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Sustainability & Building Simulation

Sustainability Chair

Sustainability Co-chair

Sustainability Co-chair

Building Simulation Chair

In 2019, Oxford Dictionary named ‘Climate Emergency’ as their word of the year.

The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is said to show, through usage evidence, a reflection of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and is likely to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.

Like it or not, the air conditioning and refrigeration community finds itself at the heart of this discussion, with buildings said to be responsible for a third of the world’s global carbon emissions, and a large portion of that attributed to heating and cooling.

In South Africa, four major metros (Johannesburg, Cape Town, eThekwini and Tshwane) have become signatories of the Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration of 2018. This declaration commits to ensuring that by 2030, all new buildings will be developed as 'Net-Zero Carbon’ (NZC). The declaration further commits to ensuring that by 2050 all existing buildings are Net-Zero Carbon. The definition of NZC being offered by the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) as “A building that is highly energy-efficient, and the remaining energy use is from renewable energy, preferably on-site but also off-site where absolutely necessary, so that there are zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis (Net Zero), or if the energy from renewable energy results in more energy being produced than what is used on site (Net Positive).”

Currently, the four metros above are supported by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) in a ‘C40 New Buildings Programme’ to develop a policy and bylaw enabling the achievement of Net Zero Carbon for all new buildings by 2030. This work is set to have significant impact on the way we heat and cool our buildings.

The SA ASHRAE Chapter has established two committees (Sustainability and Simulations) focusing specifically on engaging and supporting ASHRAE members on the topic of sustainability issues.

This year, the ASHRAE Sustainability Committee has been working with the C40 New Buildings Programme to develop practical guidance for developers on how to approach the journey to a Net-Zero Carbon building. These guidelines refer to international ASHRAE standards such as the recently released ‘Advanced Energy Design Guide to Achieving Zero Energy’, and ‘ASHRAE Standard 55 – Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy’. The goal is to release this local guidance document in the first half of 2020.

Designing highly efficient buildings require accurate energy, comfort and daylight simulation. It is here that the ASHRAE Simulations Committee aim to advocate, educate and encourage knowledge sharing in the field of building simulations. Currently the committee is in the planning stages of a ‘hackathon’ for collaborative discussion about how to meet the challenges of highly efficient design. Keep an eye out for further details to follow shortly!

It is clear that we are entering a new age of thermal design. One where both cutting-edge technology and first-principles passive design will be required to serve our growing communities. Our industries are set for rapid change and this is a fact we cannot control. What we can control is how we respond to the huge opportunities and indeed responsibilities that lie ahead. The ASHRAE Sustainability and Simulations committees look forward to playing an integral part in this response.

Francois Retief
Sustainability Committee Chair