A research study has identified an increase in green buildings from 16% in 2012 to 52% by 2015 in South Africa.

In South Africa, the current energy situation matched with the growing electricity demand is in need of practical solutions to secure the energy sector’s future. This was stressed by Valerie Geen, Head of Energy at the National Business Initiative (NBI), who addressed a diverse mix of industry stakeholders at a Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) conference earlier this week.

Geen noted that these solutions need to be strategically developed in order to manage this limited resource in a sustainable and efficient manner, a challenge for both the private and public sectors.

Driving energy efficiency

The PSEE programme, which was developed by the NBI, identified over 4,630 energy efficiency opportunities in 742 companies across the country within two years.

For these companies, this amounts to the total potential annual and lifetime savings of 1,027 and 11,809 GWh respectively.

De-carbonising the sector

Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was represented at the conference by Ompi Aphane, DDG: Energy policy and planning, who said: “On the eve of the Climate Change Summit held in Copenhagen, President Zuma announced our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 42% by 2025.

“This was to be done in the context of a comprehensive, fair and effective legal binding multilateral agreement that delivers financial and technology support for our action.”

Green buildings

Geen cited the United Nations Environment Programme, which estimates that 60% of the world’s total energy consumption comes from residential and commercial buildings. She added that the building sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

With attempts to curb the release of GHG, South Africa’s Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has certified an estimated 100 buildings since 2007.

Geen said: “Government is following global trends through its implementation of the SANS 10400–XA regulations that were added to the National Building Regulations for Energy Usage in Buildings in 2011 to improve the energy efficiency of our country’s buildings.

“SANS 10400-XA outlines that buildings should be designed and constructed in such a manner that they are capable of being energy efficient while fulfilling user needs in relation to vertical transport (if any) thermal comfort, lighting and hot water.

She added: “The regulations also focus on services, which facilitate the efficient use of energy appropriate to their function and use, internal environment and geographical location.”

Energy efficiency contributes to bottom line

In 2014, the Investment Property Databank together with the Green Building Council of SA conducted a research study, which identified an increase in green buildings from 16% in 2012 to 52% by 2015.

Should this remain consistent, the trend could continue to increase, where the country sees more green buildings being developed.