App will help to cut energy waste
Energy efficiency expert Heather McEwan, who has helped businesses save money and become more environmentally friendly, is now aiming for energy savings on a much bigger scale.
In just three of her energy audit projects in 2018, McEwan managed to save more than one million kilowatt-hours merely by changing the lighting used in businesses.
“You can literally convert that to tons of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere,” she said.
The three company sites have been certified with the ISO 50001 standard under her guidance.
But the newly developed mobile app she and two students created at Propella Business Incubator in Port Elizabeth in 2018 could assist provincial governments to monitor and curb large-scale energy over-usage.
The Energy Performance Certification (EPC) app is aimed at creating work for students or energy service companies in the field to collect data on buildings’ energy usage.
The collected data is fed back into a central database where a building’s energy efficiency ratings can be calculated – all on a mobile phone.
The data is submitted via the app to the SA National Energy Development Institute for the certification process.
The pilot app was timeously released in light of the department of energy – in July 2018 – publishing a draft regulation which seeks to make it mandatory for certain buildings to submit and publicly display their energy performance.
The new regulations apply to both government and private buildings.
“A building’s rating is calculated as the energy consumed in kilowatt hours per square metre,” McEwan said.
Vinolia Shivambu, one of the students who worked with McEwan, said she was proud to have been part of a project that has the potential to provide work for many of her peers.
Shivambu, who has a national diploma in mechanical engineering from Tshwane University of Technology, believes the app could also assist the government in improving SA’s overall energy efficiency.
“I am proud to have been a part of this and I have learnt so much. We needed to make sure that the information collected is useful and correct.
“Being qualified doesn’t mean you will always get a job.
“But through this app qualified people will be able to find work,” she said.
Shivambu was one of 40 students who were part of the Limpopo department of economic development, environment and tourism internship programme.
And as such, the app will be piloted in Limpopo for the next six months. McEwan said for now only those students involved in the pilot study would have access to the app.
“People have to apply to us for the user name and password, and then we will let energy auditors and other technical people who know what they are doing use the app.”
After the app was presented at the South African Energy Efficiency Confederation conference in 2018, McEwan said the Western Cape government showed interest in using the app once the pilot study was complete.
McEwan was also awarded Female Energy Professional of the Year for her mentoring of students through the Limpopo internship programme at the same event.
“We haven’t yet approached the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality because we felt that because Limpopo funded the students, let’s get to them first,” she said.
The app is now available in the Google Play store and will be released in the Apple store once the pilot phase is complete in about six months’ time...