Wednesday 23 October 2013

PW 371-A EDITION 2.0 Government Specifications for Construction

PW 371- A and B EDITION 2.0 refers to the recently updated editions of construction works specifications developed by the South African Department of Public Works.  Specifications include:

  • Earthworks
  • Concrete Works
  • Masonry
  • Structural Timber
  • Structural Steel
  • Insulation, Sealants and Seals
  • Glazing
  • Electrical Works
  • Mechanical Works
  • External Works

The documents were published in July 2013 and can be accessed here. The update of the specification has been welcomed by industry and has received positive reviews. From a sustainability perspective however the new specifications do not appear to address sustainability in detail and there appear to be some gaps. These are described briefly below.

While the specifications mention of the need to consult to trade bodies such as TIASA on recycled content of insulation there is no reference to minimizing the use of insulation that contributes to global warming as a result of using CFCs and HCFCs as a blowing agent in manufacturing processes.  Sections on timber do not refer to any requirement to source timber from sustainable sources. There is also no reference to the origin of materials and components which is surprising given government's interest in promoting local content and localisation.

Electrical Works
Electrical works specifications do not include reference to energy efficiency measures such as efficient lighting, controls like daylight and motion sensors and monitoring capability in the form of sub-metering. In particular, sub-metering may be a very useful mechanism for improving energy management and accountability in government buildings and  could support energy efficiency improvements being driven by government through mechanisms such as energy performance certificates

Drainage, sewerage, water and gas supply, fire equipment, sanitary plumbing
This section of the PW 371 does not make reference to water efficiency aspects such as water harvesting systems and efficient taps, urinals, showers and WCs. The specifications include pit latrines but makes no reference to water efficient and ecological sanitation. Increasingly water is being seen as scarce resource and therefore many of the above measures should be included in specifications and are increasingly being addressed by municipal bylaws.

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