Going green has never been easier – tipping point reached in SA

South African businesses lag their international counterparts in terms of
turning their buildings ‘green’ but a tipping point has been reached – going
green is today driven by a convincing mix of financial imperatives, adoption
of triple bottom line principles and moral conscience. Being late to migrate
to greener practices does have some advantages, however.

Says Philip Gregory, Senior Regional Executive – Middle East & Africa at
Johnson Controls’ Global WorkPlace Solutions: “There are proven methods,
approaches and practices to lean on, and demonstrable business benefits that
will allow executives to make a strong business case in terms of joining the
green building revolution.”

Possibly the most important considerations, however, are: understanding your
status, assessing long and short-term interventions, being able to measure
your progress, and ensuring you have the buy-in from staff.

Says Gregory: “Going green is more complex than just changing the light
bulbs. A formal analysis of your situation is possibly the most important
step. Get professional advice that the service provider is willing to stand
by. If you are going to invest, you need guarantees in terms of savings and
you need to know how to measure those savings.”

First steps

Says Karl van Eck, Africa Regional General Manager for Johnson Controls
newly formed Global Energy Solutions division, “The first step is to examine
your building’s equipment and operations to determine how your building
consumes energy, then identify opportunities to eliminate waste and increase
efficiency and develop a program to seize those opportunities.”

Typical improvements include enhancements to heating, ventilating and
air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting and electrical systems, control
systems, motors and pumps, and eliminating leaks and waste. “For example,”
notes van Eck, “most fan systems are oversized by 60% while chillers are
often 50-200% oversized.”
Opportunities include upgrading or replacing inefficient equipment,
installing high-efficiency lighting, and installing variable speed drive
chillers that operate up to 30 percent more efficiently than the industry
average, and geothermal heat pumps that heat and cool buildings more
efficiently than conventional HVAC systems.
Renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can
reduce your utility bills while providing clean, sustainable energy.
Deploying a building management system, which controls and integrates key
mechanical and electrical building systems – HVAC, lighting, security, fire
and safety – can help you optimise energy and operational efficiency,
comfort and safety.
“There are a number of ways to make your projects affordable,” notes van
Eck. “For example, performance contracting is a way to fund improvements by
using the energy and operational savings to offset the project costs.”
Johnson Controls does offer this option, funding the investment necessary to
achieve savings, then recouping the investment from an agreed percentage of
the savings. “We are fully invested in our clients’ success so we provide
ongoing support to help identify additional savings opportunities and
educate occupants on what they can do to conserve energy and water,” he
notes.
SABC goes green
A good local example of performance contracting is the energy saving being
achieved by SABC on the back of a retrofit by Johnson Controls. The
broadcaster implemented a five-year energy management project in 2005 that,
three years into the initiative, delivered operational savings of over R500
000 a month. In 2007, 23% energy savings were measured. In May 2010, savings
per month are at 5 281 738 kWhr, equating to approximately R900 000,00 per
month.

Explains Bruce Phipson, engineering manager at SABC: “In 2005, the SABC took
a strategic decision to reduce its energy consumption. At the time, our
electricity usage accounted for 25% of our operational costs. We considered
a number of alternatives but selected Johnson Controls’ proposal for its
depth and breadth of insight into our operations, their familiarity with our
systems and challenges, and the financial model they proposed.”

The retrofit, which included the refurbishment of plant equipment, (AHU and
chiller optimisation and scheduling, and the addition of variable speed
drives on chillers and pumps) the modernisation of approaches to energy
usage (lighting optimisation and scheduling) and the adaptation of control
processes, cost R 3,5m.

Empire State Building saves 38% more
Another example of how planning and forethought can deliver significant
green benefit is the retrofit that was done at the Empire State Building.
Explains Gregory: “The goal of the project is to make the Empire State
Building about 40 percent more energy efficient and significantly reduce
carbon emissions while providing an economic justification through return on
investment. Johnson Controls, as the energy services company, is executing a
broad range of renovations and retrofits to achieve these goals.

These improvements include refurbishing 6,500 windows with new components to
reduce the summer cooling load and winter heat loss; adding insulation
behind radiators to reduce winter heat loss and summer heat gain; upgrading
tenant and common area lighting with controls and sensors to lower
electricity costs and cooling loads; retrofitting chiller plants to improve
efficiency; introducing individualized Web-based power usage systems so
tenants can manage their power consumption more efficiently; installing of
one of the world’s largest digitally controlled wireless networks, enabling
24×7 monitoring and control of every steam valve, pump, louver, fan and
other elements of the building’s HVAC system; and integrating the Johnson
Controls Metasys building management system to monitor and optimize HVAC,
lighting, and other building systems.

To help ensure these efforts achieve the project’s goals, Johnson Controls
and the Empire State Building’s owners have entered into a performance
contract which guarantees the projected energy savings over the life of the
project. Says Gregory: “When the project is complete in 2013, the Empire
State Building will be more than 38 percent more energy efficient, placing
it among the top 10 percent of all office buildings in the United States for
energy efficiency of any age. These improvements will reduce carbon
emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years.

The building owners calculate their energy savings to be $4.4 million a year
with payback on their incremental investment in just three years. After
that, savings will continue to flow right to their bottom line, year after
year, making the building more profitable.

Concludes van Eck: “Buildings are both a significant cause of and a
potential solution to climate change and energy insecurity. The goal for any
building owner or occupant should be to start now to make a difference –
every tiny bit helps, and it begins with increased awareness. Buildings that
work benefit owners, occupants, and their communities. They operate
efficiently and profitably and provide comfortable, safe living and work
spaces – minimising the negative impact on the environment.

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