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Earth Hour: Ask South Africans what it truly means to sit in the dark

Earth Hour: Ask South Africans what it truly means to sit in the dark

On Saturday, March 30 at 8:30pm local time, millions of people around the world will turn off their lights for one hour to show their steadfast commitment to protecting nature. With fossil fuels accounting for approximately 80% of global energy production, electricity production treads heavily on the environment. The global Earth hour movement aims to raise awareness around the devastating impact of our heavy reliance on power.

Given South Africa’s current electricity crisis, with 24 hours of loadshedding over a four-day period and no firm end in sight, it is unlikely that many will choose to voluntarily turn off the lights for Earth Hour. We know all too well what it’s like to sit in the dark, and we’re angry (rightly so) over the billions of Rands lost daily through SOE Eskom’s current energy crisis.

Make it count

And yet, what if we choose to turn this burdensome restriction on its head? What if we use our earth hours to really reflect on the effects of climate change, and how embracing less power, even when we don’t have to, can be the best move we can make towards a sustainable future? Yes, it’s putting a positive spin on a national disaster, but isn’t that what South Africans do best?

Much like Day Zero re-programmed Capetonians into really grasping the need to steward a precious resource, here are five ways you can make every hour Earth hour:

1. Keep it hot

If the three minutes before the power cuts are spent boiling your kettle and transferring the water into an urn to keep the water hot, why not continue this practice on a regular basis, to conserve both electricity and water? In general, devices that are used to heat anything up use the most power (the tumble dryer being the worst culprit); and while it may only take 0.1kWh to boil a kettle, the numerous daily occasions add up and are often unnecessary.

2. Solar or bust

If solar is the future, the future is now. While in the past the primary investment in solar power was a big obstacle to adoption, the payback period of the investment and the rewards (especially against current risk) makes solar power an ever more accessible and sensible option. Going off the grid or supplementing your household energy intake with solar water heaters or solar electricity generation is a massive step towards sustainable living.

3. An insulated approach

Winter is coming and chances are that this year your oil-fin heater will stay packed away in the garage. The addition of insulation into a home, especially insulating your loft, attic or roof is possibly one of the fastest ways to reduce heat loss and use less energy, keeping your home more comfortable. There are a number of eco-friendly insulation products on the market to consider.

4. Cold shower power

Geysers consumer massive amounts of energy. While not many people will readily embrace a future of cold showers, invigorating as they may be, turning the temperature of your geyser down to 55-60 degrees will not affect the water temperature too much. Use a timer for your geyser and experiment with the minimum amount of heating time it needs to deliver piping hot water for your family.

5. The lights are on…

If you’ve flicked the switch and you’re in luck, make sure you’re burning energy-saving bulbs. LED lights can save up to 90% energy compared to a traditional bulb with the same light output. The light sources also last longer – up to ten times longer than a traditional bulb. Put another way, lighting up a normal incandescent bulb costs 75c per hour while an LED or CFL bulbs cost 12c per hour.

As we commemorate earth hour on Saturday and every day thereafter in our uncertain circumstances, let’s see it as a chance to reflect on even bigger uncertainties – namely, our planet’s future. And celebrate the fact that, with every small energy saving we make, we can contribute towards positive change.

Individual Membership

Designed for professionals acting in their individual capacity, including single consultant-businesses.

Organisational Membership

Ideal for companies, government departments, and organisations.

  • Total Employees: 1 - 5 Employees - R 4080.00
  • Total Employees: 6 - 20 Employees - R 12570.00
  • Total Employees: 21 - 50 Employees - R 24690.00
  • Total Employees: 51 Plus Employees - R 43840.00

Lisa Reynolds

Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

Lisa Reynolds is the CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa.

Lisa was the driver for the drafting of Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations for Buildings and has been involved in Energy Efficiency since 2003. She serves on many committees in the SABS and within the energy management professionals’ space. She was President of the SAEEC from 2016 to 2019 and was the previous President of the ESCo (Energy Services Companies) Association. Lisa was instrumental in the formation of SAFEE (Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency) within SAEEC.

She has assisted the South African Government with its Green Building Framework policies, Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives and Energy Efficiency Strategies

Her passion for the “Green space” started with the birth of the Green Building Council in 2007. Lisa served on the Board and the Technical Committee of the GBCSA, as well as on several Technical Working Groups for Rating Tools and Criteria. Lisa. became CEO in June 2020.

Lisa has a BSc, an MBA and a CEM. Lisa’s awards include the 2007 ETA Award for Women, 2008 Individual Energy (SAEE), 2012 SABS Standards Writer Award; the 2014 Women in Energy (SAWIEN); and the 2016 Ian Lane Hall of Fame award.

Lisa is committed to growing the Green Economy within a Green Recovery.

Organisational categories

As an organisational member, you will fall into one of the below categories, and be charged according to specific size indicators. Please reach out to us for any further clarity on which category is best for your organisation

Property Developers

Annual Turnover

Investors, Owners, Property Managers

Total Asset Value

Major Corporate Tenants & Retail

Annual Gross Rentals

Building Contractors

Annual Turnover

Building Product Manufacturers & Distributors

Annual Turnover

Professional Services: Architects, Designers, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, PM’s, Consultants, Legal

Number of employees

Research, Higher Education, NGO’S & Regulators

NGO or Research/Higher Education/ Regulators

Related Interests: Utilities, Financial, Insurance, etc.

Annual Turnover


Local/ municipal/ provincial/ state 
Contact GBCSA to confirm your category