Governments across Africa are assessing methods to reduce carbon emissions, in light of ambitious global climate change targets. In South Africa for example, the imminent introduction of Energy Performance Certificates will focus attention on building energy efficiency, with associated environmental benefits.
The cost efficiency of different technologies and techniques is one of the most important factors that influences this decision-making. Emissions-reducing measures that deliver a rapid and tangible return on investment will always be the best solution. Private investment at scale is much more likely when there is a solid business case to act – whether for an individual household or a large multinational corporation. And where government subsidy and incentives are required, cost-efficient measures deliver the most impact for the taxpayer’s pound.
When you consider greenhouse gas emissions reductions in these terms, there is one clear winner: improved building insulation. A report by McKinsey on the cost efficiency of different greenhouse gas abatement measures put building insulation at number one. In fact, the case for building insulation is so strong that its installation delivers a net financial benefit, thanks to the associated cost savings from reduced energy demand in buildings.
This return on investment for insulation is felt by all. Occupiers gain more comfortable, healthier buildings, with reduced heating and cooling costs. Landlords experience fewer rent defaults as tenants find energy bills more manageable. Developers gain buildings that are easier to market, and we all benefit from the environmental impact of reduced carbon emissions.
Because such a large proportion of carbon emissions are attributed to the built environment, buildings are an obvious place to focus efforts. New buildings are becoming subject to stricter energy performance requirements, but there’s still an enormous opportunity to decarbonise our existing building stock. Retrofitting high-performance insulation should still be our plan A.
By Mark Gillott, Business Development Director – Africa, Knauf Insulation