Water & Energy Benchmarking – will your building measure up?

Posted On Wednesday, 26 September 2012 10:46 Published by
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The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has launched the PILOT Energy and Water Benchmarking tool for the commercial property industry, which allows property owners to see how their building’s consumption measures up to industry norms

The GBCSA has launched the Pilot version of its Energy and Water Benchmarking tool, which, for the first time, analyses existing building performance, and allows property managers to see how their buildings measure up in terms of energy and water consumption compared to industry norms.

Measuring existing stock

This launch is particularly relevant because until now, the GBCSA has focused on the certification and rating of new buildings, to ensure a more sustainable built environment going forward. However, new buildings account for about 1%-2% of the average property portfolio, and to truly minimize the impact of buildings on the environment, existing buildings must be considered.

This is the fifth tool developed specifically for the South African market, and the GBCSA urges building owners to test it extensively, and provide feedback to the GBCSA, before the first version of the tool is officially launched.

Useful for tenants

The tool could also prove useful to prospective tenants, as the ratings assigned to a building will give a good indication of consumption and efficiency within a building. At this stage, certification under the benchmarking tool is not available, although this will be considered during the pilot phase.

GBCSA Technical Executive Manfred Braune says “this tool is powerful in assisting property owners to decide which properties to retrofit or sell, as well as being a useful marketing tool for star performers in a portfolio.”

Efficiency measure in practice

Listed property giant, Growthpoint’s Office Portfolio Divisional Director Rudolf Pienaar notes that upon establishing these energy and water benchmarks, Growthpoint will be in a position to measure each one of the company’s office buildings and focus on the buildings which exceed the benchmark.

With a total office portfolio in excess of 1.1-million m2, there is significant scope for useful analysis of this kind.

“According to our calculations, energy consumption has increased from R8.66/m² to R30.46/m² over the past five years, in the case of some large office tenants. Any efficiency we can achieve in order to keep costs down will benefit our tenants. The benchmarking tool will no doubt be of similar use to the property industry in general. A combined focus by all property owners on reducing consumption will be of benefit to all occupiers of property, and contribute to a much-needed reduction in national consumption,” adds Pienaar.

Reducing consumption

The pilot tool incorporates a 10-point rating scale that is based on the relative performance of buildings with respect to their peers. It contains the formulas that allow a building’s consumption to be normalised according to the methodology developed, taking occupancy and regional climatic differences into account for example.

“This tool will be of use to our customers in assessing and reducing their consumption of electricity and water. Eskom manages office accommodation of about 1-million m2, and will certainly be using the tool to track and reduce our own consumption too. We look forward to seeing the trends and findings, which emerge from usage of the tool. By learning from each other we will achieve a great result for our country,” says Eskom Senior General Manager Andrew Etzinger.

Tool Development

Intensive development of the Energy and Water Benchmarking tool began in early 2011, thanks to sponsorship from Growthpoint Properties and Eskom, and the pilot tool is freely available on the GBCSA’s website (www.gbcsa.org.za).

The development process involved surveying the performance of almost 350 office buildings located throughout South Africa. This data was statistically analysed and used as an empirical basis to develop a method of benchmarking the performance of one building against the industry norm of a similar type and occupancy, for annual energy and water consumption.

Building owners would need to have at least one year’s worth of energy or water data to input into the benchmarking tool in order to assess performance.

The GBCSA led the tool development, employing a technical consultant from Aurecon South Africa, and working with the international team who developed the Australian NABERS tool, as well as an independent review by US developers of the Energy Star tool.

A most significant survey

Braune notes that the number of buildings surveyed means that this is probably South Africa’s most significant survey and database of its kind. Approximately ten property owners, with sizeable portfolios throughout South Africa, submitted data, which was gathered over a year, and then further analysed.

The enormous benefit of research and analysis such as this is that it gives a clear indication of what buildings are realistically consuming in South Africa. Developing a tool using this information then allows other building owners to see where they are positioned on the scale of consumption - how well they are doing relative to similar buildings, or how much work they need to do.

The benchmarking tool is a key input to the GBCSA’s Existing Building Performance rating tool, which is currently under development. Further sponsorship is required for the development of the full Existing Building Performance tool, and interested parties should contact the GBCSA on 0861 0 GBCSA or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in this regard.

Last modified on Friday, 12 April 2013 17:57

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