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Tuesday, 08 October 2013 14:41

Umngena Ndlini, or lessons learnt from a GIZ study tour

Umngena Ndlini, an expression in isiZulu describing valuable experience, lessons learnt and the intent of cooperation in the future came up among the ten South African delegation members in the wrap-up session of a study tour to Germany. The one week study tour focussed on good practice and policies for energy efficient buildings in Germany and specifically on Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for buildings.

Display and features of energy-efficient buildings in Germany

 The South African delegation visiting the Efficiency House Plus in Berlin. (Source: GIZ)

Umngena Ndlini . . . is used in Zulu when an older person or parent comes back home from a long journey with news of the faraway place visited, or when a messenger arrives bearing gifts and regards from another place. The phrase describes something tangible that was brought back home – it is a sign of good travels, learning and intent of cooperation in the future, beyond the theoretical.

Umngena Ndlini, an expression in Zulu describing valuable experiences, lessons learnt and the intent of cooperation in the future, came up among the ten South African delegation members in the wrap-up session of a study tour to Germany. The one-week study tour focussed on good practice and policies for energy-efficient buildings in Germany and specifically on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for buildings.

The tour was organised in September 2013 by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) as part of the South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN).

Representatives from the Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Public Works (DPW), South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), South African National Accreditation System (SANAS), Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) attended the tour.

Energy Performance Certificates have become mandatory for all new buildings and major refurbishment projects in European Union (EU) member states as a requirement of the European Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

In Germany, EPCs must be displayed in public buildings with a net floor area of more than 500m2, and must provide information on the energy consumption or energy demand of a building. The result is expressed in kWh/(m2·a) and has become an internationally accepted formula that states energy demand or consumption in kilowatt hours per square metre (of net floor area) per year.

The figure allows a prospective tenant or buyer to benchmark the energy performance of a building against reference values of similar buildings. The energy performance is displayed with a sliding scale indicator ranging from zero energy buildings (0kWh/m2·a) to (360kWh/m2·a) for very inefficient buildings.  

The South African delegation met a number of German institutions that have been involved in the roll-out of the German EPC programme, such as the German Energy Agency (Dena), the German Development Bank (KfW) and the Institute for Housing and Environment (IWU) to discuss challenges and impacts of EPC introduction into a country.

German experience reveals that the requirements of the German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) have led to significant energy-efficiency improvements in both retrofitted and new buildings. Funding programmes offered by KfW, which include bonuses for better energy performance, have stimulated the construction business and the economy as a whole. At the same time, communication to the public on differences between the demand-based and the consumption-based EPC remains a challenge and often led to confusion among the public and residential EPC users.

  Development of legal requirements for the energy performance of buildings in Germany. (Source: Fraunhofer, kfw)

One of Germany’s most interesting pilot programmes in energy-efficiency in recent years is the Efficiency House Plus, a model house that features prominently what buildings of the 21st century are technically capable of and could look like in the future.

This compact two-storey building with a net floor area of 147m2 generates more energy than it consumes and its annual energy performance on the EPC would actually turn from consumption into a surplus. This surplus of energy is stored or used to charge electric vehicles in front of the building. It utilises the sun as a power source in two different ways: Solar cells on the roof and facades generate electricity from sunlight, and an air-water-heat pump uses outside air to generate hot water.

However, existing buildings remain the main challenge in order to tap the efficiency potential of the building sector. The delegation visited the Hubertus Hospital in Berlin that achieved more than 30% energy savings annually through a guaranteed savings contract with an energy service company (ESCo). Most interventions and investments were carried out in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC). A frequency converter, hydraulic conversion in HVAC and steam supply and a new CHP/cogeneration plant led to annual CO2 reductions of 2 600 to 3 000t.

The study tour provided much food for thought to the delegation and could impact on the first South African energy performance certificate, which is expected to be ready for public buildings next year.

Features of the Efficiency House Plus pilot building in Berlin, Germany:

• Highest level of compact design.

• Maximisation of energy gains and minimisation of thermal loss through the building shell.

• Optimisation of the HVAC appliances without any loss of comfort for its inhabitants.

• Coverage of energy needs by renewable, locally generated energy.

• Tested by a four-member family under real conditions for 15 months.

• Measured generation (2012/2013): 13 306kWh.

• Measured consumption (2012/2013): 12 400kWh.

The South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN) is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is a federal enterprise that supports the German government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development.

 

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Registered offices: Bonn and Eschborn

GIZ Office Pretoria

PO Box 13732, Hatfield, 0028 Pretoria, South Africa

Tel: +27 12 423 5900

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Website: www.giz.de