Energy efficiency in City Buildings

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Population: 4,005,015 [metropolitan area]

Climate: Mediterranean

Duration: 2013-active

Sector: Building sector

Funding sources: Public

City networks: C40

Savings: Energy savings up to 56% and CO2 savings up to 6,796 tonnes per year.

Solutions: Installation of energy efficient lighting solutions, solar heater and other measures in 18 public buildings.

Multiple benefits: Monetary costs in relation to the energy bills reduced.

In the city of Cape Town, the Energy and Climate Change Unit has implemented a project to reduce the operating costs of City buildings, saving the City money and electricity and reducing carbon emissions [source].

Objective –  To reduce energy consumption in Cape Town buildings by 10% [source].

Solutions – The projects consisted of the installation energy efficient lighting solutions, solar water heaters, HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning), solar PV, thermostat control and power factor corrections. The city has retrofitted 18 public buildings (60% of the corporate buildings) with energy efficient technologies, such as smart meters, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting and motion sensors [source]. Moreover, the project covers the LED retrofit of the Cape Town Stadium as well as of the Civic Centre [source]. The project includes the education of building managers and occupants about the project.

Funding – Public grant from the Department of Energy [source].

Innovation – This is the first project which was funded by the City government funded focusing on energy efficiency of buildings [source]. As Cape Town is the second-most populous urban area in South Africa, the scale and relevance of this project make it innovative for the country.

Success factors – The municipal government launched a number of initiatives for the development of energy efficiency of Cape Town. For instance, the Energy Efficiency Forum engages the local stakeholders in the commercial sector to promote energy efficiency in commercial buildings [source]. Moreover, the steadily lowering prices of energy efficient technologies benefitted the implementation of the project. Indeed, the cost of LED lighting decreased over the years and this favoured its installation in the buildings [source]. Thus, the engagement of the municipality and the market prices supported the development of the Energy efficiency in City Buildings project.

Significant outcomes:

  • About ZAR* 12 million saved per year as result of the project;
  • Annual energy savings up to 56% (correspondent to 2 119 482 kWh) as result of the project;
  • Annual CO2 savings up to 6,796 tonnes as result of the project.

Synergies with local policies:

  • Cape Town’s Action Plan for Energy and Climate Change (2011) has as goal the achievement of energy security. Energy efficiency is among the various criteria to complete this result, which is targeted in the objectives no. 1 (“Citywide: 10% reduction in electricity consumption by 2012, off a ‘business-as-usual’ baseline”) and no. 2 (“Council – local authority – operations: 10% reduction in energy consumption by 2012”).

Political alignment: 


  • The project divided the building retrofit in three-phases (pre-feasibility study, design of solutions, and installation of them) and each one gave lessons, which were directly implemented in the next intervention. These lessons will be eventually applied to other projects in other municipalities [source].

*The conversion rate used is ZAD 1 = USD 0.07

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Sector: Buildings

Country / Region: Africa, South Africa

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: City of Cape Town