“ Climate Change: The Good News ”

‘The world has now worked out how to create wealth with fossil fuels’ says Peter Newman, Professor off Sustainability from Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

‘The evidence is now here that we are decoupling GDP growth from fossil fuels, for the first time in 200 years. Not only in the developed world but also in China, India and South Africa, he said at the first African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum in Tshwane.

‘This is the good news that help world leaders prepare for the Paris talks in December, when the phasing out of fossil fuels is agreed to by all nations’, he said.

‘How is this happening?’ Newman asked.

‘Coal is being phased out because renewables are now a cheaper and more reliable investment for the future, as well as energy efficiency.’

‘Across the world we are seeing the demonstration of zero carbon buildings and neighbourhoods at low cost with hi-Ion batteries now the next revolutionary addition making renewables available 24 hours.’

‘Oil is being phased out by the reduction in ear dependence and the growth of electric transport options’ Professor Newman outlined.

‘Cities in the developed world are reversing their urban sprawl and investing in quality, fast rail systems to overcome traffic problems. Peak car use and enhanced walkable cities are now indicators of wealth,’ he said.

‘But the extraordinary shift to electric transport in China (and now India) is showing how quickly oil can be phased out. The building of electric metros in 86 Chinese cities, the development of 11,000km of fats train systems, linking cities and the growth of 250 million electric vehicles (mostly electric bikes and scooters), is now helping clear the air as well reduce greenhouse emissions.’

Just as India’s cities are poised to take up the mantle of development with sustainable energy and sustainable transport, African cities, are similarly facing this new agenda.’

‘The key message I have’, Professor Newman said, is that African cities should be strong in their goal t lead the world to a more sustainable future. The evidence is now in that you do not need fossil fuels to develop African cities economically and socially.

Press Statement: by Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability, Lead Author IPCC, Perth, Australia

More big companies participate in the 49M Business Energy Rating Index

Three more large organizations have demonstrated their commitment to the energy cause by becoming the latest corporates to participate in the 49M Business Energy Efficiency Index. Sun International, MMI Holdings and Tiger Brands (Consumer Brands, Grains and International) have submitted their information on their annual

Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!
Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!

energy consumption, less than a month after 49M launched its first Business Energy Rating Index. 49M released the new Business Energy Rating Index for corporates, retail and industrial businesses to encourage energy efficiency among businesses across the country and to contribute towards the development of sustainable business practices.

The 49M Business Energy Rating Index measure the electricity consumption of South African companies in terms of various parameters, the first of which being the usable space (all under roof operations excluding garages and store rooms as per SANS1544) occupied by the company in its buildings and operations. This provides an indication of the company’s energy efficiency, expressed as a function of electricity consumption per square metre of usable space.

All companies, including those that are already reporting on sustainability are urged to participate. By calculating the energy rating of companies and listing them on an energy rating index, it becomes possible to establish trends of efficiency measures within various sectors. The Index is part of 49M’s continuous call to all businesses to do their bit to save energy as the country’s power system remain constraint. The Index can be viewed at Requests to participate in the 49M Business Energy Efficiency Index can also be submitted via the website.

The Index will be updated quarterly as more organisations provide information to participate.

Participating companies  & Company Rating

Discovery – 376.68

Gold Fields – 118.34

Imperial Holdings – 163.94

Investec plc and Ltd – 257.00

Massmart – 211.90

MMI Holdings – 255.12

Murray & Roberts Holdings – 124.45

Netcare – 304.93

Pick n Pay Holdings – 345.23

Santam – 133.40

Spar Group – 156.69

Sun International – 253.39

The Foschini Group – 209.00

Tiger Brands – 243.97

Woolworths Holdings – 292.10

Source: 49M


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Amdec aims to triple its green buildings in the next 24 months

Leading private property company Amdec has set its sights on tripling the number of green buildings in its property portfolio over the next two years.

Having already earned Green Star SA ratings for two of its buildings in the last two years; Amdec plans to boost its pace of investing in green buildings by taking this number to six in the coming 24 months.

James Wilson, Amdec CEO, comments: “We take a multifaceted approach to sustainability and energy-efficiency. So, while we intend to pursue more Green Star SA ratings for all our new developments, and some of our existing ones, we are also adding more resource-efficient features to all our assets, whether there is a rating tool available for them or not. This helps take strain off our power grid, and our building users’ pockets, as well as being good for the environment and helping communities prosper.” By considering the bigger picture, Amdec’s green building ethos has a far-reaching positive impact. Its holistic approach to green buildings is helping to change the way people think and live.

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“An important part of green building is educating and transforming communities, updating legislation and government processes, and changing how we experience development,” explains Josef Quraishi, head of sustainability and green building for the Amdec group. “Our macro view considers a building’s inherent relationship with its surrounds, ensuring it contributes to the sustainability of its community and natural setting,” explains Josef. “When we develop, we look at the broader context of investing in communities. A thriving community is good for business, the more attractive a community is, the more desirable our buildings become.”

Green building is growing apace in South Africa and Amdec, an active partner to the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), is helping it move into the future. In fact, Josef was closely involved with developing the GBCSA’s Socio Economic Category Pilot, which has been embraced by the World Green Building Council. “Our relationship with the Green Building Council has allowed us to better understand where green building is going and the components of sustainability, like energy and water benchmarking,” says Josef.

As the owners in what can undoubtedly be considered South Africa’s first sustainable green precinct, Melrose Arch, which was developed ahead of its time and before the formal green building wave began in South Africa, Amdec knows first-hand the benefits an environmentally sound foundation adds to green building. That’s because the green inner-workings of Melrose Arch support more than a single building, they underpin a whole precinct. It is here that Amdec has earned its two Green Star SA ratings: 40 on Oak was South Africa’s first multi-unit residential project certified under the Green Star SA system, with a 4-Star Green Star SA Pilot certification and The Worley Parsons TWP head office was awarded a 4-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design rating.

As part of its multiunit residential rating at 40 on Oak, Amdec cut energy consumption for each apartment by 50% and water consumption by 40% making the Melrose Arch apartments even more desirable. For the green rated office, it lowered energy consumption by 40% and water consumption by 50%. Melrose Arch will also play a leading role in its future targeted green star ratings, two of which have already been registered at GBCSA.

Melrose Arch is packed with ingenious designs and small, smart green touches that also create an enjoyable environment. It includes a central district cooling plant that utilised evaporative cooling so its buildings use less air conditioning than usual, it uses gas and has integrated recycling. Its mixed-uses and pedestrianisation reduces the need for cars, it also benefits from good access to public transport. In short, Melrose Arch is an enabling platform for sustainable buildings. It is this revelation that is inspiring Amdec to create even more environments that facilitate more green buildings

Josef tells that as companies transform the way they think about business, from being purely profit driven, to a paradigm that considers people, planet and profit, so property developers need to respond. “Blue-chip businesses want their markets to know they are doing the right thing, so occupying a green rated building is becoming a business imperative for them. Amdec is likeminded and answering the call for green rated buildings in South Africa, which has been recognised as the fastest responding country to green building in the world.”

Inefficient buildings stand to become obsolete faster, being less sustainable and Josef highlights that green buildings make for happy tenants too. “They boost productivity and profitability by creating healthy workspaces that also mean lower absenteeism. So they are commercially desirable.” Developing macro plans for green precincts can help deliver more green buildings, and bigger positive impacts.

“In fact, we are considering taking our next R4 billion mega development of a 128,000ha mixed-use suburb in Port Elizabeth, entirely off the grid,” says Josef. With soaring energy costs, clients across Amdec’s portfolio of assets, including its Evergreen Lifestyle Villages, enjoy the benefits of Amdec’s energy-efficient, water-efficient and cost-efficient focus.  Amdec’s approach to green building goes beyond active green building technologies, also incorporating more subtle elements of green building in design and orientation. Of course, the commercial sustainability of a building is essential, and is typically at the forefront of every developers mind. It is fundamental to pushing the green button for a project.

For existing buildings, Josef explains that Amdec has prioritised getting ratings for single-tenants buildings. “Then we’ll move on to our multi-tenanted buildings, which can be more challenging,” says Josef. For Amdec, its green building ethos is simply good business. “With our sustainability initiatives, we’re not only helping the positive transformation of South Africa  through quality green buildings, we’re also up-skilling  and educating people, and applying innovative thinking to build better communities, like using material from construction excavation to rehabilitate a public park,” says Wilson.

Source: E-Prop


GREEN BUILDING is rapidly becoming the norm for new large building projects. As awareness, price and environmental pressures rise, so too has the demand for sustainable office and commercial space. New design strategies, building materials, and approaches are contributing to an ever more innovative and rapidly changing built environment. Get the latest thinking, perspectives, case studies, and projects as they unfold in multiple presentations and interactive discussions at the 9TH ANNUAL GREEN BUILDING CONFERENCE.
GREEN BUILDING is rapidly becoming the norm for new large building projects. As awareness, price and environmental pressures rise, so too has the demand for sustainable office and commercial space. New design strategies, building materials, and approaches are contributing to an ever more innovative and rapidly changing built environment. Get the latest thinking, perspectives, case studies, and projects as they unfold in multiple presentations and interactive discussions at the 9TH ANNUAL GREEN BUILDING CONFERENCE.

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49M launches first Business Energy Rating Index

49M, South Africa’s leading energy saving campaign has released a new Business Energy Rating Index for corporates, retail and industrial businesses. The index was launched with the aim of promoting energy efficiency among businesses across the country to ensure the development of sustainable business enterprises.

The 49M Business Energy Rating Index will measure the electricity consumption of South African companies in terms of various parameters, the first of which being the usable space (all under roof operations excluding garages and store rooms as per SANS1544) occupied by the company in its buildings and operations. This will provide an indication of the company’s relative energy efficiency, expressed as a function of electricity consumption per square metre of usable space.

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By calculating the energy rating of companies and listing them on an energy rating index, it becomes possible to establish trends of efficiency measures within various sectors. The index currently has 12 entries listed.

“For South Africa to be more energy efficient we need private and corporate citizens to do their bit. This inaugural index is aimed at establishing a national index reflecting the awareness and behaviour displayed by commercial and industrial businesses and their employees in matters relating to energy efficiency.”

“The Index uses a simple formula that is based on global standards. The index incorporates measures to be included in an organisation’s sustainability reports and will provide organisations with valuable engagement and reporting tools. We invite all organisations to participate in the inaugural 49M Business Energy Efficiency Behavioural Index,” says Pieter Pretorius, Eskom’s Acting General Manager, Strategic Marketing Initiatives and Brand, adding that participation is voluntary.

Additionally, Pretorius says all companies are invited to participate by providing accurate information on their usable operational space and their annual energy consumption. Companies that are already reporting on sustainability are also urged to participate.

The index will provide organisations with an additional reporting measure for sustainability reporting. Companies will also benefit through structured and assisted employee engagement. It is an opportunity to measure efforts made by organisations – against their industry counterparts, as well as the rest of the world,” Pretorius says.

The Index will be updated quarterly as more organisations provide information to participate. The Index is listed at

Source: All Africa


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Sub-Sahara Green Energy Gets A $250M Boost With Japan, Standard Bank Loan Deal

Green energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa will be the beneficiaries of a US$250-million loan agreement between Standard Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Standard Bank announced today.

The credit line will be co-financed by Mizuho Bank, Ltd, with Japan Bank providing a partial guarantee for the co-financed portion.

The funding will be used by Standard Bank to lend to green energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a prepared statement by Standard Bank.

Ben Kruger, CEO Standard Bank Group, signed the deal with Akira Ishikawa, Japan Bank chief representative, London, at Standard Bank’s new green building in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The green building industry in South Africa has grown tremendously over the last few years, according to Jarrod Lewin with the Green Building Council of South Africa. The country has about 1 million square meters (1.07 billion square feet) of green building space.

“The green building movement is about 7 years old,” Lewin said in a CNBC Africa interview. “We started out with one-to-four buildings and we have grown exponentially year-on-year to about 60 this year.”

Initially, energy efficiency drove the green building movement, but now it’s more about about “awareness around environmental and social governance issues,” said Grahame Cruickshanks, manager for climate change and sustainability services for green buildings at Ernst & Young, according to CNBC Africa.

Standard Bank’s new green building in Rosebank opened in 2013, and it used a gas powered tri-generation plant — South Africa’s second — to produce energy simultaneously for lighting, heating, and cooling.

Tri-generation is expensive, EngineeringNews reported. It didn’t hurt that an existing Egoli Gas main gas line ran past the property, according to InfrastructureENE. Gas made commercial sense in light of sustained electricity price hikes in South Africa.

More than 60 percent of the Standard Bank building is recycled steel, according to Standard Bank. It uses automatic lighting that can detect human presence. Twenty percent of materials used in construction and all furnishings and fittings were sourced from less than 400 kilometers (248 miles) away to reduce fuel used for transportation to the site. Rainwater harvested off the roof reduces the need for potable water by 50 percent, according to Standard Bank.

Standard Bank CEO Kruger said the transaction with Japan Bank is significant for the Standard Bank Group.

“It provides a diversified funding platform to fund projects which are environmentally and socially sustainable, as well as providing alternative green sources of energy to the grid, not only in South Africa, but also in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “This ties into the overall objectives of the group to fund projects in Africa in the renewable energy sector.”

Standard Bank Group’s largest shareholder is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, with a 20.1-percent shareholding.

Source: AFK Insider



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Green Investment Bank to invest in projects in India, South Africa

Green Investment Bank (GIB) today announced a pilot project to fund overseas ventures in renewable energy sector to the tune of 200 million pounds (approximately Rs 1,800 crore) in India, South Africa and east African nations.

“GIB will initially target three regions East Africa, South Africa and India… (and) will focus on investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” the bank said in a statement.
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The pilot project will involve British Pound 200 million of investments, it said, adding the proposal would be in addition to GIB’s allocation of 3.8 billion pound for UK projects.

The bank will be investing in green projects on commercial terms and mobilising additional private sector capital, the statement said.

GIB, which submitted a written statement to the House of Commons in the morning, said that it will begin the process of finalising the programme details and identifying suitable investment opportunities.

“This important new pilot programme will see GIB investing outside the UK for the first time. I am confident that our unique business model, tried and tested in the UK, will have a very positive effect in developing countries, helping them to build vital new green energy infrastructure,” said Shaun Kingsbury, bank’s chief executive.

Source: Economic Times


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South Africa: How green is ‘officially’ green?

Given the threat of both an energy and water crisis, President Jacob Zuma has encouraged the private sector to “go green”, with government now looking to increase the energy efficiency incentives on offer. But how green do you have to go to be considered officially green, and how will this be measured and rated?

“Support for green initiatives was also stated in the budget speech, but I believe that businesses still find themselves in an uncertain position as to what it is they’re supposed to do,” says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Wilkinson adds: “The possibility of incentives for greater efficiency will certainly encourage more green buildings initiatives. But, there will need to be a clear measure of efficiencies for government to confidently and consistently award these incentives.

Businesses especially will now more than ever be looking for solutions to bring about reductions in operation and facilities management costs in light of, for example, Eskom’s recent announcement that they would be appealing for an additional 9,5% increase on electricity costs over and above the already approved 12%. Sustainable solutions are desperately sought.

“Green has become a new buzz word with many businesses and service providers claiming to be sustainable in their offering and operations. This focus on green building has demonstrated the need for a rigorous, standardised system that rates just how green projects are with tangible results to back up these claims. “

Fortunately, this system is already in place with the GBCSA’s Green Star SA rating tools.

“With these tools we can not only guarantee that businesses live up to their green building claims, but also assist with their endeavours to minimise their carbon footprint,” says Wilkinson. “With happier, healthier employees and existing of evidence significantly reduced operations and maintenance costs at greener buildings, the benefits of a Green Star SA rating are extensive.”

Building owners looking to achieve a Green Star SA rating can, together with their green building consultant, submit the necessary documentation to the GBCSA. “Independent assessors are employed to evaluate submissions and allocate points based on the green measures that have been implemented. Certification is awarded for 4-Star, 5-Star or 6-Star Green Star SA ratings,” Wilkinson explains.

Office, retail, multi-unit residential, public and education buildings, as well as existing commercial buildings are all catered for with rating tools designed specifically for the various projects. The GBCSA has also recently introduced a Green Star SA Interiors tool which focuses primarily on efficient maintenance and operations of interior fit-outs and caters for a broad range of tenancies, including office, retail and hospitality projects.

“With this tool the tenants have all the power, allowing each tenancy to have their own unique environmental design initiatives fairly and independently benchmarked. It rewards healthy, productive places to work which are less costly to operate and maintain and have a reduced environmental footprint,” he says.

For existing buildings, the Green Star SA – Existing Building Performance (EBP) tool covers the same environmental categories addressed in the Green Star SA new building tools but also places focus on the efficient operations and management of the building. This rating is only valid for a period of three years, to ensure the building is continually well operated and maintained and energy and water monitoring, management policies and plans are all required.

Wilkinson advises the most effective and simple starting point to check the performance of your building is the GBCSA’s Energy Water Performance (EWP) mini-tool. This tool benchmarks an office building’s energy and water consumption against an industry mean. So, if your asset compares poorly, you can be sure that investing in its electricity and water efficiency will bring worthwhile benefits to the building’s bottom line, attractiveness, and sustainability, and the environment too. While the EWP mini-tool makes up 40% of the EBP, it is also available as a separate certification.

“Green Star SA rating tools are comparable to those of other green building councils around the world, making them a reliable benchmark, not only across South Africa, but internationally too,” he says.

Source: African Environment



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Dealing with power-guzzling data centres

Data centres have for years been known to be excessive consumers of power, consuming up to 3% of all global electricity production, and roughly ten times more per square metre than the average office.

Previously, energy efficiency wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of an information technology (IT) organisation’s priority list, but rising power costs, and an ongoing need for more hardware and equipment as well as booming data consumption is changing the way data centre operators are planning and running their facilities.

This interview with Peter Greaves – Aurecon’s Expertise Leader, Data & ICT Facilities, explores why data centres consume so much energy; how design principles can help minimise a data centre’s energy needs; dealing with load-shedding; and possible future trends that may help reduce energy consumption.

As the uptake of data centres increases globally, there are rising concerns around the availability of electricity to support this trend. Why do data centres consume so much energy?

Data centres are complex environments that have been created to house IT equipment. Within these, the primary driver of energy consumption is the IT equipment itself. The IT equipment that supports a data centre includes communication systems, storage systems and other IT systems such as processors, server power supplies, network infrastructure and hardware, computers, Uninterrupted Power Supply and connectivity systems.

Most of the energy that is consumed within a data centre needs to pass through various stages of distribution before it can be used by IT systems. This energy is converted to heat, which is why these facilities require a significant amount of cooling.

As server densities continue to rise, cooling systems are under increased pressure in order to keep IT equipment and servers cool enough for them to operate efficiently. If temperatures or the humidity is too high, IT equipment can be damaged and tape media errors can occur.

There are a number of opportunities available that can help IT organisations and data centre developers optimise their energy consumption. What do these include?

Examples of these opportunities are the virtualisation and the use of ARM-based processors, which are designed to perform a smaller number of types of computer instructions so that they can operate at a higher speed. This provides outstanding performance at a fraction of the power. The technological development of both these options is making them a viable solution, but they are still outside of the remit of most data centre developers.

Good practical management of data centre space is still a suitable, basic way of reducing energy consumption. Making use of aisle containment systems, installing blanking panels into unused rack slots and providing brushed grommets into raised floor penetrations are all simple, yet effective energy saving methods that can be implemented but they are still forgotten in many smaller facilities.

Implementing aggressive power usage effectiveness (PUE) targets will also drive more energy saving initiatives and improvements within data centres. New facilities will find it easier to implement PUE targets as high efficiency equipment can be selected to reduce parasitic load requirements.

Implementing low PUE targets, such as energy efficient lighting, in existing facilities is also achievable, but it takes more financial backing and careful planning to realise. When equipment needs to be replaced, more energy efficient options can also be chosen, for example.

Cooling systems in data centres seem to be the largest power guzzler. Do you believe that more data centres could be using natural cooling and night cooling opportunities to save energy?

Free cooling opportunities are possible in many locations, including in South Africa, especially if the air temperature that is supplied is in line with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines (18°C-27°C).

With supply air temperatures of up to 27°C, we need outside air temperatures at 25°C or less in order to get significant benefits from free cooling. Data centre managers then need to decide whether they are going to use direct or indirect free-cooling. I tend to prefer indirect free-cooling via a heat wheel or heat exchanger as outside air contaminants or humidity levels do not restrict the use of free-cooling.

There’s definitely more opportunities to use this type of indirect free-cooling in certain areas of South Africa, particularly where the temperature falls below 19°C and the humidity is below 60 RH (relative humidity) for more than 2 500 hours per year.

Is running a data centre at a higher ambient temperature (than has been the norm to date) a practical option to reduce energy consumption that is needed for cooling?

Operators are still concerned about the efficiency of their data centres when they walk into a hot aisle. This perception, however, is gradually changing and people are becoming used to the idea that a hot aisle isn’t necessarily a problem.

Warmer data centres do pose a health and safety concern because anyone working in elevated temperatures cannot work for extended periods. Health and safety in warmer data centres can be managed by limiting the need to access the hot aisle, either through use of specific chimney type racks, or arranging all connections and operator works to be located in the cold aisle.

Elevated temperatures need some form of aisle containment in order to achieve optimal efficiency and this can cause problems for code compliances. Installing a sprinkler and gas suppression system can be problematic because enclosed aisles can create an extra layer of infrastructure with the associated costs.

How will load shedding – if it is implemented on an ongoing basis – affect data centres?

Load shedding will drive a greater level of reliance on the backup generator systems that are installed in data centres.

Facility operators will need to carefully manage fuel delivery protocols and facilities that have better supply chain management systems will run less risk once fuel demand ramps up. On-site fuel quantities will be a key asset with longer storage requirements becoming commonplace to deal with any local disruptions.

If load shedding is generally implemented, facilities with co-generation energy systems will become more viable as they will be able to reduce their cost base substantially in comparison to operators that are running exclusively on diesel supplies.

Older facilities that have standby rated generator systems will need to consider downgrading their generator capacity as they will effectively be running in prime or continuous operational modes, favouring facilities rated to the Uptime Institute (a standardised methodology used by data centres as a way to measure their performance and return on investment) as they will have been designed to cater for this requirement.

Can some activities in a data centre be timed to take place after peak hours?

It is possible for some users to schedule key processing tasks to occur on an overnight cycle, however, this is limited by the business type and probably isn’t a workable solution for most operators. Other options to consider include:

• Provision of energy storage systems may provide some ability to defer energy usage to off- peak periods;
• Larger battery strings could provide an alternative to diesel generation; however, continuous deep cycling of batteries will significantly reduce their lifespan, necessitating early change out;
• Use of capacitor banks may be a viable alternative to batteries. These banks could be charged overnight for progressive use throughout the day. As the level gets low, the engines could be kicked in to replace or supplement; and/or
• Cooling storage may be a more viable alternative to reduce the mechanical cooling loads; however, some form of free cooling would probably negate the benefit of this.

As data centres are largely run off UPSs, to what extent could solar power be used to keep the UPSs charged?

A lot of solar panels would be needed to reduce the amount of electricity from the grid that most data centres would need. The most likely application is to reduce the demand on the grid by a percentage.

Although solar energy could supply a data centre with energy, it would need to be ramped up to be usable by the UPS. At this time, I would be very hesitant to suggest that this is a potential solution due to the inherent unreliability of solar energy.

Big operators like Google, however, are making use of solar energy by establishing solar generation plants that offset their data centre usage on the grid. The use of small panel arrays coupled with battery storage could be used to reduce the parasitic loads on site that are non-critical such as fuel polishing, engine heaters, office air conditioning and lighting.

How do you think data centre design and development in South Africa will change in the future?

Data centres in South Africa are in the early, exciting stages of development. As such, owners and operators are in an advantageous position to integrate sustainable and, importantly, cost-effective energy solutions such as wind energy to significantly drive energy costs down.

If we look at what big operators are achieving overseas, then we are in the ideal position to start designing and developing more sustainable facilities.  For example, Google’s data centre in Hamina, Finland, is aiming to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral and it recently signed a deal with a wind farm operator in Sweden to power its Finnish facility with wind turbines.

Companies like Google are always looking for a competitive edge. They are looking for smarter solutions in their engineering for a variety of things including data centres, corporate headquarters and research and development facilities. Wind investment is just another competitive solution, but there are many more.

As South African data centres continue to develop, I predict that a growing number of operators will be more willing to tackle sustainability challenges head-on and incorporate more progressive solutions into their data centre designs and development.

Source: African Environment




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Energy Efficiency Forum for Cape Town’s Commercial Sector on 10th March

South Africa’s electricity supply shortage has reached crisis levels and it’s not going to go away soon. At the next meeting of the Energy Efficiency Forum, we will discuss options for commercial buildings and operations in this context. Sector players and experts will share their views, and be available for questions. The programme includes: panel discussion on way forward with small-scale embedded/renewable energy; a case study on the Hotel Verde’s performance and lessons learned as a green-designed building; updates from City of Cape Town, Eskom, Green Cape and SA Photovoltaic Industry Association, and resources and training opportunities.

The Forum is on 10th March 2015, from 08h30 for 09h00 until 12h00 at the West Campus Presentation Room at Old Mutual’s head office in Pinelands, Cape Town. Please also diarise later Forum meetings set for 11th August and 10thNovember 2015.

The current state of electricity has reached crisis levels and it’s not going to go away soon. At this Forum, we will discuss options for the commercial sector to deal with the crisis. Sector players and experts will share their views and be available for questions.

  • ENERGY UPDATES from Eskom, City of Cape Town, Energy Game-Changers & electricity tariffs 2015
  • DEPUTY MAYOR IAN NEILSON on ‘How can the City of Cape Town and the commercial sector work together to best address the electricity crisis’. (TBC)
PART 2: PANEL DISCUSSION on Way Forward with Embedded Energy – 10h05 to 11h15
  • PANEL INCLUDES: Black River Park, Cape Chamber of Commerce, City of Cape Town, Eskom, Green Cape and SA Photovoltaic Industry Association.


PART 3: CASE STUDY – 11h45 to 12h10

CASE STUDY: Hotel Verde – Living up to green building design expectations – Performance results & lessons learned.


NEWS & EVENTS: City’s electricity consumption, solar water heater sales, innovations, tools and resources, and forthcoming events and training opportunities.

FEEDBACK: Members rate this Forum and give feedback on key issues, and say what they want in future Forums.


The Energy Efficiency Forum  was established in 2009 by the City of Cape Town in collaboration with Eskom & South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA). It is currently co-funded by Old Mutual, and supported by other organisations. Membership is free. To join/RSVP, go to or contact Kyle Swartz at 021 487 2014 or


Energy Modelling in Buildings results from the Manenberg Civic Centre

By Jonathan Skeen

Modern property developers want buildings that are both more comfortable and more energy efficient. Balancing both of these requirements is a difficult challenge for the full project team. In the context of historically low energy prices, architects have placed less emphasis on the energy impacts of their design choices, while engineers have ensured thermal comfort by specifying heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment large enough to meet the worst case demand, regardless of the inherent energy efficiency of the overall building design.

Thus environmental concerns and electricity bills have not typically shaped the design process. As a result, building components – including building fabric, HVAC systems and lighting systems – have been developed compartmentally: with little in-depth interaction amongst the design team on how to improve the combined efficiency of the overall system. Consider, for example, the design of a building’s façade. Typically the realm of the architect, façade design affects daylight penetration into interior spaces. Improved daylight penetration reduces the amount of electric lighting required, and can cut the heating effect of interior light bulbs: reducing the energy use of HVAC systems which must counteract it.

Understanding the impacts of individual design choices requires a means of quantifying a myriad of knock-on effects under the full range of potential operating conditions. Energy modelling allows the design team to model and predict the effect of all design choices: from window sizes, to wall materials, to fan and chiller selections. It enables the development of a more integrated design, where structural elements and electrical and mechanical systems fit together more seamlessly, and are designed as a single energy-using system, rather than multiple parallel systems.

A variety of energy modelling software tools are available to South African design teams. The most effective and useful of these allow the user to simulate both thermal conditions and daylight penetration, under a dynamic range of external weather conditions. Software packages – such as DesignBuilder with EnergyPlus, AutoDesk’s web-based Green Building Design Studio, and Google SketchUp with the EnergyPlus add-in – allow users to visually represent their building designs and understand the manner in which they use energy. It is a field of software development that is rapidly progressing, with the power and usability of the available packages improving quickly.

These tools can provide strong, quantitative evidence on the cost benefit of various design interventions aimed at improving comfort and energy efficiency. Energy modelling during the development of a proposed public safety building in the US town of Raleigh, North Carolina (City of Raleigh, 2011) showed that a high performance façade (with wall U values of 0.391 and window shading coefficients of 0.322) would yield a 14.5% reduction in required cooling air volume, an 8.8% reduction in cooling plant load, and a 17.8% reduction in heating plant load, over an equivalent building meeting ASHREA3 energy standards (Heikin, 2011).

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Further analysis found that the financial impact of these changes would add just 0.54% to projected baseline costs. However, it was also found that the knock-on effects of improving the building envelope would ultimately lead to an overall building cost reduction. This is because the improved design would require smaller chillers and air-handling units, smaller heating and cooling pipes and pumping units, less equipment insulation, and would require less of the building space to be dedicated to HVAC plant. Furthermore, annual energy consumption was projected to fall by 5.2% relative to the equivalent ASHRAE building (Heikin, 2011).

Energy modelling and integrated design approaches, as well as the skills required to effectively apply them, are emerging in South Africa. To this end number of project management, architectural, and consulting engineering firms are engaging in projects with goals of sustainability and energy efficiency, while adopting the skills and tools needed to deliver comfortable, cost-effective and energy efficient buildings.

Many of these projects are aiming for accreditation by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), an organisation established in 2007 with the aim of developing a more sustainable local built environment. To this end the council has developed a series of ratings tools which address a variety of sustainability criteria, with a particular emphasis on energy use and renewable energy generation. To date the GBCSA has certified nearly twenty new South African buildings under its Green Star SA program, and has a growing list of upcoming projects (GBCSA, 2012).

The Manenberg CiviC CenTre

The new Manenberg Civic Centre was developed in line with the Green Star SA guidelines, and is currently undergoing assessment for a Green Star SA rating. The design team, led by architect Ashley Hemraj of the City of Cape Town – placed a heavy emphasis on sustainable energy use. As such, a number of interlinking design choices were taken in order to improve the overall, integrated energy efficiency of the building. Key interventions included:

  • The selection of insulating wall and roof elements, using novel systems such as thick sandbag walls.
  • Optimization of daylight penetration while avoiding excessive solar gain.
  • The use of efficient HVAC equipment, incorporating heat recovery technology.
  • The implementation of lighting controls and occupancy sensors.
  • The use of efficient bulbs, and the implementation of a ‘reduced’ lighting scope.
  • The use of solar water heaters.
  • The incorporation of a hybrid wind and solar PV renewable energy system.

Tasked with modelling the energy use of the building, Emergent Energy – a Cape Town consultancy specialising in renewable energy and energy efficiency – undertook a detailed analysis of these interventions using DesignBuilder with EnergyPlus. By simulating the building’s thermal conditions and electricity demand every ten minutes for a full year, they were able to develop a detailed picture of how each of the energy-using systems in the building would consume electricity under varying conditions.

As a baseline, a notional building model was also developed with the same overall shape and volume of the actual building, but with its building fabric, glazing, HVAC systems and lighting systems set according to the “SANS 204: Energy Efficiency in Buildings” standard (SABS, 2011)4. In parallel, high level modelling of the renewable energy systems was undertaken using the RETScreen software tool (RETScreen, 2012).

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Figure 5.1 compares the monthly electricity demand resulting from key energy users5 of three scenarios, namely: the notional SANS 204 compliant building, the actual building with no renewable energy; and the actual building with a 15kW solar PV array. Without the use of renewable energy systems, the building operators could have expected to use around 30% less electricity than the equivalent building meeting SANS 204 standards. With the PV system included, the saving increases to nearly 60% annually. This excludes the effect of the 5kW wind turbine which has also been installed at the centre, which can be expected to further reduce electricity consumption by approximately 5%.

The financial implications of the design interventions are significant. Assuming a standard commercial tariff for small power users in Cape Town, the building operators can expect to save around R50, 000 per annum on their large energy uses – a total reduction of approximately a third. With the introduction of renewable energy systems, this increases to well over R90, 000 per annum – or nearly two thirds of the total. Projected monthly electricity bills for the three scenarios are shown in Figure 5.2.

The results are a testament to the power of integrated design in matching hard engineering goals with the aesthetic, social and economic goals of the architects. Achieving the level of detail and accuracy required to properly assess the different interventions simply cannot be achieved using standard engineering calculations. Energy modelling, by comparison, can provide real economic impetus for more sustainable design choices, especially where the capital costs are high, and payoffs are not clearly understood.

Source: Sustainable Energy Resource Handbook Volume 3



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