In line with the directives of the National Energy Act, the task of marshalling an abundance of data about energy demand, supply, and production falls onto the lap of the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. This prodigious task is annual, as every year the Minister must present a comprehensive assessment of energy demand and supply from the previous year while simultaneously prophesying what future needs might be.

The rather interesting Section 3 of the National Energy Act equips the Minister with an intriguing power: the ability to requisition this critical energy data from anyone, especially if such data has not been previously bestowed upon another public institution.

Just recently, the Minister introduced a new rule to the game, setting a ripple of anxiety through the private building owners' community. As per these freshly minted regulations, owners will soon be compelled to publicly exhibit and submit an energy performance certificate. Failure to do so could very well invite a rather steep fine of R 5 million, imprisonment, or an even less appealing combination of the two.

However, there is a silver lining of sorts for the private building owners. The new regulations aren't a blanket directive – they target a specific subset of buildings. As such, the energy performance certificate becomes a mandatory requirement only for a select group of private non-residential buildings. This category includes structures that the National Building Regulations and Building Standard Act deem as offices, places of entertainment, theatres, indoor sports facilities, or private educational facilities. The crucial catch? These buildings must have a "net floor area" exceeding 2000 square meters.

The phrasing of the regulations leaves much room for interpretation and potential contention. The term "net floor area," for instance, lacks a clear definition. Neither do the regulations address the situation of a single building having multiple distinct sections. This ambiguity could sow the seeds for future disagreements and question the utility of such a broad-based requirement. More importantly, it puts a question mark on the effectiveness of the certification in enabling the Minister to collect accurate data.

Landlords would do well to err on the side of caution. An audit of their building classification is highly recommended, and if necessary, the acquisition, display, and submission of their energy performance certificates should be executed in a timely manner.

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