Minister Uys Releases Results of Energy Audit on Provincial Government Buildings
Minister Uys has given a number of practical tips on energy efficiency and called on every person to flick the switch off when electricity is not needed. He was speaking at a briefing on the results of an energy audit that was conducted on major provincial government buildings.
The audit pointed out that computers (34%), air conditioning (26%) and lighting (25%) guzzles the bulk of electricity in public buildings. The provincial government is however putting in place various measures to reduce its use, conserve and optimisethe use of power in these buildings.
Some of these include lights in buildings being replaced with Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and energy efficiency bulbs installed on a continuous basis. 9 Dorp Street has been fully fitted with 338 audio sonic occupancy sensors to monitor staff movement and regulate the consumption of energy by switching off when nobody is in the office. Other changes include retrofitting 24 board rooms and the systematic placement of film on windows to retain the natural heat during winter and deflect the heat during the summer season.
Government institutions occupy many buildings in the Western Cape. It was therefore necessary that the Provincial Government of the Western Cape consider energy consumption in these buildings. In light of the above, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning conducted the energy audit. The findings assisted the Department to identify practical solutions to addressing the challenge of energy efficiency in these buildings.
As part of an energy efficiency drive progressive changes to the buildings were effected prior to the energy audit and in response to the results. These changes have been funded using the building maintenance budget.
The initiative to save energy has now created a ripple effect to addressing the impact of climate change in various other areas such as water efficiency and waste management. The Department has taken the lead to drive green initiatives which encompass aspects of energy efficiency and waste management.
Programmes such as the 2Wise2Waste Campaign focuses on creating awareness to internal staff about issues of waste management and water and energy efficiency. This initiative is managed and monitored by 21 Floor Champions to focus on influencing the behaviour of staff.
The continuous monitoring and evaluation of the various initiatives are important to making sure that energy and water saving as well as waste management becomes a way of life. Other recommendations will include the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Committee to put into operation the recommendations to reduce the overall energy consumption.
Efficient interventions could be self funding from the savings made over time.
These initiatives also provide an indication to seriously consider the design of buildings, and the future procurement of energy efficient equipment for our offices. A recently refurbished Board Room at 4 Dorp Street is characterized as being a green eco-friendly venue as materials such as bamboo have been used for the construction of ceiling coverings, countertops and signage. Wool carpeting has been fitted as the material is both durable and eco-friendly.
Minister Uys has stated that government is committed to energy efficiency as this is one of the mitigation/adaptation measures under the recently launched Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan.
Addressing the challenges of climate change is, and will continue to be a strategic priority for the Department. Energy efficiency, the development of renewable energy resources and cleaner fuel programmes have been identified as catalytic initiatives to address the inevitable effects of climate change.
"It is all about saving our planet, by reducing and offsetting the carbon emissions and other greenhouse gasses due to the use of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution. We all have a role to play to get ready for accelerated global warming, no matter how insignificant it may seem. If we all save a little, it would add up and ultimately slow down the process of climate change," Minister Uys says.
The energy audit is part of the awareness process to determine the actual use of energy in these buildings, set a bench mark for savings, to accurately monitor the future use and to raise the levels of conscious savings.
"Government will lead by example. We do need every citizen to take up the challenge to save energy and use it better. Using energy optimally does make sense economically, but also environmentally. Working together we will reduce wastage and contribute towards leaving a better environment to generations to come," Minister Uys says.
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