Date:3 August 2013
Any colour, as long as it’s green.
You probably won’t notice anything particularly different about the new Kia dealership perched on a ridge up in Weltevreden Park, Gauteng. The cars are the same as the ones you can see at other branches and the airy, modern building is pretty much like any other of its kind. (Which is to say, the interior is temperature-controlled and the lights blaze all night.)
What you don’t see is the hidden tech that makes this dealership a first for South Africa: eco-friendly by design, it’s based on renewables with a primary focus on energy autonomy (it’s totally solar-powered) and water independence, thanks to recycled rainwater. The flagship branch in a countrywide network of 68, it opened officially on 19 February, just over a year after construction started.
Although Kia’s eco-friendly electric, hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles are not currently available to the South African market, the company has decided to concentrate its efforts on making its operational side environmentally friendly. The Weltevreden Park facility is said to be the blueprint for future eco-friendly dealerships. National marketing manager David Sieff says he hopes the move will help create a groundswell of greater awareness of what can be done by similar installations.
Solar panels mounted on the building’s roof (above left) create a daily output capable of powering 22 households. The energy generated by the panels is split between three converters, providing a three-phase 240 V supply running at 50 Hertz. If the supply of electricity exceeds the demand, the overflow is stored in three state-of-the-art battery banks (above right).
The main function of these battery banks is to serve as a back-up system in the event of the load being affected by a power outage or bad weather. Should this happen, the energy from the battery banks, channelled via the three inverters, is enough to power the entire dealership for 12 hours.
Wash, rinse, recycle
Rainwater collected from the facility’s roof is filtered and distributed into six 10 000-litre containers. This feeds the car wash; but the water’s journey doesn’t end there. After use, it is pumped back into the filtration system, cleansed of contaminants such as oil, soap and dirt, and pumped back into the containers for reuse in the wash bay.
Lighting the way
Low-wattage luminaires (both fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps) are used in the major areas of the dealership. Standard high base 400-watt lamps are replaced with four 54-watt lamps, providing the same light, but using less energy. Occupancy sensors have been installed in most areas of the building; they turn off the lights in their area automatically after a few minutes if no movement
Green by numbers
Total area: 3 620 m2
Solar panels: 288
Peak daily output: 69 kW