GBCSA urges building owners to know and show their energy performance
By next December, some non-residential buildings will be required by law to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which demonstrates the efficiency or inefficiency of a building. This is done by measuring the building’s energy-use intensity and giving it a colour-coded score from A-G, like the energy rating you would find on appliances.
In the same way that drivers check the fuel consumption of a car before renting or buying it, knowing the energy performance of a building empowers potential buyers or tenants to make a more informed decision.
It is hoped that this will be a great boost for energy efficiency in South Africa, since the first step toward lowering energy consumption is knowing energy consumption. The new regulation requires that energy data is collected over the period of a year, to get an adequate measure of the building’s energy use. Thus, building owners will see how their buildings compare against the SANS 10400-XA benchmark energy usage intensity value.
Once information on a building’s energy performance is publicly displayed, it will be much harder to justify operating an inefficient building. Buyers and tenants do not desire to move into a building that will be more expensive to run and will be a drain on the planet’s resources.
EPCs in South Africa
To obtain an EPC, a building owner will need to gather some of the building information – the electricity consumption data for a year, the net floor area, information on the areas excluded, vacancy rates – and contract a South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited inspection body (IB) to audit the information. The IB submits the energy performance value to the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), which inputs it into the National Building Energy Performance Register. A unique number for the EPC is generated and sent to the SANAS accredited IB, who then issues the EPC to the client for display.
The National Building Energy Performance Register will assist with future benchmarking of building energy consumption and track progress toward achievement of the targets set out in future EPC regulations.
Before joining the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), CEO Lisa Reynolds played an important role in the development of SANS 1544, the South African National Standard, which governs EPCs. “The old adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is the basis for the EPC Regulations. The energy usage of the South African existing building stock is unknown. How do we improve on an unknown? By measuring it – and ultimately improving on it,” says Reynolds.
The Stellenbosch University Admin B building is the first in South Africa to achieve an EPC. The building received an A-rating for electrical consumption of 48kWh per square metre per year. The University has been collecting data for several years and the data verification was completed by Bluedust Engineering Solutions. This information was handed to Mess Energy Management and Validation Service, which is accredited by SANEDI to issue EPCs.
The challenge is now on to see which building in South Africa will be the next to get its Energy Performance Certificate.
The GBCSA is providing training workshops on EPCs in two parts/sessions. The first one is for building owners, facilities managers and consultants interested in understanding more about the EPC process and the second session must also be attended for those wishing to become SANAS accredited inspection bodies. Click here for more information.
Towards Net Zero
Understanding the energy performance of a building is a vital first step on the journey to a net-zero carbon building, which is the ultimate goal for the GBCSA. From knowing the energy usage intensity of a building; leading to the energy efficiency retrofitting of that building and ultimately the retrofitting into a net-zero carbon building.
The GBCSA strongly advocates for net-zero carbon buildings. These are very highly energy-efficient buildings, with the remainder of the power required for the operation of the building provided by renewable energy sources.
The motivation for net-zero carbon buildings is driven by South Africa’s National (National Development Plan goals) and local climate change commitments, which include the C40 Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration. Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and eThekwini are C40 cities and signatories to the 2018 declaration, alongside 24 other global cities. These cities have committed to developing regulations and/or planning policy to ensure new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030 and all buildings reach net-zero carbon status by 2050.View more
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Green New Deal can stimulate economic recovery and create jobs
While lock-down inadvertently helped to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it is critically important that the sustainability of the environment is at the heart of post-Covid-19 recovery efforts.
This is according to the South African National Energy Development Institute, (SANEDI).
“This is where the much-talked-about Green New Deal (GND) becomes crucial and while it’s no panacea to economic challenges, harnessing its benefits can help grow the economy and create jobs in a post-Covid-19 world,” says Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager Energy Efficiency and Corporate Communications at SANEDI.
The GND is a major globally-led government programme aimed at shaping socially and economically just, green and renewable energy-powered economies, with societies supporting human rights, while addressing poverty and inequality. There have been forecasts by unions, like the Congress of South African Trade Unions, for example, supportive of the idea that it could make a difference, creating at least 300 000 jobs – yet this has not happened. But post the pandemic, it provides an ideal platform to help stimulate the economy.
SANEDI is not alone in proposing such steps and is proud to endorse a call by what is being hailed as the largest ever UN-backed CEO-led climate advocacy effort in which 155 multinationals have reaffirmed a science-based commitment to achieving a zero carbon economy and urging governments to match their ambition to “prioritize a faster and fairer transition from a grey to a green economy”.
As South Africa eases towards a return to business, recovery must be premised on ensuring that the environment is key to a sustainable future. “Rebuilding initiatives premised on ensuring that the environment is key to a better future, can assist in addressing the effects of Covid-19, along with tackling poverty and job creation through a number of initiatives,” says Bredenkamp.
To this end, SANEDI supports several measures which could revitalise the post-Covid-19 Green New Deal initiative, these include:
- Putting climate change projects at the heart of recovery efforts
- Facilitating funding in green projects, supporting poverty alleviation and job creation
- Focusing on sustainable energy innovation for impact in urban and rural South Africa
- Advocating for green energy solutions that lessen reliance on finite fossil fuels, for example, and,
- Scaling up successful small endeavors, which, along with the above proposals, in turn can help grow the economy and create jobs.
The platform, he says, is already available as South Africa is no stranger to the principles of a GND with elements of it featuring in the National Growth Plan, while the Green Fund established in 2012 through the Department of Environmental Affairs with an initial R800 million seed fund, is managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, (DBSA).
The call to bring about equal distribution of income and reverse decades of environmental degradation is not unique to South Africa. In 2019, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its trade and development report calling for decarbonizing the global economy, arguing that it would require a significant rise in public investment, especially in clean transport, energy and food systems.
According to SANEDI, integration of actions are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on climate change, in particular meeting the targets of the National Development Plan (NDP), whose vision is by 2030 for the country to become fully engaged in the transition towards an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, low-carbon economy and a just society.
Putting this into numbers, the goals in the NDP seeks to achieve a reduction of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below a baseline of 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2030. The reduction of GHG emissions can be achieved by reducing our overall reliance on coal-based energy generation, to increasing and accelerating the uptake of energy efficiency and renewable sources – a transition that could potentially create 300000 green jobs, through infrastructure development and enabling new opportunities, especially for the poor.
“It is clear, South Africa can benefit in a post-Covid-19 scenario, by harnessing the positives of a Green New Deal and making it work towards shaping a stronger economy and creating jobs,” concludes Bredenkamp.View more