WesBank and First National Bank’s (FNB’s) 150 000 m2 campus, based in Fairland, Johannesburg, has officially switched on 7 647 reflective photovoltaic cells across 1 010 parking bays, helping reduce the campus’s carbon footprint by 2 700 t/y.
At peak efficiency, this system can generate 1.99 MW.
The companies initiated the project in 2015, after commissioning a feasibility study to establish the possibility of replacing ageing carports with solar panels.
“This approach has provided more employees with covered parking and has also benefited the planet and local community by lowering carbon emissions and strain on the electrical grid,” said WesBank CEO Chris de Kock at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Power from the solar panels is routed through 83 km of DC cabling, where power is stored across 83 DC-to-AC inverters.
“Flipping the switch on a new era for our landmark building is very exciting. We have passionate people working to reduce our carbon footprint wherever possible, using innovative solutions along the way,” he said.
De Kock added that the financial institutions’ move to renewable, sustainable energy comes at a time when the motor industry is facing similar challenges.
“This year marks a decade since FNB and WesBank occupied the Fairland building. During this time, we have been hard at work to come up with energy efficient solutions to power this site,” said FNB home loans CEO Marius Marais.
He noted that the switch to solar power had far-reaching implications, most importantly that the companies had eased the load on the mainstream grid.
The solar panel installation is one of WesBank and FNB’s initiatives to earn a 5-Star rating for its Fairland campus from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
Other existing measures to reduce the impact on the environment include population density sensors that power off lights when no human activity is detected, solar heating for the water circuits in ablution facilities and sun screens on the exterior of the building, which provide insulation and improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
Also speaking at the event, GBCSA CEO Dora Modise said that it was great to see tangible action regarding sustainability efforts on the ground by key stakeholders.
“We see you as a partner in the green building movement, especially when it comes to transforming the built environment,” she said.