Green Buildings Framework: Public Works briefing with Deputy Minister

Public Works and Infrastructure

11 August 2015
Chairperson: Mr F Adams (ANC) Acting
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works apologised for his inability to attend the meeting and was replaced by a member his political party, with the approval of Members of the Committee.

The Department of Public Works presented its report on the Green Building Programme, instead of the originally scheduled adoption of the Expropriation Bill clause by clause.

The Green Building Programme relied on the 1997 international Kyoto protocol and was shaped by its interaction with the Department of Energy and the Department of Environmental Affairs, from its creation in 2011.

The programme relied on a framework actively promoting the discovery of opportunities in terms of green buildings, the consolidation of its establishments and the enhancement of human rights and socio-economic realities. It also referred to the importance of research and skills development.

The programme’s past audits and projects achieved substantial energy saving associated with public expense saving, yet the national treasury had ceased allocation since 2012.

It was part of the governmental effort for sustainable development as the integration of social, economic and environmental factors to ensure that development served present and future generations, focusing particularly on water, energy and food nexus.

Questions from Members included: how much money was spent in each sector prior and after the savings achieved? Is load-shedding counted as form of saving? What measure were being implemented in order to address the lack of skills in the field of green energies? How does the Department cooperate with municipalities? Is international cooperation with European states developed on equal and mutual terms? Why did the presentation only referred to cases of wealthy and developed metropolis? How were the alleged savings calculated?

Additional remarks focused on the lack of contextualisation of the energy and capital saved, the potential bias underlying international cooperation, the only partial implementation of ‘smart meters’ as well as their costs and precise origins, the transformation of the Parliament building to match green criteria.

The Deputy Minister of Public Works indicated that the process of saving’s evaluation was of complicated nature, emphasised by load-shedding shall be excluded from it at all times and yet bore an overlooked impact through generators. Private financial institutions were completing the subventions underlying green buildings’ transformations. Green buildings must become central pillars of the property management sector.
 

Meeting report

Due to the absence of the Chairperson, Mr F Adams (ANC) was elected as Acting Chairperson. He noted that the Department would present its report on the Green Building Programme, instead of the originally scheduled adoption of the Expropriation Bill.

Mr M Dlamini (EFF) asserted that his presence at the Committee meeting could only be justified by the discussion of important matters, and thus left the venue.

The Chairperson expressed his surprise in the face of such behaviour, praising the importance of the matter on the agenda.

Green Buildings Framework (GBF): Department of Public Works (DPW) briefing
Mr Butcher Matutle, DPW Deputy Director General (DDG): Regional Coordination, emphasised the relevance of the GBP to the general efforts of the Department, noting that the presentation would address the programme’s past, present and future.

Ms Pinkie Modisane, Chief Director, Facilities and Property Management, at the DPW, provided an appraisal of the GBP’s framework and draft policy, which sought national and provincial cooperation. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Framework Convention of 1997 was an overarching guideline, while additional guidance included the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) National Climate Change Response White Paper, the Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Efficiency Strategy, and previous policies developed by DPW itself.

She stated that the Minister of Public Works had launched the GBP in 2011, as the result of dual research input developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), namely the International Review on Sustainable Building (IRSB) and the National Imperatives to be addressed through sustainable building. The GBP moreover ought to be implemented through a Built Environment Green Economy Programme (BEGEP), encompassing rating tools, energy and water efficiency, sustainable wastes, social cohesion interventions, building retrofitting and eco-labelling of building processes and material.

She described the objectives of the framework as to proactively inform and support development of green building plans and programmes, to identify opportunities and threats to green building, to identify key strategic areas to meet national requirements, to integrate and consolidate principles of green building across areas regions and sectors, as well as to focus on enhancement of human settlements and social cohesion and to integrate the concept of green building into immovable asset formation in South Africa.

The framework ought to be used by all organs of state and to develop progressive refinement of policies, programmes and action plans, the development of national green building indicators and the setting of national green building standards and guidelines. It intended introducing green building skills development and training programmes, and enhance research and development of capacity on green building.

With regards to previous GBP achievements, Pretoria was described as having saved for the periods of 2003 to 2010 and 2010 to 2020, respectively 1 147 608 kilowatt-hour (Kwh) valued at R311 973 659 and 101 770 824 Kwh worth R36 203 787, as the result of the project’s audit and retrofit on 104 sites. Between 2000 and 2010 Johannesburg saved 108 641 210Kwh worth R 46 629 107 through the GBP’s addressing of 24 sites comprising of 600 buildings with the subsequent energy savings. The energy audits on 15 sites comprising of 375 buildings in Bloemfontein between 2003 and 2010 resulted in the saving of 55 973 806 km/h of a value of R26 372 777. Energy audits on 39 sites resulted in Cape Town between 1997 and 2009 and 2011 to date in the respective savings of 269 502 386 km/h worth R45 582 418 and of 1 997 673 Kwh of a value of R7 116 241.

Ms Modisane explained that the last National Treasury allocation to the GBP had occurred in 2011/12 with the transfer of R70 million to Independent Development Trust (IDT) for energy efficient projects.

She stated that the DPW had appointed the IDT to implement the Energy Efficiency Programme (EEP), the latter aiming at reducing the electricity consumption at selected DPW facilities through a targeted energy efficiency intervention, focusing on Eastern Cape with 60 facilities, Mpumalanga with 30 facilities and Northern Cape with 30 facilities. Energy efficiency intervention had focused primarily on lighting and remote metering at various state-owned facilities. She described the achievement of this GBP initiative as having resulted in the saving of 15 844 748 Kwh in Eastern Cape, 8 730 799 Kwh in Mpumalanga and 12 104 908 Kwh, with respective values of R21 783 309, R10 007 521 and R11 558 490. This was partly consequential to the GBP’s engagement with Electricity Supply Commission (ESKOM) Demand Management rebate programme whereby ESKOM funded 70% of the retrofit for commercial public buildings and DPW paid 30% for the total retrofit which will derive more benefit for state properties.

With regards to the draft of the green building policy, she defined sustainable development as the integration of social, economic and environmental factors to ensure that development served present and future generations, focusing particularly on water, energy and food nexus. Green economy was additionally described as necessarily resulting in improved human well-being and social equity, significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

The policy’s objectives focused on the establishment of guidelines on the implementation of steps to transition to a low carbon economy, on the implementation of energy efficiency programmes, on the provision of parameters for the planning and design of green building programmes, on the transition to a climate resistant and low carbon economy, on the contribution to the global effort to stabilise against greenhouse emission and on the dematerialisation of the economy and promotion of air quality. The policy principles included on the other hand the provision of leadership by the Department as well as the display of energy, water and waste performance certificates on government buildings and the use of green building rating tools. The policy guidelines were furthermore describe as relying on the retrofitting of buildings, energy, water and waste management plans, the eco-labelling of building materials, green procurements and national building regulations.

As with regards to previous GBP initiatives, policy’s expected outcomes included the reduction of costs, the retrofitting of existing infrastructure, the improvement of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, the proactive development of plans and programmes, the integration of the principles of green building across the entire property portfolio under the custodianship of DPW, the focus on maintenance and enhancement of a chosen level of environmental and social quality and the promotion of black economic empowerment and job creation.

Ms Modisane indicated that the monitoring and evaluation of this Policy would be undertaken by a joint committee established through DPW.

She then addressed the GBP’s Strategic Framework and Annual Performance Plan (APP), and described the Department’s objective to ensure the scheduled maintenance of freehold property and enforce the energy and water efficiency in freehold property, aiming over the next five years at the identification of 15 000 identified buildings with facilities management contracts in place, the installation of 11 building management systems, the reduction in usage of energy consumption by 1,628,500,000 Kwh and of water consumption by 23,843,634 kilolitre (kl).

With regards to the GBP’s achieved interventions to date, Ms Modisane prided the Department with the finalisation of an international best practice tool, the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). The shared energy savings in all provinces, amongst other interventions, aimed at achieving 1.6 billion Kwh saving on consumption by national government buildings over the next five years. She referred to the DOE and DPW target monitoring system being developed, which has contributed to initial installation of 100 smart meters in buildings belonging to DPW and provinces, whilst the installation of 200 was underway.

On the matter of national and provincial cooperation, a cooperation agreement on technical support on energy efficiency between DPW and DOE was entered into effect in 2008/09. An amendment, which ought to include the DEA along with the DOE and establish a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), was currently being signed by the three departments, in order to ultimately enhance governmental support in all Green Building subsets. The latter’s implementation sought to involve Provincial spheres of Government through a Cooperation Framework 2015/16 entailing 5 Point Plan, drawn from lessons learnt at DPW level. These five features of the green building plan included the identification of pilot projects on the Green Building various subsets, the development of an implementation plan for pilot projects and policy, the setting of institutional arrangements, the formalisation of uniform reporting processes and setting a dashboard, and the assessment of Government prescripts and programmes for uniform implementation.

The cross-departmental cooperation was still involved in different interventions that included the installation of ‘smart meters’ on 300 pilot buildings, the determination of a baseline for pilot public buildings and shared energy savings contracts as part of energy audits, and the development of energy shared saving contracts.

With regards to the Department’s perspective on the future, Ms Modisane referred to the implementation of one pilot project per province, and indicated that a proposal would be submitted on the matter by 15 August 2015. The target setting for public buildings for the National Energy Efficiency Strategy 2015-2030 was a long term framework under development. She indicated the future occurrence of institutional capacity assessment in DPW regions.

She concluded her presentation by underscoring the importance of endorsing the draft green Building Policy as a finalisation of a Sector Plan, part of the broader scheme of cross-departmental and international cooperation.

Discussion
Mr S Masango (DA) expressed his confusion with regards the highlighted notion of capital saved. He pinpointed the lack of precise enough data and required detailing of how much was spent before, and how much after the GBP in the case of each unit involved in the process. He asked whether load-shedding periods were counted as part of the saving scheme. If so, this would be highly inaccurate and inappropriate. Furthermore he enquired on which contracts the Department referred to, requiring the provision of details on their length and related salary.

He asked as a result of the Department’s acknowledgment of the skill shortage in the field of green development, what measures had been implemented in order to address this educational challenge.

He enquired on the extent of cooperation with municipalities, and of their direct accountability to the Department, for they had been repeatedly remarked form lack of communication and poor capacity to cooperate.

Ms Adams referred to the Department’s emphasis placed on international cooperation. She stated that the notion of cooperation implied partnerships on the basis of equal to equal actors, and asked whether this was the case for South Africa’ interaction with its partner countries and particularly western ones. She questioned the nature of the application for fund formulated by the BGP to the European Union (EU).

She referred to the programme’s cooperation with Denmark, Germany, and the EU, and asked why out of the 300 ‘smart meters’ received from this partners, solely 200 had been installed. Furthermore she enquired on the impact of these devises, and the amount of energy that each one had enable the government to serve.

She asked with regards to page 9 of the presentation and the training initiatives of the Department, what skills were being referred to, who ought to ensure their learning process and at which stage should one be introduced to them.

She moreover asked with regards to the presentation’s focus on the achievements of previous shared energy contracts, what the budget allocation for each metropolis was, and according to which criteria these cities had been selected as samples relevant to the presentation. She criticised in this regard the lack of reference to metropolis that face greater difficulties, referring the case of Buffalo City as an example.

With regards to the presentation’s claimed achievements, she referred to her constituency’s case and the success of performing annual energy savings on 145 buildings in Northern Cape. She required from the Department greater details on this finding, including the formula underlying the savings’ calculation.

She demanded why GBP had not apply to the National Treasury for a budget allocation.

She enquired on the nature of the programme’s monitoring process, including the programmes that had been targeted and the extent to which auditing agents could be relied upon. She exemplified her interrogation by asking whether the GBP’s intervention at the Parliament had been monitored.

She stressed that by seeking to save energy, unforeseen consequences could occur such as the unfortunate situation in which Members would be stuck into the Parliament’s elevators.

The Chairperson shared his interest for matters associated with energy.

He mentioned the development of a power plant near Upington, which had been implemented by a Spanish company. He described Spain’s approach to green energy as significantly advanced and innovative, referring notably to the Spanish Parliament’s total refurbishment. He indicated that elevators even functioned there when the buildings’ electricity was off, as a response to Ms Adams’ concerns.

He emphasised that the DPW was the custodian of the all the nation’s assets and buildings, and that the Parliament and courts of South Africa were therefore its customers. He however related that no changes had been observed thus far on the Parliament’s premises.

He asserted that, although ESKOM was regularly pinpointed as slowing down the process of energy transformation, it was ultimately beneficial on the long term to the development of green energies.

With regards to the BBP partnership with certain European state actors, he suggested that the French and Spanish models should also receive great focus. He referred to Ms Adams’ remarks and similarly enquired on the situation of the ‘smart meters’, asking for these units’ cost, their country of origin and the details of the company supplying them.

The Chairperson asserted that developing countries often lagged behind first world states in terms of the articulation of waste and of green energies. He however indicated as a example contrary to this trend the case of Botswana that effectively managed to implement substantial energetic transformations while saving on its expenditure.

Ms Modisane explained to Members that only certain projects had been sampled as figures of reforms, while the rest of this data could be made available to the Committee on its request.

She stated with regards to the GBP contracts that the programme’s role was primarily to advertise these projects and produce reliable data, while the financial aspect of these initiatives relied on grants from different financial institutions. She said that 50% of savings had been achieved on sample cases.

She argued as a response to concerns on the current scarcity of skills in the field of green energies that a skill assessment project was currently being undertaken by the Department.

The situation of international cooperation was described as primarily occurring between each state’s Department of energy, the DWS thus only being a sub-actor in this regard. ‘Smart meters’ were used to measure consumption, while the DWS aligns itself to the DOE in order to implement the negotiated international partnership.

Ms Modisane emphasised that energy-saving figures relied on data that ought to be verified shortly, along a great reliance on the Department on South African Revenue Service’s (SARS)accredited auditors.

She stated that the GBP did not have a budget, for it had been removed from the entity several years ago. She however stressed that a new demand had been formulated this year.

With regards to the programme’s cross-institutional interaction, she highlighted that IDT was no longer part of the green energy project, while the GBP did not interact with ESKOM for any purpose else than paying the energy bills. She referred in this regard to rather high figures, emphasising that the Parliament’s energy bill is R840 000 per month. As a measure to address this critical expense, she referred to the need of implementing motion sensors for all lights and water taps on the parliamentary premises.

She said that the DOE and DEA were significantly more engaged in international partnerships. The EU’s call for proposals was described as the incentive that stimulated the application process by the GBP, although the same process had fail to win any subvention last year.

Mr Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Minister of Public Works referred to the evaluation of savings and to load shedding considerations, saying that the process of assessment was rather complicated, for most of the Department buildings relied on generators. The consumption of fuel by these generators was primarily not taken into consideration, although it should and would considerably impact on the energy saving figures.

The questioning surrounding contracts was addressed by Mr Cronin, who argued that private service providers would receive funding from financial institutions such as banks, and would get involved in the different projects of the GBP. The rest of the contractors’ payment would be undertaken by the Department at a rate of 50% to 60%. He highlighted that evaluation ought to be accurate in order to engage in private contracting. He nonetheless acknowledged the excessively important independence of action enjoyed by private contractors.

International cooperation was described as always bearing a certain cost, in this case the opportunity for Germany and Denmark to promote and market their technologies. He claimed the BGP success of installing 500 000 water heaters on the rooftops of poor household. Although seemingly successful, this initiative failed to achieve its initial target of installing 1 million units, and was today presently not supported by ESKOM anymore. The Deputy Minister however indicated R1.6 billion was still available to ESKOM for this purpose and should thus be retrieved. He additionally deplored that this project had failed to create local labour opportunities.

He emphasised the Department’s duty to develop training structures, while green buildings must become central pillars of the property management sector. He indicated in this regard the importance of enhancing cross-departmental and cross-party cooperation, to the exception of the EFF perhaps, as implied by Mr Dlamini’s early departure and explicated lack of interest for the topic.

Deputy Minister Cronin described Parliament as an excellent place to popularise green energies, expressing his hopes that such change on the Parliament premises would bear an impact on its budget.

The Chairperson thanked the Department’s delegation for its insightful input.

Mr Masango said that the case of Cape Verde’s management of water was rather enlightening and suggested that the Department look into it. He asked whether the buildings currently being built by the Department were completely in accordance with the criteria of green energies set forth by the GBP. He asked why contracts were terminated even though the GBP still required the performance of certain services.

Mr S Jafta (AIC) described the present programmes as effective in their role of energy preservation. He however enquired on which actions the Department was currently undertaking in order to raise public awareness, and empower citizens along the GBP programme.

Ms Adams referred to page 9 of the presentation and criticised the presence of many tasks and the crucial lack of targets on the one hand, and of time frames on the other hand. She emphasised the importance for every departmental planning to rely on time frames. With regards to projects implemented through IDT, she asked how the Department knew when the capital available was well spent, and why not to continue collaborating with the IDT.

The Chairperson related that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) had highlighted the DPW’s role of leading Department in terms of energy and particularly green energy. He reiterated in this instance that every Department and public building was presently under the DPW’s mandate. He further emphasised the Department’s importance by stressing that if targets of energy development were not achieved, the DPW and not the DOE would be at the forefront of the blame and would need to take responsibility.

He referred to a recent agreement whereby the Development Bank had provided funds to the Department of Energy, which had allocated this capital to Municipalities in most cases. He explained to Members that these funds had been poorly channelled and mismanaged by many municipal levels of government. In the light of this case he urged the DPW to exert its influential capacity to ensure that it would receive such subsidy in the future, and allocate it effectively.

The Chairperson highlighted the importance of ensuring responsible behaviour, notably from public employees, in the individual managing of energy. He contextualised this necessity as part of the urgency of raising public awareness as to enhance the saving of energy in South Africa. He suggested in this regard and tighter cooperation with the DOE.

Mr Anselm Umoetok, Director of Public Property Management (PPM) at the DPW related a certain shift of approach of the Department, which had been constrained to increase its energy allocation. He detailed this increase to R2 billion for the sake of energy efficiency. He explained this necessity as a result of the ESKOM’s shift in approach which had decided that the public should contribute to a greater extent to its input, and had thus significantly increase its tariffs.

Ms Modisane addressed Mr Masango enquiry on the termination of contracts, even in cases where the hired agent was relatively performant. She addressed this concern by describing a problem of procurement, whereby many different contractors sought to gain a share of the business opportunity. The Department thus responded to this reality by terminating and re-advertising contracts for general offer.

She responded to Mr Jafta’s underscoring of public awareness, and acknowledge that many public servant did not consider these issues to their appropriate extent, omitting for instance to switch any light off. She said that the Department was currently working on different awareness campaigns.

Mr Matutle added that the 2011 country wide energy awareness campaign had had a significant impact, while he praised an increased cooperation with the Department of Communication (DOC) in order to further enhance these efforts.

Ms Modisane argued that Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE) was still primarily focused on basic property issues and that the Department ultimately needed to provide significant leadership in greening processes. She agreed on the necessity to receive developmental funding in order to enhance its action and consolidate its input, such as sustainable job creation.

Ms Adams strongly encouraged the development of partnerships with the Department of Basic Education, underscoring the importance of implementing from the earliest age a consciousness of energy saving in South African citizens.

The Chairperson stressed that the Department and its GBP still had a lot of work to undertake , while he praised the importance of enhancing cross-departmental cooperation. He described a general trend of mutual blaming from the different departments. He nonetheless reminded DPW officials of their status of leading Department. He indicated that the Committee would seek to shortly gather all Departments involved in the energy sector in order to ensure collaboration between the different state institutions.

He emphasised the importance of solving these issues, notably for the general population does neither understand internal governmental divergences, nor cares for it. The core of the process remaining to deliver services and ensure developmental and energetic sustainability.

Ms Modisane asserted that only five months were left before the next State of the Nation Address, indicating the need to multiply efforts and to report concrete achievements, in order not to embarrass the President .

The Chairperson reiterated the need to coordinate efforts, and thanked Department officials for their attendance and enlightened input.

 

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