South African small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) are not properly informed about measures that are required to create greener and energy efficient businesses, says facilities management company Servest.
Servest Group COO Steve Wallbanks tells Engineering News that this is mostly because, despite there being a wealth of information about climate change – which is inaccurate at times – businesses do not have the required skills to assess the information and progress to implementation.
“While the market is flooded with energy saving products, there is very little credible research available on how to use them effectively to accelerate green initiatives,” says Wallbanks. He advises that SMMEs should invest in research and in acquiring thoroughly trained and skilled people to head their green initiatives, adding that companies should not rush into buying products, systems and equipment that are said to be environmentally friendly and enhance energy efficiency without thoroughly verifying these claims through independent specialists.
He says current trends in the country indicate that green building is becoming the norm for many large-scale international corporates, while SMMEs are adopting a short-term outlook, as they regard “green building” as expensive.
“There is a disconnect between the actual cost and the perceived cost of green building – a short-term outlook will indicate that it is expensive, while it is actually cheaper in the long run.
“For instance, if the construction of a build- ing without provisions for environment-friendly systems costs R10 with a payback period of ten years, while a green building costs R20 with a payback period of 20 years, companies will save more on replacement and maintenance costs in the green building over the 20-year period than they would on the [conventional] building,” explains Wallbanks.
He adds that companies should be aware that most green initiatives result in cost savings for businesses in the long term, as fewer energy-consuming systems and appliances are used, with the added benefit of reducing a company’s carbon footprint.
“SMMEs should install energy management systems – such as a clock system that is set to switch lights on and off at predetermined times – to monitor and reduce energy use, which can also apply to nonessential appliances that are not used during off-peak times. “Ultimately, these measures can also reduce the company’s carbon emissions,” highlights Wallbanks.
South Africa will initiate preparations for the roll-out of the first phase of the carbon tax in August, which entails the taxing of corporates for their carbon emissions.
The carbon tax will be rolled out in two phases – the first phase will start on January 1, 2015, and continue to December 31, 2019. The second phase will be rolled out on January 1, 2020, when the tax rate will be revised and previously excluded sectors will be included.
Botswana Hospitals Project
Servest is running a project at various Botswana State hospitals, where it is monitoring energy use and developing strategies that will help reduce energy use at these hospitals. Further, it is helping to build new green hospitals.
“We are installing energy monitoring and reduction systems at all Botswana government hospitals. Our engineers are monitoring the energy use and we will convey our recommendations, which also include energy savings on air conditioning and other appliances, in a report to the Ministry of Health, which the country can also use as a benchmarking tool in the construction of new hospitals,” says Wallbanks.
The project started in September last year and Wallbanks says Servest expects to have completed its first report in a month’s time.