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Incentives to build green in South Africa

Have you heard the joke, what did South Africa use before candles? Electricity.

The South African treasury, and various municipalities have put several measures in place to encourage investment in green building and green building technologies – including solar energy. And, whether you are a property developer, home owner or simply an individual wanting to invest in green building solutions, there is a solution that would interest you.

A bold step in the right direction has been published by the City of Ethekwini in the 2019/ 2020 rates policy which allows rebates or reduction in property rates on buildings that are in possession of an ‘As Built’ rating certificate awarded by the GBCSA and which comply with related criteria.

Cutting your energy bill and decreasing tax

The Section 12L energy efficiency savings tax incentive (Section 12L), which was extended until 2022 in the 2019 Budget speech, enables small and large businesses to save as much as 30% on their energy bills.

“The 12L tax incentive’s objective is two-fold – to encourage energy saving in a constrained capacity environment and to assist in meeting the country’s commitments to reduce carbon emissions over the next few years,” said Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager at the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) in a statement.

The tax incentive not only reduces companies’ carbon foot print but lessens their demand on dirty coal-generated electricity from Eskom.

“The current rebate of 95c/kWh saved on energy consumption has proven to be of great interest to industry, as more and more businesses sign up with us,” said Bredenkamp.

In order to claim the deduction, the measurements must be in kilowatt per hour and the energy savings must visible over 12 consecutive months, when compared to the previous 12 months of baseline measurement.

“In some instances, we have seen customers save up to 30% on their energy bill and in addition receive a tax allowance on their tax return,” said Bredenkamp. “There is a calculator on our website (!/content/home) where one can check the feasibility of applying for the incentive and get an indication of what the benefit will be.”

Professional appointed to oversee energy measurements

Once the project is submitted to SANEDI, the figures are verified by a Measurement and Verification (M&V) professional, appointed by an M&V body. The building can be a plant, a hotel or normal office premises. Currently, residential households are excluded from applying for this benefit.

SANEDI explain that the assessor will submit all the information to SANEDI and it would then proceed with an evaluation to ascertain whether the claim is in line with the appropriate regulations and standards, and can be approved.

New business models incentivising solar

And the government is not the only player incentivising electricity generation and use by solar PV.

Several new businesses now target individuals and households by offering services centred around generating electricity by harvesting sunlight. Aimed at different segments of the market, the opportunities become greater each time legislation and regulation becomes clearer and more enabling.

Buy to invest

Fedgroup’s impact farming venture installs panels on rooftops of commercial buildings around the country. Through the mobile app individuals can buy a panel for R5000 and earn monthly returns, which allows them to become an independent power producer in their own right. Fedgroup also rent roof space for their solar installations.

Rent to own

Solarent offers a model to homeowners who want to avoid the large initial costs of installing a solar hot water system. With a monthly debit of R399 and a depost of R1800 Solarent will install and maintain a solar geyser on your roof, and once it is paid off after an expected three to five years, it is yours.

Whether you represent the interests of a large company interested in claiming back some of the costs of starting to generate electricity from solar power, or if you interested in helping your household to stop heating up the bathwater with dirty electricity there are many alternatives available.

Existing building performance (EBP) is a key metric to understand before being able to make the right decision. The GBCSA offers online training in measuring EBP, and successful candidates become Green Star Accredited Professionals.

Find out more about becoming an EBP AP!  

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