according to the new rules. They are no longer on an east-west axis and the lounges and living rooms, which have big windows and glass doors, are on the northern side. Solar geysers and black piping on each roof heat water – the regulations say half of all water heating needs to happen in the house.
“People could save two-thirds of their electricity bill with all these changes” said Hamilton.
To ease the pain of the greater start-up costs, the National Energy Act has been adapted so that new homeowners receive credits on tax returns. If a house meets energy-efficient requirements, the owner can obtain a certificate from the National Energy Development Institute, which then goes to the receiver of revenue.
Although the regulations did not apply to old houses, there was a grey area in terms of upgrades and extensions, he said. But because most people did changes informally and without planning permission, it was hard to police that.
Sipho Kings McDermott
Mail & Guardian March 23 to 29 2012
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