Sustainable energy solutions for the residences of Stellenbosch University

Smit, Georgina (2009-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Sustainable Development Planning and Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The research objective of this assignment is to investigate technological options for sustainable energy solutions in the residences of Stellenbosch University. Conventional energy systems are contributing towards the degradation of global environmental sustainability. An alternative energy future exists if sustainable energy solutions, via renewable energy or energy efficiency, are adopted but these solutions await the political will and institutional governance to be implemented. A niche group of universities are modelling themselves around the sustainable energy agenda. As institutional spaces of learning, research and breeding grounds for new ways of thinking, universities stand poised to engage future leaders with local solutions to global energy dilemmas. It is argued that sustainable energy is necessary, it is possible and other universities are implementing it in various formats. The author of this thesis, a student at Stellenbosch University, was prompted to ask: what opportunities exist for Stellenbosch University to implement sustainable energy? The research objective focused on end use energy efficiency as means, out of all the technical options theoretically possible today, to implement sustainable energy solutions in the residences of Stellenbosch University. The focus of end use efficiency was specific to water heating, lighting and appliance use, for which technical solutions exist. This exploratory research was conducted via a macro, secondary data analysis of the quantitative data which detailed the energy consumption of residences in kilowatt hours as well as a micro, case study to facilitate a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the behavioural and leadership dynamics involved with technological implementation. The findings revealed that end use energy efficiency is a possible means for sustainable energy use within the residences of Stellenbosch University. However, the use of heat pump water heating technology in the majority of the residences and the omission of air conditioning in the residences results that the greatest potential for energy efficiency measures are not available. The centralised kitchen infrastructure requires highly rated equipment to deal with the swift throughput of meal times during the residences. The remaining focus areas of energy consumption, residential living, therefore, poses the greatest opportunity for end use energy efficiency. This posits residential lighting and appliance use as the focal point of the investigation. The findings concluded recommended courses of action for the University, residential leaders and students. The holistic and integrated approach to the research objective, guided by systems thinking and ecological design, capacitates actors at three different levels to pro actively implement end use energy efficiency. A by product of the micro, case study was a tool which the new Green House Committee members can now use to identify key points of energy efficiency and energy conservation in their residences. The local solutions generated by this thesis significantly contributed towards taking the first step towards mitigating global, national and community problems. Sustainable energy solutions are necessary, available and being implemented in other universities. End use energy efficiency, as a means to sustainable energy, is necessary, available and possible to implement within the residences of Stellenbosch University.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: