Independent adviser achieves energy-verification accreditation

18th September 2015 By: Sashnee Moodley - Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

IIndependent advisers Cova Advisory and Associates celebrated its second anniversary last month, which coincided with the company being accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (Sanas) as an energy measurement and verification inspection body – only the sixth company in South Africa to achieve this.

Cova director Tumelo Chipfupa says this makes the company the first majority black-owned company with the right to sign off on the section 12L Energy Efficient Tax Incentive.

The tax incentive rewards businesses that can show measurable energy savings. The 12L regulation sets out the process for determining substantial energy efficiency savings and the requirements for claiming a tax deduction.

“To offer our full range of services, we needed to be accredited for energy auditing. The SANS 50010 is a standard that enables us to offer companies our help with the full range of tax incentives and energy efficiency advice. The accreditation gives us a competitive edge in the market, as many of our competitors cannot sign off on section 12L,” he says. 

Some of Cova staff are also certified measurement and verification professionals and certified energy managers.

However, Chipfupa says more companies need to be accredited so that they can help applicants secure tax incentives, as the costs to access these incentives are currently too high.

Small and medium-sized enterprises should also get accredited, as the emergence of more roleplayers in the industry will result in fees being reduced. This will increase competition, which will be welcome, says Chipfupa.

Meanwhile, Cova is continuing with it a strategy to lead by example and be carbon neutral by offsetting its own carbon emissions.

The company recently sponsored 5 km of the ArthroChoice 21.1 km race, hosted by the Midrand Striders Running Club last month.

The race is first carbon-neutral race in South Africa and Cova offset the carbon emissions of the more than 1 600 competitors.

Cova estimated the travel patterns of the runners, by assessing the transport they used to get to the race, and established the carbon footprint of each runner.

The carbon for the event was 17.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Cova sponsored 50 Wonderbags – a non-electric insulated bag designed to reduce the amount of fuel required during cooking.

“Offsetting carbon emissions is part of our corporate social investment to ensure the company’s money goes where we want it to go. We are business advisers, so we help companies on their business journeys, but there is a business imperative to what we do. The carbon-neutral work we do impacts on the bottom line and helps companies change,” says Cova director Duane Newman.

Cova also manages its own carbon footprint through the Food and Trees for Africa initiative, a nongovernment organisation that promotes greening and food security through permaculture.

Cova determines its own carbon footprint and, with Food and Trees for Africa, plants 100 trees to offset the carbon it emits. 

Newman says the biggest challenge for companies in the environmental area is raising the funds to establish energy-saving initiatives, adding that banks need to work with companies to find more suitable finance tools.

Further, he says South Africa’s policy on carbon emissions at a policy level is “a quilt patchwork”, as there is still uncertainty over various developments – such as the planned carbon tax – and future rules and energy management guidelines remain unclear. This makes it challenging for companies, as they have to navigate their way in an uncertain policy environment.

Most companies are also now more focused on energy security rather than the price of energy, as a result of recent supply shortages from State-owned power utility Eskom.

“We need to understand our environmental support is not only about saving the planet in the long term but also costs in the short term costs and revenue streams. If we don’t place sustainability and energy at the core of our business activities, it will remain a noncore function,” he concludes.