• Emira is the first SA REIT to receive an EPC – for Knightsbridge Block A office building
  • The GBCSA has confirmed Net-Zero accreditation for Knightsbridge Block A
  • The building’s new 580 PV panel solar farm was commissioned last month (February 2022)

Emira Property Fund has become the first JSE-listed property company in South Africa to receive a government-mandated Energy Performance Certification for one of its buildings – Knightsbridge, Block A, in the heart of Bryanston. Knightsbridge is the first of 54 certificates Emira plans to obtain for the mandated commercial buildings in the Emira portfolio.

From 7 December 2021, all publicly- and privately-owned offices, schools, universities, places of public assembly and indoor sport and theatres above a specific size must have and display Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). Emira partnered with experts in the field, RMS (Remote Metering Solutions), to meet the new regulatory obligations and progress its environmental sustainability goals.

“Emira has acted early to certify its buildings. Ensuring compliance with this new regulation is in line with our good governance. We are voluntarily certifying non-mandated buildings in addition to those that require certification, which is consistent with our commitment to best practices, carbon reduction and the environment,” says Ulana van Biljon, COO of Emira Property Fund.

It is fitting that Emira chose Knightsbridge Block A to debut SA’s first EPC as it was, just this month (March 2022), certified by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) as one of the first Net-Zero Energy buildings in SA. It has received a Net Zero – Carbon Level 2: Occupant Emissions (modelled) certification, demonstrating its annual net-zero energy consumption.

A prime multi-tenant office property and Emira’s head office location, Knightsbridge brings to life Emira’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices, which is evident throughout its portfolio. It is a showcase of resource efficiency, biodiversity and positive ecological impact.

Its new multi-level solar farm plays a pivotal role in its energy-neutral operations. The Knightsbridge renewable solar energy project – Emira’s tenth so far – commenced in October 2021 starting with two months of design planning to support both a net-zero rating and cost-benefit feasibility. Work got underway in December 2021 and the system was commissioned at the end of February 2022.

This particular building, a relatively new development, was always designed to incorporate a PV farm and achieve net-zero status. Its consumption patterns show it is ideal for a PV installation, and it can accommodate a combination of roof-top and ground-mount structures so the solar farm can achieve the desired energy yield. In fact, its total energy yield is higher than the building’s on-record consumption, taking into account the capacity limits and other impacts of Covid-19.

Emira’s Knightsbridge PV project at a glance:

  • 580 PV panels
  • 132 roof-top panels
  • 448 ground-mount panels
  • First-year guaranteed energy yield of 369.9 MWh
  • Equivalent to removing around 40 medium-sized homes from the power grid.

For Knightsbridge’s tenants, this means operating in a much greener environment and those tenants who report on any sustainability indices are able to confirm that their building has achieved independently verified net-zero energy status ahead of the targets set in the Paris Agreement. It makes Knightsbridge an attractive address for large corporates, almost all of which now consider greening initiatives when selecting their office space.

Van Biljon reports that the offices at Knightsbridge are currently fully let. “Our energy and other environmental initiatives, from biodiversity to water saving, support the letting of future phases of Knightsbridge and prolong its ongoing attractiveness and performance for tenants.”

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Importantly, Emira’s solar farms position it to take advantage of future power regulations, including feeding power back into the grid.

In the six months July 2021 to December 2021, Emira’s nine PV farms saved 4.8 million kWh and removed 4 639tCO2e emissions annually. Now, with the Knightsbridge installation and the further expansion of its Pretoria Wonderpark Shopping Centre system of 1.6MWp (DC) to 2.8 MWp (DC), its positive environmental impacts will be even more significant.

Geoff Jennett, CEO of Emira, says, “Emira’s purpose of being great in providing great real estate includes minimising our impact on the natural environment. We do this by managing our carbon footprint, improving affordable and clean energy, implementing integrated waste and recycling plans, water management and water harvesting projects and safeguarding biodiversity wherever we invest.”

Emira was one of only 80 global companies, and the only one in Africa, selected to work with SBTi to develop the Global Net-Zero Standard to align the Paris 1.5 degrees Celsius Carbon Reduction Target.

“Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are at the heart of our businesses and entrenched in our leadership and performance. As a responsible landlord, we have various targets and initiatives to enact Emira’s ESG commitments, which we will continue to expand,” says Jennett.

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