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2008-02-11: Johannesburg introduces new measures to ensure energy efficient development

THE City of Johannesburg is introducing new requirements for property developers and home builders to ensure greater energy efficiency and a reduction in the demand for electricity in the city.

New developments will in future need to include alternative energy sources or energy saving devices and building plans will be evaluated in terms of measures to promote low energy consumption.

The City’s new approach follows extensive consultations with organisations such the SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA), the Association of Consulting Town and Regional Planners as well as academics from the Universities of Johannesburg and Wits.

Dr Philip Harrison, the Executive Director: Development Planning and Urban Management in Johannesburg says the current countrywide power shortage compels the city to tighten up its management of development.

“Our objective is to ensure that Johannesburg continues to grow – but that we minimise the impact of this growth on the power-generating infrastructure of the country that is already very strained,” he says.
“We can also use the current crisis to shift unsustainable patterns of growth in the city onto a sustainable trajectory,” says Dr Harrison.

Among the new measures that will be introduced are:

The CSIR will draw up guidelines for the design of energy efficient buildings. This will include a package of incentives and/or regulations for developers to promote energy efficiency.
However, the city will introduce, with immediate effect, a set of basic requirements for energy efficient development that will be considered in the adjudication for all development applications.
The City will continue to consider applications for development in areas identified for growth in the Regional Spatial Development Frameworks. However, the approval of applications will be contingent on developers demonstrating that they will provide alternative, environmentally friendly energy on site or introduce energy-saving devices. Every development will require a certification from City Power or Eskom in this regard.
Successful applicants will have to sign a Service Agreement with the City to guarantee the introduction of such measures. This will apply to all development applications – not only township establishment applications as is currently the case.
Where applications cannot meet these strict criteria but are still required to meet the City objectives for spatial restructuring, development rights may still be granted but permission to exercise these rights may be pended until either City Power or Eskom can certify that adequate power is available or the developers are able to show that they can meet the requirements of energy efficiency.
Applicants for additional rights will have to demonstrate that energy saving measures or power generation are in place and there is no added demand for energy from Eskom or City Power. Again, the City may require that Service Agreements are signed.
All building plans and site development plans will in future be evaluated in terms of measures to promote low energy consumption buildings. Two specific criteria will be considered in the approval process:
The extent to which buildings are facing north to facilitate natural heating in winter;
The provision of eave overhangs of at least 700 mm on the northern, eastern and western facades of buildings. These overhangs provide shade in the summer, minimizing the need for air-conditioning, and ensure sun penetration in the winter, minimizing the need for space heating.
Designers, property developers and builders will be strongly encouraged to install solar water heating systems, insulate roof spaces, provide light fittings that are compatible with compact fluorescent light bulbs and introduce motion sensors or timers for lights, air conditioners and geysers.

“Although we will rely on voluntary compliance in the immediate future, these requirements may soon be regulated,” says Dr Harrison.

The City also encourages the retrofitting of existing building with energy saving devices. Incentives to support this process are currently being considered. Such devices have already been installed in a number of city-owned buildings through a joint initiative between Johannesburg and the Clinton Foundation.
Dr Harrison says all the new requirements and guidelines will apply to city-initiated projects as well as to the private sector.