Issuing of SA’s first Energy Performance Certificate – an energy efficiency milestone achievement

SANEDI believes that the issuing of the first-ever EPC for a building in South Africa recently is a landmark achievement that will encourage energy efficiency across the board. According to the International Energy Agency buildings account for approximately 30% of global energy consumption and 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. These figures could easily grow in Africa – and particularly in South Africa – due to increasing urbanisation. 

On 18 February 2021, the Admin B building at Stellenbosch University, which houses the vice chancellor and executive team, received the first-ever EPC for a building in South Africa, in recognition of its commitment to energy efficiency. Bluedust Engineering Solutions, Stellenbosch University’s energy management consultants, were instrumental in achieving their EPC. The EPC was issued by Energy Management and Verification Services (EMVS) who is the first inspection body accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), to assess and issue an EPC rating for eligible South African buildings.

Background to EPCs

In December last year, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) passed into law a set of “Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings”.

EPCs are recorded by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) which is an agency of the DMRE. SANEDI is specifically tasked with hosting and maintaining a national Building Energy Performance Register, to keep track of progress towards the achievement of the goals and targets set out in the EPC Regulations.

EPCs rate buildings’ energy performance from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient and G the worst, with D being the mid-point, when benchmarking against the average figures quoted in the national South African Building Standard SANS 10400-XA.

For the purposes of the EPC, a building’s energy performance is measured in terms of kilowatt hours per square metre per annum (kWh/m2/pa) of net floor area in accordance with the National EPC Standard, (SANS 1544).

Barry Bredenkamp, SANEDI’s General Manager for Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications, explains, “Buildings must try and achieve at least a D-rating which is on par with the national benchmark. Their EPC must be displayed at the building entrance, no matter what their rating, in order to be compliant with the regulations.” 

Bredenkamp continues, “The regulations apply to non-residential buildings (specific occupancy classes) with a net floor area of at least 2,000m2 in the private sector, and 1,000m2 for buildings owned, operated or occupied by an organ of state.”

Property owners and government entities have until 7 December 2022 to ensure that their buildings adhere to the regulations. Penalties for non-compliance have not yet been stipulated, and currently stand at the discretion of the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Mr Gwede Mantashe. JP Spangenberg from EMVS says, “South Africans should not see this as a punitive expense, but as the responsible thing to do in our commitment to address climate change and sustainability matters. EPCs are, in essence, a tool that gives clients a snapshot view of their building energy performance, empowering them to make informed decisions relating to energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy integration.”

Bredenkamp says, “Stellenbosch University’s being awarded an A-rated EPC so soon after the regulations were gazetted, really is a phenomenal achievement and they should be applauded for this major step forward.” Nadeem Gafieldien, Stellenbosch University’s Director of Property Services, passionately supports all efforts towards sustainability, “Stellenbosch University is committed to the UN SDG’s and a sustainable future.  While this EPC demonstrates this commitment, we are also in the process of certifying many of our buildings, using the Green Building Council’s neighbourhood tool in our efforts towards a Net Zero Carbon future.”

Bluedust Engineering Solutions’ Dr Frank Duvenhage, says, “This highlights Stellenbosch University’s continued efforts over the past few years to be more energy efficient and to respond with earnest to the repeated calls by government to use energy sparingly and to reach their goal of a net-zero carbon future. Hopefully, this achievement will encourage other building owners to follow suit!”

Bredenkamp concludes, “The national drive towards energy efficiency will unlock the wider value chain, as building owners look to implement more efficient systems. Economic activity will be stimulated, as building owners work towards achieving compliance in areas such as HVAC, lighting, building retrofit, energy monitoring and more energy-efficient appliances and equipment, to optimize and reduce energy usage. This will involve engineering firms and other Energy Service Companies (ESCos), who will typically be contracted to do these energy efficiency upgrades, thereby creating much-needed job opportunities in the energy sector.”

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Cool surfaces – creating a sustainable, low-cost intervention during the economic crisis

According to the South African National Energy and Development Institute (SANEDI) Cool surface technology offers an immediate, direct and inexpensive solution to South Africa’s strides towards an economy built on clean energy.

Through this technology, the environment benefits from a passive-energy cooling solution that includes cool roofs, cool walls and cool roads.  Indeed, cool surfaces offer answers that demonstrate impact at various scales, industry and users.

National rollout and interventions

SA’s national energy supply is under constant threat, compounded by a fragile grid that is dealing with increasing demand, particularly as the economy continues to gradually unlock.  

The Project Officer for Energy Efficiency Cool Surfaces at SANEDI, Denise Lundall, explained that the rising energy costs have reduced citizens’ monthly cash flow that is needed for other essential necessities. 

“In such a scenario, energy efficiency should be at the front and centre of any energy strategy in this era of economic depression,” said Lundall.

According to Lundall, SANEDI has encouraged South Africans to manufacture cool coatings for rooves, walls and roads which could result in new industries and employment opportunities. 

“A national rollout of cool surfaces will greatly aid the government in not only alleviating pressure on the grid – as a passive energy solution – but also create much-needed local economic development manufacturing and employment opportunities,” said Lundall. 

Additionally, cool surfaces support the government’s drive to achieve multiple mandates. Cool roads, for example, can assist the Department of Transport to reduce the need for road maintenance and tyre damage, as it significantly reduces the surface and ambient temperature (of roads), effectively extending its lifespan.

“Cool surface technology can assist the Department of Trade and Industry in the revival of the economy, which includes a product lifecycle from manufacturing, testing to distribution and application. The Department of Human Settlements can benefit from a low-cost intervention that increases the standard of low-cost living, reduces energy costs and limits subsequent maintenance,” explained Lundall. 

Urban benefits

In urban areas, SANEDI’s Cool Surface projects provide coating application training to local communities and partner departments, particularly those suffering from high unemployment. Successful graduates are offered paid jobs as supervised interns during project deployment and bring back invaluable experience to their own communities.

“The deployment of cool surface technology also greatly improves urban air quality, reducing energy and health costs.  It reduces the urban heat island (UHI) effect as it cools the ambient temperature over cities, providing resilience to heat events and climate change,” commented Lundall. 

A UHI is a metropolitan area that is a lot warmer than the immediate areas surrounding it. Heat is created by energy from people, cars, buses, and trains in big and densely populated cities. These UHIs usually have worse air and water quality than its immediate neighbours and night-time temperatures remain high.

On an individual building scale, cool surfaces improve the thermal comfort of occupants in buildings without mechanical air-conditioning, like some schools, warehouses, homes and factories. 

“The technology improves health and productivity, saving on medical bills and reducing absenteeism from work and schools. Also, it substantially reduces the cost of building maintenance as it is waterproof, fire retardant, inexpensive, low-tech and quick and easy to deploy,” concluded Lundall.

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Small operational changes can reap great savings

Amid national energy constraints and a mining sector set to contract, the opportunity exists for South Africa’s mining sector to continue exploring cost-saving measures with improved energy efficiency. With mine production in the country has plummeted in April and May due to lockdown restrictions and a near-total industry shutdown, boosted efforts to save energy and costs can improve the sustainability of this sector, which accounts for 8% of the country’s GDP.

New challenges for South Africa

The General Manager of Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications for the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) explained that there are new challenges that the country is facing.

Addressing the ways energy is used in the mining sector can lead to huge financial and environmental savings for mine operations and for South Africa’s national grid. 

“Looking at the crossroads of mining and energy, and making some simple changes to operations, means that we can achieve a better economic return on our precious mineral and energy resources,” said Bredenkamp. 

Although most mines already have initiatives in place, newer technology and energy-saving techniques offer opportunities for improvement so desperately needed as mine productivity strives to recover.

The decision by President Ramaphosa last year to combine the Department of Energy and the Department of Mineral Resources amplifies the critical importance and synergy between these drivers of the economy. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has created a platform for the two industries to work together.

Bredenkamp explained that a recent case study by SANEDI on the 12L Tax Incentive showed how much energy efficiency can be gained from changes in mining operations. 

“The 12L Tax incentive provides an allowance for businesses to implement energy efficiency savings. The savings allow for a tax deduction of 95c/kWh saved on energy consumption for a consecutive 12-month period,” Bredenkamp said. 

Huge savings from simple changes

SANEDI undertook a case study with a large iron ore open-pit mining operation to establish what could be done to improve the mine’s energy efficiency. The study centred on the heavy mine-owned haul trucks, famous for being “gas guzzlers”. The mine’s trucks consumed a combined total of approximately 73 million litres of diesel during the baseline period.

To improve efficiency, the mine increased the amount of material transported by the haul truck fleets in each cycle, resulting in energy savings due to fewer cycles, achieving the same quantum of tonnes moved. The case study used a calibrated simulation model to assess the savings and found that, over two years, the haul trucks yielded a combined fuel savings of 21,685,430 kWh equivalent energy. 

Bredenkamp commented that changing the hauled load would be a simple technical challenge to overcome and it can achieve substantial savings. 

“The potential for even greater energy savings lies in every mine in South Africa, and a deeper look into how these mines operate holds huge implications for our economy,” Bredenkamp commented

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SANEDI and DOD partner for water treatment project in Hoedspruit

SANEDI (South African National Energy and Development Institute) is partnering with the Department of Defence (DoD) for a Water Treatment Works project at the SANDF Air Force Base in Hoedspruit in the Maruleng Municipality, Limpopo in light of Covid-19. 

The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions are essential for protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks including Covid-19. This is according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent report: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Waste Management for the Covid-19 Virus.

The report added that ensuring evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH (water, sanitation and health) and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces, and health-care facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19. 

“Ensuring evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH (water, sanitation and health) and waste management practices in communities,  homes, schools, marketplaces,  and health-care facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of, the virus that causes Covid-19,” added the report.

The project

Reliable and sufficient energy form the backbone in the effective delivery of clean water and waste treatment systems. Hoedspruit is situated in a severely water-stressed climatic zone compounded by a municipality that faces many electricity and water supply challenges. 

The Maruleng Municipality must deliver services hampered by ageing, often defunct and energy inefficient infrastructure of sewage and water treatment works which is based on the SANDF’s Air Force Base. The SANDF is able to facilitate a direct intervention by SANEDI to assess and ultimately implement energy solutions in order to assist with the situation, allowing for clean water distribution within Hoedspruit and surrounds. The collaboration between SANEDI and SANDF is a mutually beneficial one and is expected to expedite this five-year project towards completion. 

The Water Treatment Works project will initially assess the current infrastructure on the air force base, looking specifically at the energy consumption as well as the current state of repair and operations of the water treatment plant as well as the sewage works. SANEDI will also investigate the opportunities for clean energy (energy-efficient and renewable energy sources) interventions across this water treatment infrastructure. 

Based on the above assessments and available data, SANEDI will recommend the relevant energy and water system interventions. This is expected to lead to project initiation within 2020 (COVID-19 restrictions allowing).

The Manager of the Renewable Energy Centre of Research & Development, Clean Energy at SANEDI, Dr Karen Surridge, explained that the project will focus primarily on process energy efficiency, possible renewable energy interventions and system support towards efficient, reliable and clean water provision.

“The project is expected also to include skills development and transfer, long-term maintenance and development of an established inter-institutional support team comprising SANEDI, the SANDF and the Maruleng Municipality,” Surridge said

General Joseph Ledwaba of the DOD Defence Works Formation, sorting under Chief of Logistics SANDF, added, “We are excited to be a part of this energy intervention and look forward to a fruitful collaboration that leads to a reliable and health-promoting water treatment and supply to the Hoedspruit community”

The role players

Apart from facilitating the all-important collaboration with the municipality, the SANDF will provide system maintenance and structural implementation support.  Also, any hardware installation will be protected by the SANDF – access control will, therefore, be stringent, preventing potential theft and vandalism.

SANEDI features an entrenched experience in the execution of clean energy applications in water treatment projects.  To date, SANEDI has successfully completed municipal water treatment works projects through its REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership), projects at the !Kheis Local Municipality in the Northern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

Surridge stressed the important role that clean water plays in maintaining good hygiene and preventing the spread of Covid-19. 

“With the Water Treatment Works project at Hoedspruit we’re hoping to establish an infrastructure that will provide clean, safe water for the military base, residents in the town and the surrounding communities,” concluded Surridge.

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