From 16 – 19 October, approximately 120 delegates including representatives from twenty-five universities across South Africa attended the multi-day HEFMA 2017 conference, hosted by the University of Pretoria at its Hatfield main campus.

The Higher Education Facilities Management Association is a body that strives “To empower Facilities Managers, develop, maintain and sustain high-quality facilities and infrastructure for Higher Education Institutions.

Through the work and projects that NrG is currently executing at the University, NrG was invited to participate and make a presentation at the HEFMA 2017 conference.

Dr Dino Petrarolo hosted a presentation entitled “Power Purchase Agreement and its benefits explained”

NRG is currently constructing two Solar PV projects of combined 225 kWac capacity at the University of Pretoria, these projects are supplying energy through a Power Purchase Agreement sold directly to the University. Dr. Petrarolo’s presentation to the conference explained how the PPA is structured, how it is ideally suited to academic facilities, and how it answers many of the concerns raised by the University. A private PPA is an exemplary solution to address ongoing and escalating costs and allows a University to realise immediate savings from day one, without any upfront capital expenditure required from the University.

Furthermore, NrG attended as a sponsor and hosted an exhibition stand at the conference. It proved to be an excellent engagement opportunity to meet key persons and representatives, including Facility Managers and Directors from other Universities who inquired in detail about the information presented by NrG.

The conference was attended by a host of international guests from other educational institutions and bodies, all sharing and promoting ideas around best practice and discussed lessons learned in their various fields of expertise.

The conference hosted by University of Pretoria’s Facilities Management department was well carefully themed and through various plenary sessions and conference addressed relevant topics including Green Matters, Student Matters, Sustainability, the hotly discussed and currently debated Insourcing versus Outsourcing topic etc. The programme also included campus tours tailored to various contexts and included evening entertainment for the conference attendees.

The conference was addressed by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof de la Rey, who spoke openly about the University’s strategy called “UP 2025”, started already back in 2011 by the University which seeks to pro-actively focus and shape the University in its long-term developmental path until the year 2025. In line with these plans, Prof De la Rey spoke inter alia about current developments including the Future Africa Campus expansion and the ongoing Javed Arts Centre project.

The University must be commended for its proactive approach to engaging and addressing the many current topics that throw a lot of uncertainty on the way forward for higher education in South Africa.

Reflecting on the achievements of the conference what is clear from the HEFMA conference is that the University of Pretoria strives to be a world-class institution, recognised for its quality, relevance, and impact, is a forward-thinking institution with a clear vision and mission based on diversity and sustainability-driven values at its core.