South Africa’s Standard Bank has installed a hybrid solar water heating system at its head office in Johannesburg in order to reduce its carbon footprint – while saving the financial group nearly R1-million a year in energy costs.
The pilot system comprises 100 solar power panels covering more than 200 square metres on the roof of 6 Simmonds Street, one of the buildings that makes up its head office complex, known as the Standard Bank Centre, in downtown Johannesburg.
The new system will be used to heat 48 000 litres of water a day – 20 000 litres via solar and 28 000 litres via energy-efficient heat pumps – saving up to 5% of current building energy consumption.
A back-up and top-up system consisting of two heat pumps will support the solar installation for days when the sunshine is not optimal.
According to Standard Bank channel development director Marius de la Rey, water heating, lighting and air-conditioning are three of the biggest energy consumers at the bank, and they are also the areas of energy consumption that can most easily be addressed in existing buildings.
“The challenge in implementing clean energy solutions is taking the older infrastructure in existing buildings and upgrading and converting to cleaner more efficient systems using alternative power sources where possible,” he said in a statement last week.
“We have to be more creative in reducing the energy consumption in our older assets. Standard Bank Centre is already achieving benchmark energy efficient performance.”
Committment to green building standards
Standard Bank Group is looking at introducing energy saving measures across the group, and the pilot of the large-scale solar system, combined with the use of energy efficient heat pumps, could be used in areas where energy constraints hinder new business development or the full optimisation of the bank’s properties.
“We are committed to building all of our new real estate developments to 4-star green building standards, and cater for reducing CO2 emissions, optimal energy use and savings, and the introduction of the latest green technology,” said De la Rey.
Standard Bank Group has also upgraded its air conditioning chillers at the Standard Bank Centre in Johannesburg, while continuous energy audits are also conducted to assist with the introduction of energy efficient technology and other improvements.
With the introduction of alternative energy solutions in the areas of water heating, light control and air-conditioning, Standard Bank Group has reduced its energy demand to 56 watts per square metre, well below national averages.
According to Standard Bank Group sustainability director Karin Ireton, the energy efficiency project is part of the bank’s commitment to driving sustainability, and forms part of efforts to make the group environmentally and economically efficient.
“In implementing new technologies, companies like Standard Bank can reduce the demand for fossil-fuel based energy and take pressure of the electricity grid,” she said. “Energy constraints are currently a potential cap on growth within the economy and the challenge to all companies is to increase economic output with less energy.”