HomeIndustry SectorsEnergy EfficiencyCorporate sustainability makes proven ‘cents’ at African Utility Week

Corporate sustainability makes proven ‘cents’ at African Utility Week

Investment firm Old Mutual’s water and energy efficiency programme, Creating a Sustainable Environment, has saved the company R11.2 million ($7.2 million) and cut energy consumption by 58% at one of its corporate buildings in Cape Town, South Africa.

The news was announced by Khiyam Fredericks, technical manager for corporate property management at Old Mutual, during a presentation at the African Utility Week held in Cape Town recently.

In his address, Fredericks pointed out the importance of corporate firms investing in sustainable measures, which will in turn positively impact on their business operations.

“Sustainability should be key in a company’s investments,” said Fredericks.

He gave a clear reference to how his company is benefiting from its R52 million ($33.5 million) efficiency programme being implemented at the firm’s 166,000sqm building, consisting of multiple corporate offices and a gym.

Sustainability calls for energy efficient programmes

Under the project, the company rolled out a series of energy efficiency programmes including the replacement of light bulbs with LEDs, installation of daylight harvesting and motion sensing lighting systems to reduce power consumption and costs.

The project also reduced the building’s air conditioning systems from 24 to five units and upgraded 34 escalators with smart and low power consuming models.

According to Fredericks, the developments have resulted in a decrease in the cost of electricity for the facilities comprising of seven separate buildings from R48.836 million ($31.3 million) in 2007 to R37.663 million ($24.2 million) in 2015.

Consumption has been reduced from 4.8 million kilowatt hours per month in 2007 to 2.8 million kilowatt hours per month in 2016.

A key indication that “sustainability makes cents,” added Fredericks referring to South Africa’s currency.

Renewable energy in the corporate field

Furthermore, the company is planning to deploy a solar energy generation project as a back-up system receiving electricity from Eskom’s grid supplied connection.

Phase one of the project will see the construction of a 1.4MW rooftop solar project to be installed atop the building’s car ports, whilst phase two will allow the development of a 2.5MW solar array on the buildings rooftop, ESI Africa has learnt.

The completion of the solar projects will pave the way for the company to support the adoption of electric vehicles to reduce employee’s carbon emissions and other office bearers at the site.

The company said it is also planning to grant its workers incentives to help them buy the electric vehicles.

Efficiency includes water and waste

In respect of water consumption, the deployed programme reduced the amount of water usage by 10% over the past two and a half years.

Before the launch of the project the building was using 50,000 litres of water a day, a level which has been reduced by the installation of aerators on all water taps and automatic diffusers to lower dependence of air conditioners on water.

The investment and banking firm is also recycling its sewerage for irrigation purposes to limit the amount of clean and treated water it uses from the local municipality.

However, besides the installation of various water and energy efficiency technologies, “your biggest challenge has to be behaviour change,” Fredericks pointed out.

To communicate with users on sustainable use of resources at the building, the firm implemented a number of customer engagement techniques such as management and visitor policy.

Twenty LED screens and a water and power usage dashboard were installed to monitor consumption as well as communicate with users.

The screens are utilised to make consumption of the resources clearly visible to all who are in the building. “Old Mutual has adopted a protocol of responsible business,” reiterated Fredericks.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.