Faith Mkhacwa, programme manager at the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA)
One of the many pertinent questions asked at this year’s African Utility Week was whether current focus should be on energy efficiency vs increasing capacity.
“Energy consumption is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions which contribute towards global warming. In a continent faced with a growing population and limited energy capacity, the only way to curb the increase in energy consumption, while preserving economic and social development, is to improve energy efficiency, and that’s where the challenge lies,” said Faith Mkhacwa, programme manager at the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA).
Mkhacwa was moderating a session focused primarily on the low hanging fruit for energy efficient buildings. The session allowed for case studies illustrating not just what's been done in the South African context, but how it's been done.
Energy consumption and carbon emissions
Manfred Braune, chief technical officer at Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), noted that while there has been a lot of focus on other industries, buildings present a massive opportunity for energy efficiency.
"If you think about buildings globally, they're responsible for 40% end-use energy, and you can translate that directly into carbon emissions. In South Africa, for example, the factor is between 1 and 1.2, translated from kilowatt-hours to kilogrammes of CO2, so buildings are hugely responsible for both carbon emissions and the energy consumption that's linked to that," explained Braune.
GBCSA achieved 200 certified green buildings last year - in terms of reductions in CO2 emissions annually, this equates to 84,000 cars off the road every year, he noted, and considering South Africa has over a million buildings in the various sectors, this presents an opportunity to make a significant impact.
One of the examples Braune pointed to was the Department of Environmental Affairs building in Tshwane which has a six-star rating. Apart from saving about 3-million kg of CO2 annually, and being 60-70% more efficient than SANS 10400-XA - the South African standard for energy efficiency - the PPP project also has a 25-year performance contract on operations and management of the building. "In a sense, it's a green lease on steroids for 25 years. There's penalties if, for example, the building's energy performance goes below or above a certain level, penalties that the private operator has to then cover because of failing to stick to that level of performance," explained Braune.
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