Pinelands company boosts city’s green economy

GreenCape's Seraj Chilwan, left, and Maloba Tshehla with Rose Keanly of Old Mutual at the ribbon cutting.

Cape Town’s green economy was given a boost this week when Pinelands-based financial services company Old Mutual invested R20 million in a solar carport, which generates enough energy to run 500 household geysers.

Rose Keanly, chief operating officer (COO) of emerging markets at the company, said their latest achievement was about their contribution as an organisation which has a huge physical and carbon footprint.

“This is massive for us because it enables us to find a creative way to reduce the carbon we emit as well as reducing the cost of energy.”

She said the new solar carport, which took three months to install and is situated at the top of the
166m2 building, generates one megawatt of energy from almost 3 600 solar panels.

“This saves us a huge amount of money each year and creates positive spin-offs for the environment,” Ms Keanly said.

In addition to their green feat, the company was awarded a five-star green rating award from the Green Building Council of South Africa.

“It’s huge. This is the biggest existing corporate office in the country to achieve this rating. It makes us very proud because making a contribution to society and the environment is directly in line with our company’s ethos,” she said.

Brian Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the Green Building Council of South Africa, based at Black River Park in Observatory, explained how the council awards “green buildings” a star rating.

“The company has received an existing performance rating which looks at certain benchmarks like electricity and water consumption and attributes a score which is mapped according to criteria and given a star rating,” he said. Mr Wilkinson said a “five star” rating means South African excellence.

“There are 166m2 here. This is by far the biggest green building; not only in South Africa but in the southern hemisphere.

“The fact that a building of this size is able to perform at this level of excellence is a huge testimony to their commitment to the green economy,” he said.

Mayoral committee member Johan van der Merwe, for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said Cape Town is the green hub of Africa accounting for most of the local manufacturing for the national renewable energy programme.

“Our expansion of the green economy is expected to contribute markedly to inclusive and sustainable economic growth, which is linked to job creation and which has the ability to transform parts of our local economy,” he said.

He said a highlight this year is the announcement that the City will was the announcement that the City will issue a green bond in 2017 which would encourage investors to take part in social responsibility projects.

He added that this year, the City successfully retrofitted 1 100 street lights as part of a R3,8 million LED street lighting pilot in Burgundy Estate, Summer Greens, Eversdal, Bothasig and Aurora which has already lead to a 32 percent reduction in the electricity load usage.

The City’s energy efficiency programme had resulted in savings of more than R110 million over the past five years.

“Since 2010, the City has saved almost 80 000 MWh of electricity and
79 000 tons of carbon through its municipal operations energy efficiency programme. This is the equivalent of the power needed to operate all of Cape Town’s street lights for a whole year,” he said .