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Energy-efficiency taken to the next level

by Darren

The winner of the National Energy Barometer Survey, the N1 City Mall, is definitely raising the bar in energy-efficiency for shopping centres in South Africa.

The mall’s management team even went so far as to repaint the centre’s entire roof with an energy-saving coating which is designed to reflect more light.

The first competition was successfully rolled out in 2010 by the developers of the barometer, Energy Cybernetics. It was made possible with the support of the Central Energy Fund (CEF) through the National Energy-Efficiency Agency (NEEA). The initiative was also endorsed by the government’s national energy efficiency campaign, Save It!

Saving energy a top priority
The N1 City Mall, one of Cape Town’s regional shopping centres, is situated in the heart of the northern suburbs.  After hearing about the energy barometer initiative from one of the inaugural award participants, the management team took the decision to enter the building into the initiative with the main aim of receiving a clear indication of how the shopping centre benchmarked within its relevant retail sector.

With the N1 City Mall having opened for trade in 1990, the age of the building itself posed challenges to energy-efficiency and numerous matters had to be attended to. Some of these included lighting, load shifting, air-conditioning reductions through the installation of new chillers and the replacement of old corroded pipes.

Pitfalls in the project
One of the challenges the management faced was sourcing the correct energy services company (ESCO) to run with the various Eskom funding projects. As the savings in energy costs are often used to pay back the capital investment of the project over a five- to twenty-year period, or reinvested into the building to allow for capital upgrades, the management team realised the importance of selecting the correct ESCO if the project would eventually provide returns on their investment.

“A good rule of thumb is that energy savings of between 10% and 30% can be achieved by implementing measures that have a payback period of less than two years,” says Gustav Radloff, the managing director of Energy Cybernetics.

The identification of the best suited technologies for this specific building also formed a fairly daunting task for the N1 City Mall’s management team. With new technologies currently available, it is now possible to measure usage remotely and all information can be made available in real time, allowing for immediate action when matters go wrong, for instance a load fluctuation or a failed power factor unit.

This enables the user to be proactive and address the matter immediately to ensure efficient usage, which in turn results in savings. The smart meter platform also allows all tenants to be metered on real-time response and also helps them to manage their own usage proactively.

All employees, operations managers and staff at the centre are fully aware of the energy-savings initiatives and are actively involved in implementing these in day-to-day operations. The management team believes that this policy of involvement has been the key to their success in reducing utility costs, resulting in lowered expenditure and improving the company’s bottom line figures.

The runner-up in the shopping centre category was the Centurion Mall. Imperial Hotel walked away with the honours in the hotel category and CEF House took the top spot in the head office category. Utility Administration Services (UAS) manages the buildings for the N1 City Mall, the Centurion Mall and Imperial Hotel.

The National Energy Barometer Survey has proved valuable to Centurion Mall in the sense that it has provided them with an idea of how they are performing in the market.

This year it is again open for participation and building owners and operators who wish to take part are invited to log on to www.energybarometer.com for more detailed information.

Energy Cybernetics
Tel: 012 369 9880
Fax: 012 348 9175
E-mail: info@energycybernetics.com“>info@energycybernetics.com
Website: www.energycybernetics.com

Pics: The roof of the N1 City Mall in Cape Town was repainted with an energy-saving coat to become more energy-efficient. 

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