On 29 August 2017, Nigeria’s first Building Energy Efficiency Code (BEEC) was officially launched in Abuja by the Federal Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).
The BEEC is a set of minimum standards for energy efficient building in Nigeria. Chilufya Lombe, Director at Solid Green Consulting, says, “With the energy scarcity that is common in Africa, energy efficiency becomes very important in allowing and maintaining development. In Nigeria, we have found that energy efficiency can have a bigger impact than renewables. It is easier to build a building to consume 30 to 40% less energy than to pay to add renewable technology onto an inefficient building. In other words, we are talking about buildings that perform well from a first principles point of view.”
As technical consultants on the BEEC, Solid Green was commissioned to carry out work in four parts, namely:
- to investigate existing building practices and establish a typical baseline for residential and office buildings;
- to research building labels and incentive schemes that could encourage people to make use of the BEEC;
- to provide guidance on enforcement and control, including identifying training requirements for building code enforcement personnel, building industry professionals, developers and financiers;
- and to investigate energy modelling tools and their suitability for use in the Nigerian market.
Research for the BEEC was conducted primarily in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but the new minimum energy efficiency requirements can be adopted by any state in Nigeria. The scope of these minimum requirements cover two building categories – residential and office buildings.
Lombe explains, “We used modelling and simulations to determine the expected energy performance of a Business as Usual building (BAU model). We then reviewed simulated variations of the BAU model as well as international references to identify the minimum efficient requirements. The simulations take into account the various climatic conditions found in Nigeria.”
Numerous stakeholder engagements were conducted in the FCT state, including workshops with design engineers, architects, financiers, technical advisors, officials from the Ministry and the State Department of Development Control. This ensured that any minimum interventions proposed were reasonable for the region and would be possible to implement; and that a balance was achieved between interventions that led to savings and ones that made sense for the first iteration of the building code.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements
Under the BEEC, two compliance methods are possible – Prescriptive and Performance. For the Prescriptive option, projects must adhere to all the requirements as a checklist,
and no energy calculations are required. The Performance option looks at a whole building analysis using energy simulation software, and project teams may deviate from the prescriptive requirements provided that the theoretical energy use of the building is less than or equal to that of the same building with all the prescriptive requirements included.
To set the standard for minimum energy efficiency requirements, interventions were identified that lead to a minimum of 40% energy savings over current building practices. These interventions include:
- Overall Window to Wall Ratio must not exceed 20%;
- Shading is required when the Window to Wall Ratio exceeds 20%;
- Reduction of installed lighting power density;
- Minimum requirements for roof insulation;
- Minimum performance of air-conditioning equipment specified;
- Restricted use of non-inverter split units.
Building Energy Labels and Energy Efficiency Incentives
As an incentive for building owners and developers to comply with the BEEC, a comparative building label was developed, which rates a building depending on how many of the BEEC initiatives have been implemented. As the programme is voluntary for the first two years, this is a way of encouraging compliance with an official ‘badge of honour’.
After a voluntary period of two years, the intention is that the competent authority should make all requirements mandatory, and the label will be revised to communicate building energy efficiency on the market.
Public Education, Awareness and Training
“Campaigns to educate the public and prepare key market players are critical to the success of new building labelling and rating schemes,” Lombe observes. “Education and awareness build demand for voluntary labels and help to engage the market.
“Training has been identified as the most important enabler to effective control and enforcement of the BEEC. We carried out a survey to determine the capability of staff responsible for building permit approvals in assessing submissions related to energy efficiency in general and a BEEC in particular. From the survey, it was clear that not many of the staff have had previous exposure to the building physics elements that are important to a BEEC. Accordingly, we recommended training that focuses not only on the procedural requirements of a BEEC but also on the background knowledge of energy efficiency in general.”
The training will cover all aspects of the BEEC including understanding building physics; how to use BEEC calculation sheets; recognising correct details pertaining to the BEEC on drawings; recognising different types of equipment; and understanding the performance route to compliance. This training also has the potential to serve as a minimum qualification for staff who will process building permit approvals as well as for professionals in the construction industry.
Lombe adds that barriers to market adoption include a lack of sufficient information and understanding on the part of tenants and building owners to make well-informed investment decisions; a lack of information about the energy performance of buildings; and a misperception that energy efficiency measures make buildings more expensive.
“Training of building owners and vendors has a marked impact on participation. A look at the common barriers experienced in the procurement of products and commissioning of energy efficient buildings in the public sector immediately identifies awareness as the starting point to unlocking the remaining barriers. For example, a better understanding of life cycle costing can lead to questions around stringent policies of lowest initial purchase price requirements for equipment.”
The BEEC’s minimum energy efficiency requirements will also apply to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing’s own buildings, and the current Ministry building was used as a case study for the BEEC technical report.
Using data from an energy audit conducted on the building together with a simulation model, it was determined what the impact would have been if the BEEC had been applied to the building when it was built, in terms of both capital and running costs.
In terms of overall capital cost savings for the project, a 40% peak load saving would have been achieved. This could have equated to a N10 million saving per generator at today’s prices. As the building has two 500kVA generators, the total saving would have been N20 million.
In terms of running costs, a N9.8 million running cost saving per year would have been achieved if the BEEC had been implemented, through the specification of roof insulation and a more efficient air-conditioning system. This represents a 32% saving on overall energy use.
Lombe concludes, “Implementing the BEEC on the Ministry project provides almost the same cost saving as providing renewable energy in the form of photovoltaics. However, the BEEC also provides a capital cost saving for the project whilst the photovoltaics require a significant capital investment.”
The BEEC’s minimum energy efficiency requirements are to be voluntary for up to a maximum of two years to give individual states an adoption and inception phase, after which the requirements will become mandatory – a significant move towards more sustainable development in Nigeria.
Old Mutual was recently awarded a five-star Green Star SA Existing Building Performance rating for its Mutualpark offices in Pinelands, Cape Town. This rating by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is said to make it the largest existing building to achieve this rating in the southern hemisphere.
Old Mutual also unveiled its Mutualpark solar installation, which is claimed the largest corporate solar carport in South Africa. It consists of 3,600 solar panels over about 14,500m2. With output just over 1MWp (mega watt peak) and covering 565 carports, the solar photovoltaic system will produce enough electricity to cut up to 8% of Mutualpark’s consumption. This equates to one free month of Mutualpark’s electricity per year or about R4.5m per year.
Finding solutions to the challenges of our time
Speaking at the handover of the Green Star SA certification and the official opening of the Mutualpark solar project, Rose Keanly, COO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, said that the certification and solar installation underscore Old Mutual’s commitment to making a positive impact on broader socio-economic and environmental issues in the country. It proves that big corporates are able to make a meaningful difference by being resourceful and thinking creatively to find solutions for the challenges of our time.
“Given rising electricity tariffs and the current constraints on South Africa’s electricity supply, energy efficiency is critical to economic growth and stability. Responsible environmental management is one of the five pillars that define our responsible business approach. As Mutualpark is home to 7,000 employees, the building is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the Western Cape and this project now enables us to free up a significant amount of electricity on the City of Cape Town grid.”
True green building
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, said that Mutualpark represents what a true green building should aspire to be – energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible. “A five-star Green Star SA performance certification in a complex of this size is truly remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that some of the buildings at Mutualpark date back to 1954, debunking the myth that green building performance is only possible in new buildings. This is, by far, the largest green building in South Africa and it is fitting that Old Mutual, who we all know as ‘the big green’, has demonstrated its leadership by achieving this certification.”
The GBCSA’s Green Star SA certification system regards five stars as “South African Excellence” and for Old Mutual to demonstrate its commitment to environmental responsibility in such a significant way shows true leadership, he said. “Old Mutual now joins the league of what we like to call Planet Shapers, demonstrating to all stakeholders that operating premises in an environmentally responsible way is both achievable and makes business sense – doing well by doing good,” said Wilkinson.
Group Climate Change Strategy
In addition to its Green Star SA rating achievement, Mutualpark was also commended by the City of Cape Town at the recent 2016 Energy Efficiency Forum Awards for its efforts to reduce energy consumption.
Keanly said Old Mutual will continue to monitor, manage and reduce its direct and indirect environmental impact. “This is in line with our Group Climate Change Strategy, which aims to improve the completeness and accuracy of our emissions data.”
She added that in Johannesburg construction is on track to complete Old Mutual’s new 12-storey 30,000m² head office in Sandton by end 2017. The new building will also target a five-star Green Star SA rating from the GBCSA for office design.
Keanly concluded that Old Mutual will continue to seek ways to become progressively more resource efficient while supporting a healthier local environment for people to live and work in.
After South Africa’s rapid adoption of green building in the commercial sector, the focus shifts to the housing market.
It has been ten years since South Africa’s rapid adoption of the green building movement – with eco-friendly buildings now being recognised as the standard for quality real estate.
Although terms like “environmentally-sustainable buildings”, “rain harvesting” and “off-the-grid innovations” have been bandied about for years in greenie or hipster circles, they have gained more credibility since green building initially took off in 2007 in South Africa.
Supporting this view is the number of certified buildings by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which has risen to 200 buildings from one certified building in 2009.
Going green has largely been in the office property market. However, the next phase of sustainable building is expanding into the affordable housing market.
The certification of eco-friendly residential homes has been in the making since 2014 through the GBCSA’s rating tool called the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (or EDGE) for new houses being designed and built.
Since piloting the EDGE tool two years ago, the GBCSA is in the process of registering and certifying 5 300 residential homes. It is also targeting for 8 000 homes to be certified by the end of the year.
Speaking at the International Housing Solutions Affordable Housing Conference on Thursday, the EDGE managing executive at GBCSA Graham Cruickshanks said it’s targeting 52 000 green certified homes in the next seven years.
“We are hoping for green certification and green homes to be a norm in South Africa and to be business as usual for developers,” said Cruickshanks.
He said by 2020 the demand for electricity will rise by 46% globally, making the case for going the environmentally sustainable route strong.
The focus for greening homes is mostly for large residential developments –with the roll out free-standing homes, for certification, and less so apartment buildings and single home owner builders. To achieve an EDGE rating, housing units must demonstrate a 20% minimum energy, water and embodied energy savings.
The adoption of sustainable building in the commercial property sector in South Africa has been widely lauded by the international community. A recently published World Green Building Trends 2016 report, compiled by construction group Dodge Data & Analytics, indicates that South Africa has emerged as a leader in green building based on the level of commitments of green projects.
After South Africa’s rapid adoption of green building in the commercial sector, focus shifts to the housing market.
The country has the highest green building share, trumping countries such as the UK and the US, China, Singapore, Germany, and the historical green building market leader Australia.
The World Green Building Trends report expects more growth in residential projects in the green building market.
Private residential developers are already getting in green building act. Private equity firm International Housing Solutions (IHS) is forging ahead with its affordable housing development Ravenswood in Kempton Park, Gauteng – which is the first residential project in South Africa to achieve an EDGE design certification by the GBCSA.
The development, which will boast 188 two-bedroom green homes, has demonstrated a projected total savings of 250 000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than 10 000 kilolitres of water annually, in its design. This translates into a saving of almost R600 000 a year or R3 200 in utility costs for each unit by applying EDGE-certified energy efficiency measures.
IHS owns over 8 000 units in the affordable housing market and has a mandate of investing in housing developments that are valued from R400 000 to R700 000.
IHS’ managing director Rob Wesselo said in all its affordable housing projects, the mandate is to make them 20% more efficient from an electricity, water and materials point of view. He stresses going green doesn’t have to be expensive, as simple measures such as using windows that allow for natural light, installing shower heads that conserve water and using clay instead of cement bricks can cut development costs.
Green features at Ravenswood will include the use of solar hot water collectors, efficient water usage through the installation of smart meters, roof insulation to ensure optimal energy efficiency, and more.
Earn valuable CPD credits
Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.
If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.
Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is underwriting the innovative scheme, paying up to 70% of the initial investment costs in a partnership with the German government.
Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said: “We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”
Morocco has established itself as a regional climate leader with high-profile projects, ranging from the largest windfarm in Africa to an enormous solar power plant in the Sahara desert, which opened earlier this year.
In November, Marrakech will host the COP22 climate summit to discuss preparations for implementing the Paris climate agreement.
The country’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate, shortly before an Islamic declaration on climate change last year.
“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” she said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.”
The new green mosques project plans to do this with established technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes. By training electricians, technicians and auditors, it hopes to direct Morocco’s clean energy along the path followed by German’s Energiewende, (energy transition).
But Kuntze stressed that Germany was offering technological support, rather than financial opportunities for its own industries.
“We are not representing any German business interests at all,” he said. “The good thing about this project is that the Moroccan government came up with the idea themselves. It is something new and really innovative and it has not been tried anywhere else before, to my knowledge.”
The initiative has broken new ground for gender equality in Morocco too. Many mourchidates (female clerics) have been involved in the project, as well as imams, and about a quarter of the participants in recent seminars have been women, Kuntze said.
Under the project’s energy service contract model, contractors will eventually be paid by the energy savings generated from the clean power systems they install. As the renovations should cut the mosques’ electricity usage by 40%, these should be substantial.
The first 100 mosques to get a green makeover are mostly based in big population centres – such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca – but the project will quickly move on to smaller villages and towns. With 15,000 mosques dotted around the north African country, the idea’s growth potential is clear.
The objective was to kickstart a renovations industry for sustainable companies that could employ many Moroccans in the clean energy sector, Kuntze said.
Earn valuable CPD credits
The key question for South Africa is how will it be done, and how we ensure it that it does not hurt the economy, nor the poor. In any case, given the increase in electricity prices over the last few years, the tax liability of companies that have adjusted to these price hikes will be better off than companies that are stuck with old technologies or business models that make them reliant on fossil fuels or methods of production that lead to high emissions of carbon dioxide.
The carbon tax ought to help achieve three things: lower carbon intensity from improved energy efficiency or through switching to alternative energy; it ought to stimulate new growth, new technologies and enterprise; and it should encourage development of new product lines which in turn would stimulate new investments and jobs. This is why a carbon tax, unlike alarmist claims, is not a zero-sum game.
With more than 40 countries, 20 subnational jurisdictions and over 200 global companies imposing carbon pricing in some form, the writing is on the wall: a global carbon price is on the horizon. Airline emissions will be priced soon, and it is likely that shipping will be included in the near future. Basically, if South Africa does not impose carbon pricing, it will be imposed upon it. It is true that the current carbon tax proposal is not perfect, but it is nevertheless immensely better to have a flawed, but fixable, instrument in place than to have nothing at all.
Increased electricity prices already make a strong case for business and industry to invest in energy efficiency. The proposed tax price of R120 and the extent of rebates mean that the carbon tax will not change this much, with no increase in electricity price and a 1% to 4% increase in the price of fuel. It nevertheless makes sense that an initial, low-cost tax be piloted in order to iron out the monitoring and reporting structures to ensure its enforceability, while accustoming tax-liable entities to the process.
It is critical for government to adhere to the proposal to increase the carbon tax over the first phase, and when the rebates are reduced during the second phase, alternative options such as on-site renewable electricity generation and more significant efficiency investments become financially attractive. Without this increase, the carbon tax will fail to leverage any real change.
It is also important to bear in mind that those industries and businesses that act early will have an advantage, both competitively through improved efficiencies and through reduced tax liability. In effect, a carbon tax can improve business viability, by requiring investments in energy efficiency that would otherwise be uneconomic for a business.
In the transition phase the carbon tax should be used as a tool to prod change, and revenues generated from the tax should be used to assist struggling sectors and those most likely to be affected from the transfer of costs to consumers (in the first phase the effects will be negligible). In the short term there should be revenue neutrality and in the long term government will benefit its tax base through improved use of energy, new investments due to productivity, and new technology.
Accompanying the draft carbon tax bill are the just-released draft carbon offset regulations, which are an important component of the national mitigation measures. They indicate that the National Treasury has been listening to inputs from the public, and has put serious thought into the risks of carbon offsetting. At present, any tax-liable entity will be allowed to avoid some of their carbon tax liability by purchasing offsets.
The basic concept underlying carbon offsets is that a tonne of greenhouse gas is effectively the same wherever in the world it is emitted. Therefore, if the implementer of some regulated activity that emits a greenhouse gas can pay to have an equivalent amount measurably removed (or “sequestered”) from the atmosphere elsewhere, on balance he will have met his obligation.
Of course, this requires that the activity that sequesters the greenhouse gas is not itself subject to regulation, and that this removal would not have occurred anyway (termed “additionality”). Government needs to put strong requirements in place to ensure this additionality, and to regularly check that the assumptions are still valid for projects.
Offsets need careful consideration if they are not to be abused and used as false measures of progress. Offsets should reduce the overall emissions profile of the economy, not maintain the status quo or result in an increase (which is termed “leakage” in the technical jargon of the field). Offsets should not be a free pass for polluters and a financial windfall for market speculators.
There is still a need for some changes to the proposed carbon offsets structure – principally limiting it to sectors that have no alternative but to offset – but it is a necessary component of the national mix of measures required to facilitate a transition to a low carbon economy. The main risk is associated with the complexity of implementation.
Carbon offsets are a critical part of what is called the mitigation hierarchy. It is important first to both avoid emissions wherever possible through investment in renewable energy and ceasing activities that provide little benefit to society, and to reduce emissions across low energy technologies, public transport, solar water heating, and any number of means of improving energy efficiency.
However, certain essential activities such as the manufacture of steel have no alternative to greenhouse gas emissions. As long as society depends on these activities, greenhouse gas emissions are a given; offsets are the only means of reducing total emissions from these sectors. For this reason, offset allowances should be limited only to essential activities that provide the most benefit to the economy and the poor.
The appetite for offsets from these activities should suffice to catalyse improved mitigation in sectors not currently liable for a carbon tax. Not using offsets for other sectors will prevent offsets from undermining the incentive provided by a carbon tax to improve the efficiencies and reduce intensity of processes in these sectors.
Moreover, not all offsets are created equal. While the Treasury white list of approved activities excludes many of the more egregious forms of offset generation, some have more risk associated with them than others. Curtailing methane emissions from waste or dairy manure lagoons is straightforward, readily measured, and largely uneconomic at present, and therefore is a good, low-cost option that makes sense to implement.
Fuel switch options are less simple; switching between different fossil fuel types should not be encouraged as South Africa transitions towards a low carbon economy, and the economic case for renewables makes these viable even without carbon credit finance. However, for effective fuel switching to occur, reforms in the energy sector are necessary.
A more effective means of financing the switch to renewables would be the finalisation of a feed-in tariff to allow generation of electricity by homes, businesses and larger installations.
This should be decentralised to local government.
The national offsets registry should be complemented by recording all offsets generated within the country, voluntary or regulated. If this is not done, a credit could be sold to a buyer outside the country, who will record the reduction against his regulation. It will also be captured in the national Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which is part of South Africa’s regular reporting to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is called “double counting”, where a single emission is claimed by two different people, and is one of the big risks of offsets. By ensuring that the national registry tracks where such credits are sold, it will enable South Africa to avoid double counting.
Moreover, government must ensure that the systems in place for application of the tax and offsets are up to the task. Given that many of the proposed offsets have a restricted credit period, it will be necessary for offset purchasers to replace credits once they expire: this means that seven to 20 years after a credit is purchased, the entity will have to buy new credits.
This is considerable longer than the usual period for which tax records are retained; government must ensure that this is adequately enforced or the validity of the offsets will be undermined.
Overall, it is encouraging to see that the government of South Africa is pushing forward with internal measures to make good on its international commitments and obligations to its own citizens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Earn valuable CPD credits
The climate change challenge cannot be isolated from the on-going need for economic development in Africa, and the aim should be to reduce CO2 emissions whilst increasing trade and economic opportunities for the growing population on the continent.
Jonathan Horn, Maersk Line Southern Africa Managing Director is shedding light on the environmental challenges that lie ahead, and aims to show that substantial reductions in CO2 are possible while still enabling trade and development across Africa.
Horn explains that in order to create a sustainable low carbon economy, an efficient shipping sector is critical.
“Maritime shipping is the most carbon-efficient method to transport goods – far more efficient than road or air transport. For example, transporting one ton of goods for one kilometre by air or truck emits 560 grams and 45 grams of CO2, respectively. If the same quantity of goods is transported by one of Maersk’s energy efficient Triple-E vessels as little as three grams of CO2 is emitted,” he says.
About 90% of global trade by volume travels by sea and trade is crucial in the pursuit of creating development opportunities. According to the World Bank, no country has significantly increased per capita income the last 50 years without greatly expanding trade.
Horn therefore highlights the need for a more sustainable and efficient trading environment in order to effectively reduce the environmental impacts of trade, still enabling growth.
“The choice of transportation method plays a significant role in the level of CO2 emitted during the transport process. We are committed to further accelerating growth on the African continent while at the same time raising the bar on carbon efficiency. Our commitment is long-term, as is our history in Africa,” adds Horn.
Since 2007, the Maersk Group’s shipping company, Maersk Line, has proven that shipping can decouple growth and fossil fuel consumption, already having reduced emissions per container moved by 42% by end 2015 from a 2007 baseline.
“Maersk Line has driven energy efficiency improvements across the company, pioneering initiatives ranging from network design and speed optimisation, to technical upgrades and the deployment of new and more efficient ships in its network, such as the Triple-E vessels.”
Despite CO2 emissions remaining relatively low in Africa, when compared to other more developed regions, severe consequences can be felt throughout the continent. According to the 2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, eight out of the ten countries most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa. The continent is suffering from increased climate-related ‘shocks’, such as the extreme drought that has persisted across Southern Africa, exacerbated by an exceptionally strong El Niño weather pattern.
“Reducing our carbon footprint remains at the core of our commitment. The Maersk Group is pursuing energy efficiency across its entire portfolio and have set a target to improve CO2 efficiency across the group by 30% by 2020, compared to the 2010 baseline. By the end of 2015, Maersk Group had achieved a 23% improvement,” he says.
Consumers care more than ever before about the environmental impact of the products they buy, and companies are incorporating green business trends in order to capitalize on this growing demand. As of 2014, “55% of consumers across 60 countries [were] willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies… 71% of Americans at least consider the environment as a factor when shopping,” according to a green industry report.
In addition to the revenue-boosting effect from ‘going green’, businesses can also appreciate some significant savings from reduced energy costs by incorporating sustainability and energy efficiency into their products, practices and operations.
Innovative & Renewable Energy
Renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, have been impacting commercial industries for several years, creating more sustainable practices across the board. Renewable energy and innovative methods of sourcing energy is now more mainstream in business-to-consumer markets as well. As in residential scenarios, businesses can offset their usage and costs by implementing renewable methods like solar paneling. Businesses are also finding more unique ways to generate energy — one company is even turning food waste and sewage into usable energy!
Waste is the antithesis to green behavior, whether it happens with energy, products and supplies, or food. Feeding America® reports an estimated 70 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the United States alone. This food waste generates more greenhouse gases that carry a greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Many urban restaurants, grocery stores, and food producers are cutting back on waste by donating their leftover food to homeless shelters and food banks. Meanwhile, grocery retailers are increasingly redesigning their business models to reduce food waste, going so far as developing zero-waste stores and recipe-based food delivery services.
Energy Efficient Housewares
Green business trends toward energy efficiency are affecting the residential marketplace, particularly with home renovations and the choices homeowners make for a home remodel. Construction companies and providers of home services are offering eco-friendly options that homeowners prefer. Common examples of these popular eco-friendly products include new appliances with high Energy Star ratings, tankless water heaters, solar paneling, and insulated windows or window film. Many construction firms are also incorporating green business trends in their building and sourcing methods, such as using reclaimed or recycled materials for a variety of home renovation applications, instead of brand-new materials and fixtures.
Tech companies and corporate businesses can do a lot to reduce their carbon footprint, beyond simply adding a recycling bin and encouraging employees and customers to go paperless. Computers and other electronic devices use up a lot of energy, especially when they are left on after-hours and when moving screen-savers are running. Office-based businesses can easily implement a ‘greener’ approach with a policy of turning off the default screen-saver triggers, and asking employees to turn their computers and electronics off at the end of each day. For companies with the budget to replace older machines, energy-efficient electronics with high Energy Star ratings or EPEAT marks are available. Another popular employment benefit for technology and media industries in particular, is to allow or encourage telecommuting. This is also a green business trend, since commuting carries a significant carbon footprint for the employee, and employers spend more in energy and financial costs with larger office spaces.
Marketing and advertising is a cornerstone of virtually any business. Eco-friendly advertising trends and methods are becoming more popular. For example, some companies are choosing to advertise on new billboards that showcase the business while providing an ecological benefit, such as purifying the air or hosting an urban garden. Businesses are also reducing their use of paper products, while saving lots of money in printing costs by focusing more on digital marketing and online advertising avenues.
Moving forward, green business trends are expected to continue to develop with a focus on carbon recycling, green infrastructure, microgrids, the circular economy, and the B-to-B sharing economy, according to a 2016 report from GreenBiz. Progressively, these elements of eco-friendly business practices are becoming more of an opportunity for reducing risks and increasing revenue — opening the door for mainstream investors to finance sustainable business growth.
“Commercial and industrial property owners who oversee green buildings will see a significant savings across energy, trash, water and maintenance costs,” says USGBC spokeperson Leticia McCadden. “Over the next four years (2015-2018), the green construction industry is expected to save $2.4 billion in energy.”
This was evident the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015 last week. And according to a new green building trends report previewed at the event about 70 percent of survey respondents cite lower operating costs as the greatest benefit of green building.
“Green buildings are better for the environment, better for business and better for the people within them,” says John Mandyck, United Technologies Corp. chief sustainability officer. “Green building activity continues to accelerate, with growing awareness of occupant and tenant benefits, speaking to the fact that the real, tangible benefits of green buildings are becoming more widely recognized.”
Green Building Doubling Every Three Years
United Technologies Corp co-funded the World Green Building Trends 2016 report by Dodge Data & Analytics. It surveyed 1,000 building professionals from 69 countries, building on 2008 and 2012 research, and found respondents across all regions studied projected that more than 60 percent of their projects would be green projects by 2018, with a doubling from current projects across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The largest percentage of green building activity continues to be in the commercial building segment, comprising 46 percent of respondents’ future green building projects. Activity in institutional buildings — schools, hospitals and public buildings — is expected to surpass green building projects in existing buildings (38 and 37 percent respectively) by 2018.
The full findings of the report, which will be available in 2016, reaffirm 2008 and 2012 research that green building is doubling every three years.
Forty percent of respondents noted client demands as a driver for green building activity, followed by environmental regulations (35 percent). Both categories increased over 2008 and 2012 responses. From an environmental perspective, reducing energy consumption (84 percent) and reducing water consumption (76 percent) topped the list as important.
Water Management an Emerging Focus Area
Benjamin Freas, Navigant Research senior research analyst, said at Greenbuild he heard more interest in water management as well as how buildings fit into smart cities. Water management in buildings is an area Navigant continues to watch as well.
“Water has historically been too cheap to worry too much about in commercial buildings,” Freas says. “Increased focus on water scarcity and declining prices of control hardware is starting to unlock the water management market.”
Another area for growth is in building controls. As HVAC, lighting and other equipment become increasingly efficient, future efficiency gains will rely on managing how the equipment operates, Freas says.
Green Building Challenges
“The biggest change in building controls is the continuing convergence of IT and building technology,” he says. “This is enabling better integration between building systems and providing more data to building systems. In turn, with more data, buildings can operate beyond the scope of optimized local systems to improving operation on a building level.”
While an “unprecedented level” of green building technology has emerged to keep occupants comfortable while reducing operating expenses, the challenge to building owners and operators is the cost-effective implementation of this technology, Freas says. Big data allows buildings to run more efficiently and these high-tech features help building owners better attract and retain tenants.
“The biggest opportunity comes from how to deliver this functionality,” Freas says. “It will be an internet of things platform. But, will it be traditional building controls companies adapting their offerings to the internet? Will it be IT infrastructure companies pulling building networks into their purview? Will it be consumer electronics manufacturers leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices to provide meaningful data to building systems?”
Role in Climate Change
James Cameron weighed in on climate change and green building at the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2015.
A keynote speaker at last week’s event, the director of films including “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “The Terminator,” told the Washington Post that growing populations mean massive building in cities globally. “If all those buildings are constructed the way we’ve traditionally constructed buildings it will be an enormous spike in greenhouse gas emissions,” Cameron said.
On a global scale, green buildings can play a key role in helping manage climate change, says the US Green Building Council.
As the COP21 climate talks in Paris approach, the USGBC has joined with other councils around the world to advance the green building sector by 2030 and achieve by 2050 two major goals: net-zero-carbon new building in addition to energy efficiency and deep refurbishment of existing stock. For the first time, COP will feature a Buildings Day to highlight the importance of green buildings as a critical piece of the climate change response. And USGBC has committed to, in the next five year, scaling up efforts to support certification of a projected over 5 billion square feet of green building with LEED and EDGE.
A SHETLAND couple are opening their home to visitors who want to learn more about energy efficiency and living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
As part of this month’s Green Home Energy Week, Sue Hinton and Tom Jenkinson will share their experiences with anyone interested.
It is only three years ago that they started making changes towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
It all started with the first Nortenergy polytunnel (or “polycrub”), which was followed by a second one a year later.
In March last year local firm Nordri installed a 4kw solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which has provided the majority of their electricity since then –including running the freezers and fridges they keep for their homegrown food.
The couple also installed a multi-fuel stove burning mainly peat and wood, which allowed them to switch off the originally installed storage heaters.
Fifty two year old Tom, who has been working in the oil industry all his life, took the opportunity to make some dramatic changes to his life after being “pensioned off” four years ago.
His partner Sue said the philosophy behind their approach was “trying to be self-sufficient by working with nature”.
Tom said he was extremely happy with the service they had received from Nordri who “knew what they were doing” when using extra strong brackets installing the solar panel on the roof.
Since then the wind has created problems only once, when it loosened up the fittings of the panels, but the local installer was quick to fix the issue.
He said the REC Peak Energy solar system, costing £9,000, needed very little maintenance and came with a 20-year warranty.
Before installing this technology they enjoyed a visit from their local Home Energy Scotland renewable adviser Steven Coutts.
They hope to install other renewable technology in the future. Sue’s advice is clear: “We are definitely doing it if you can afford it, but first do a lot of research and get some professional advice.”
Green Home Energy Week runs from 5 to 13 September, and is organised by the Energy Saving Trust.
With two polytunnels in the garden, Sue and Tom’s house on the A970 just before heading into Brae can’t be missed.
Their doors are open between 9am and 5pm on Saturday 5th, and for the same hours a week later.
They are also available by appointment between Sunday and Friday (6 to 11 September). Please call Giovanna Bisoni on 01463 259714 for appointments.
South Africa’s energy sector has faced a crisis since 2008, marked by power cuts, high tariffs and a general inability to match supply and demand.This has led to a dismal picture being painted about the future of the country’s energy supply and its impact on economic growth.It is imperative that a solution is found to the current difficult situation. This is because energy plays a vital role in the growth and development of a country.
A priority for policymakers since the end of apartheid 1994 has been to provide energy to everyone. Since this target has nearly been achieved, the attention is shifting to the intensity of electricity use in South Africa.
What will it take to achieve greater efficiency?
There are three key areas that can lead South Africa towards greater energy efficiency, as well as reductions in carbon emissions. These are:
technological innovations for energy efficiency;
changing the energy supply mix; and
promoting structural changes in the economy.
All these can be combined in national energy policies and strategies, but they differ in two points: the time horizon of the results and the risk of outcomes.
The introduction of technological innovations that can achieve higher energy efficiency levels depends heavily on the availability and cost of the innovations. It also depends on the receptiveness in sectors where they will be adopted.
Changing South Africa’s energy supply mix won’t be easy because of the abundance of coal. In addition, and possibly more importantly, the state-owned power utility Eskom’s fleet of power stations runs mostly on coal.
When energy was plentiful and cheap, South Africa pumped huge incentives towards energy-heavy sectors such as manufacturing.
Equally, the sectors which drive the economy are energy intensive. They are also important sources of employment, investment and income. Historically the country primarily promoted mega industries that use a lot of energy and are capital-intensive. Until 2008-09, South Africa’s comparatively low industrial electricity tariffs attracted significant investments in traditionally energy-intensive sectors such as mining and manufacturing.
These industries are inflexible and slow to change. For example, once a major investment has been made in the construction of a smelter, opportunities to change to more energy efficient technology or production process are limited.
The government appreciates the need to reduce the energy intensity of the economy over the long term. This year’s budget made specific mention of the need to promote growth in tradeable and services sectors that consume less electricity per unit of output.
But it will take more to bring about any meaningful change. To achieve the shift in the economy without affecting output and production, economic and industrial policies should be combined with efforts from energy policymakers.
Government has suggested the need for promoting growth in tradable and services sectors that consume less electricity per unit of output.
It would be helpful to adjust the incentives and tariffs that attract energy-intensive investments. Incentives should be directed to low-emission and low-intensity sectors. By lowering the cost of energy, input costs would come down and South African exports could achieve greater competitiveness.
Admittedly, the trade-off and eventual balance is difficult and requires financial and political support from various stakeholders. Of critical importance is the co-ordination of various policies. A concerted effort should be made by all government departments involved with South Africa’s economic sectors. This can only be achieved by all inclusive debate and design over time.
The transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge, service and quality of human capital based economy requires information, education and research and development.
Any new strategy therefore needs to include investment in research activities that will show the way to innovative solutions. Areas to be explored could include structural changes in the economy as well as more efficient ways to consume energy.
In this transition, South Africa should also investigate alternative fuels that will make even the high energy intensive sector’s consumption cleaner and more environmental friendly. For this, a properly planned, organised, managed and monitored market for renewable energies needs to be put in place.
This needs to be combined with a comprehensive policy to provide consumers with alternatives to “dirty” fossil fuel-based energy.
Instead of penalising heavy users of electricity such as mines government should incentivise them to become energy efficient.
Finally, how else can this transition be promoted? There is one thing that all sectors, industries and firms are interested in – economic gain and profits. Instead of penalising intensive users, which happens with a carbon tax, an alternative would be to incentivise them.
This could be done by introducing a reward programme, such as an emissions trading system, or, even more suitable to South Africa, an energy-intensity trading scheme.
By trading credits of energy intensive use, the sectoral users would aim to reduce their energy consumption as well as trade their credits for additional profits.
South Africa is a unique case with a number of inherited socioeconomic challenges and difficulties. But its energy policymakers have started aiming at more fundamental changes rather than the recent short-term solutions.
Structural economic changes and an effort to shift the economy to sectors with lower energy consumption and a smaller footprint will certainly take more time, and even more funding, to bear positive results. But the impact will be more permanent and sustainable.