Govt buildings to go ‘green’

23 July 2003

The government will save millions of rands on electricity bills once its buildings have been upgraded and connected to various energy-saving technologies.

In a move to relieve growing energy demands on Eskom, the electricity utility’s head, Thulani Gcabashe, on Tuesday handed a R20-million cheque to Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to use in introducing government departments to energy-efficient technologies.

Already, the department of minerals and energy, the National Electricity Regulator and Eskom are said to be saving more than R1-million per annum on electricity by using a lighting system that is energy-efficient.

In terms of the new move, authorities will replace all incandescent lamps in government buildings with compact fluorescent lamps over the next few weeks as part of the campaign to make government buildings “green”.

Compact fluorescent bulbs are said to be up to 80 percent more efficient than the conventional incandescent type.

According to the Minerals and Energy department, a countrywide efficient lighting programme could save 4.8Gl (4.8 billion litres) of water annually. Carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 3.6Mt (3.6 thousand tons) per year, and other pollutants would be reduced significantly.

Speaking in Pretoria on Tuesday, Gcabashe said Parliament in Cape Town and the Union Buildings in Pretoria would be the first to have the environmentally friendly lighting installed.

Gcabashe said the minerals and energy department would use the money to conduct a full energy audit in the Union Buildings.

“The more energy we use, the more energy needs to be generated. The result is that more power stations need to be built, which will inevitably result in the consumer having to bear the cost,” he added.

It is feared that Eskom’s excess peaking load capacity, based on the average 2.5 percent annual increase in demand, will be depleted by 2007. Even the daily demand will exceed current capacity by 2010.

This could have serious consequences for the economy, as the energy sector contributes 15 percent per annum to the gross domestic product and employs more than 250 000 people.

As a first step towards addressing the challenge, Eskom is focusing on energy-efficiency programmes to reduce consumption levels, including exploring options such as clean energy and renewable sources of energy.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said her department is considering introducing laws to compel manufacturers of electrical products to carry an advisory note informing consumers on ways to operate their household appliances using energy as efficiently as possible.

“The efficient use of our existing energy resources must become a way of life for South Africa”, she said.

Source: BuaNews