Supplied by Emira Property Fund
Emira Property Fund (JSE: EMI) completed the certification of 31 of its buildings for energy performance in July 2022 to become fully compliant with the new government-mandated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations well ahead of the 7 December 2022 deadline.
On 8 December this year, the Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings in terms of the National Energy Act come into effect. In essence, the new legislation means that specific commercial buildings must have EPCs. This includes public sector buildings of more than 1,000sqm and private sector buildings bigger than 2,000sqm. Building types include offices, schools and tertiary institutions, places of public assembly, indoor sport and theatres.
The EPC must be displayed in the foyer of each mandated building and submitted every five years to the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Based on energy performance, which is defined as net energy consumed in kilowatt-hours per square metre a year, they are graded on their efficiency from A to G, with A-grade certifications being the most efficient.
“Emira moved early to certify its buildings, and we are pleased to have ensured compliance with this new regulation well before the deadline. In line with our good governance, we will be voluntarily certifying a further 23 non-mandated buildings by 31 March 2023, which is consistent with our commitment to best practices, carbon reduction and the environment,” says Ulana van Biljon, COO of Emira Property Fund.
She adds that while EPCs are becoming compulsory, they are, first and foremost, a valuable decision-making tool for property owners. They provide insight into the energy-saving potential of a building and are particularly helpful when investing in and implementing projects aimed at reducing the energy consumption of buildings and property portfolios.
“Knowing a building’s energy performance supports good property and environmental decisions,” notes van Biljon.
Emira’s commitment to the environment is evident throughout its portfolio and its operations. It is active in increasing renewable energy and water efficiency, reducing waste and pollution and promoting biodiversity and positive ecological impact.
In the year from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, Emira reduced its total emissions by 3.8% to lighten its carbon footprint. Supporting this, it reduced grid electricity usage by 2.0% with 79 different energy efficiency projects, including installing solar power that increased its renewable energy production by 16%, as well as converting to LED lights at its properties and upgrading its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
This SA REIT has turned to solar power to support a green power supply to its buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. It has increased its installed capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and now has solar panels at nine properties. Its latest solar PV installation is at the prime office asset, Knightsbridge Block A in Bryanston, Johannesburg, which has become one of the first Net-Zero Carbon buildings in South Africa and was first building to get an EPC in the Emira portfolio. In the year to 30 June 2022, Emira’s PV farms saved 9.9 million kWh and removed 10 543tCO2e emissions annually.
The REIT remains focused on growing its clean solar-powered energy installations to improve energy efficiency and reduce its environmental footprint and the strain on the national grid in light of the increasingly uncertain electricity supply from Eskom. The expansion of its Pretoria Wonderpark Shopping Centre system of 1.6MWp (DC) to 2.8 MWp (DC) will boost its positive environmental impacts. Emira’s solar farms also position it to feed power back into the grid.
But Emira’s clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives are not its only areas of positive environmental impact. Its water efficiency initiatives saved 151,080KL. Working with nature, not against it, by enhancing biodiversity, Emira has installed beehives at a number of properties and recently launched a Spekboom project, helping to plant more of these hardy indigenous plants, celebrated for their ability to remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.
Geoff Jennett, CEO of Emira, says, “At Emira, providing great real estate is also about managing our carbon footprint, improving affordable and clean energy, implementing integrated waste and recycling plans, water management and water harvesting projects and safeguarding biodiversity. Our energy and other environmental initiatives provide greener, more enjoyable and productive environments for our tenants.” “Approaching energy efficiently and renewably is part of our core environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations that are at the heart of the way Emira acts as a responsible landlord. We drive our positive impacts forward with specific targets and initiatives to give substance to our ESG commitments. The excellent results of our EPC project, which sees us being fully compliant earlier than required, demonstrates the depth and diligence of our commitment,” says Jennett.