National Green building regulations

South Africa’s building industry faces significant challenges in reducing its environmental footprint and shaping a more sustainable built environment. Building and construction are responsible for a considerable share of the harmful carbon emissions that drive climate change – highlighting the importance of effective policies and regulations to drive energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable building design in South Africa.


South Africa’s National Building Regulations (NBR) were amended in 2011 to include the first chapter on environmental sustainability:

  • SANS 10400 XA.
    Since most carbon emissions in the built environment come from energy use, the amendments emphasise energy-efficiency requirements for buildings (Part XA), with plans to incorporate water efficiency in the future (part XB).

Part XA structure

XA1 This addresses the energy associated with:

  • The design of the building’s envelope
    (facade, shading orientation, geographical location)
  • Services
    (ventilation, air conditioning, lighting)
  • Vertical transport

The aim of the regulations is to achieve energy efficiency in the design of buildings while maintaining the thermal comfort for building occupants.

XA2 This addresses the building’s hot water heating requirement with the provision that at least 50% of the hot water volume is provided by means other than electrical resistive heating (e.g., solar-heating heat pumps, heat recovery or renewable combustible fuel).
XA3 This addresses the three routes available to demonstrate compliance with the Part XA requirements.

Which buildings are affected?

Buildings that consume energy as a result of human occupancy are the main target of Part XA regulations. This means industrial buildings and warehouses, among a few other building types, are not included in the Part XA requirements.

You can find out more about the specific building types to which the regulations apply here.


What about existing buildings and alterations to existing buildings?

All new buildings to which Part XA applies must comply with the regulations, as must any additions and extensions to existing buildings that require planning approval from the local authority.


What is the role of the Building Control Officer (BCO)?

The role of the BCO is to verify information presented for building plan approval against the requirements of the building regulations. During a site inspection, the BCO must check that any inputs submitted align with the design documents and the final construction.

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