The Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) is celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June with inspiration and ideas on how to bring the outdoors inside, appreciate nature and protect the natural environment that we all share.
The theme for this year is Connecting with Nature and the GBCSA invites South Africans to take positive steps – both big and small – to bring nature into their cities, workplaces and homes.
For inspiration, consider what corporates like Alexander Forbes in Sandton and the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, and hospitality businesses like Hotel Verde in Cape Town are doing to make greener spaces a reality, or the Ngewana family undertook in their own home.
Alexander Forbes’ office building at 115 West Street in Sandton, for example, has literally brought the outdoors indoors with their beautifully landscaped garden reception area, while 58% of the office area has natural daylight levels sufficient to allow the electric lights to be turned off during daylight hours.
The developers of the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre showed considerable sensitivity to nature: care was taken to integrate the building into the landscape and landscapers went to great lengths to protect and relocate indigenous trees that were on site before construction.
Hotel Verde is living up to its claim of being the greenest hotel in Africa. With a whole host of nature-loving innovations, you can literally immerse yourself in nature just steps from Cape Town International Airport. The hotel boasts an indigenous roof garden that also acts as a thermal barrier, an organic food garden and vertical aquaponics set-up that provide all the fresh produce required by the kitchen, and a chemical-free eco pool for guests to cool down in. The developer also rehabilitated the wetlands adjacent to the hotel to the extent that it is now a green lung in the Airport Industria precinct and is host to over 100 species of indigenous and endemic vegetation, an ecotrail, outdoor gym and two beehives housing over 60 000 Cape Honey Bees.
Interestingly, all Green Star SA new buildings tools have a credit specifically designed to protect nature – the Eco-Conditional Requirement – which aims to encourage and recognise development on land that has limited ecological value, and discourage development on or adjacent to ecologically sensitive sites. This credit recognises that humans need to exist alongside, and with minimal impact to nature, so discourages damage to or infringement of vegetation of high ecological value, or indigenous natural vegetation that is in its untransformed state; threatened or protected species, including flora and fauna; and watercourses of high ecological value, which include those deemed significant under a local, provincial or national register and registered wetlands.
But GBCSA Chief Executive Officer Dorah Modise points out that it’s not only corporates and hotels that should be investing in greener spaces: everyone can make small changes towards greener buildings and healthier lifestyles, without a large outlay of capital or time.
“Think baby steps: bring more greenery inside, for instance, or make sure there is as much natural light as possible inside your building,” says Modise. “Plant as many plants as you have space for – whether that’s a pot plant on the window sill or indigenous gardens outside – or a herb or vegetable garden.”
A great example of this is how the Ngewana family transformed their backyard into a herb and vegetable garden, as part of the GBCSA MyGreenHome project. Read more about this and more at www.mygreenhome.org.za.
“Making a concerted effort to spend as much time as possible in nature is beneficial on so many levels – it’s good for physical and mental wellbeing and relationships, plus it helps to remind us to live in harmony with our fellow beings. Our natural systems are also responsible for keeping our planet in a healthy livable state, so for the sake of our children we must preserve nature, whilst at the same time enjoy spending time in nature.”
“A good way to start is to join us in celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June 2017. We will be helping create the world’s biggest nature photo album, and you can too by snapping selfies of yourselves connecting with nature and tagging @GBCSA and #WithNature and #WorldEnvironmentDay,” concludes Modise.
FOURWAYS – South Africa’s recycling and economic development initiative, Redisa gives shocking insights on the fact of recycling.
Recycling and Economic Development Initiative South Africa (Redisa) is passionate about cleaning the environment and believes it is up to all South Africans to take responsibility and ensure a clean environment for future generations.
In line with International Recycling Day’s aim to increase awareness by educating communities about the environmental and economic benefits of recycling, Redisa is driving the message of waste into worth and of how environmental conservation can ensure the effective long-term management of waste.
“As an initiative focused on encouraging people to find the value that can be derived from waste, Redisa is committed to educating consumers about the importance of recycling and re-using products. We have seen great success in the tyre industry, by implementing a circular economy approach, which ensures that nothing goes to waste and reduces the reliance on natural resources,” said Stacey Davidson, director at Redisa.
“This can be achieved by looking at consumer products beyond the end of their accepted lifecycle. Re-introducing them into the economy will go a long way towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for new product development,” said Davidson.
Many of the earth’s natural resources are close to critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, due to high population growth and economic development. If current consumption and production patterns remain the same, with the population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, we will need three planets to sustain our current way of life.
Currently, South Africa produces 108 million tons of waste per year. A total of 90 per cent of that waste ends up in landfills and only 10 per cent of waste is currently recycled.
South Africa’s landfills are rapidly running out of space and it is clear that the only solution lies in recycling and repurposing our waste. International Recycling Day aims to increase awareness by educating all South Africans about the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and help them to understand the difference between recyclables and non-recyclables.
Examples of what you can recycle:
- Cereal boxes
- Tissue boxes
- Office paper
- Small appliances – such as toasters, irons, pots, pans
Examples of what you cannot recycle:
- Nappies and sanitary towels
- Cigarette buds
Ashake-up to the mining code in South Africa could have a far-reaching impact on miners listed in the UK, amid fears the government there will try to impose onerous new requirements around company ownership.
A new version of the mining charter is expected to propose raising the mandatory black ownership of mining assets from 26pc to 30pc under the government’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiative.
But the mining industry is particularly worried about a second proposal, which would require miners to maintain 30pc black ownership even when the original BEE holders have sold their stake.
Under the original charter, mandated in 2004, miners only need “empower” their assets once.
South Africa’s Chamber of Mines has threatened legal action against the government if it imposes the new conditions, which it says will deter much-needed foreign investment and have been drafted with little consultation from the industry.
The new charter – which is months overdue and has been the subject of disagreement within the ruling ANC party – was approved by the cabinet in draft last week and is expected to be made public in a matter of weeks.
Mining contributed SAR286bn (£17bn) to the South African economy, or 7.1pc of its GDP, in 2015. London-listed companies Anglo American, Lonmin, Glencore and Petra all operate in South Africa.
Anglo boss Mark Cutifani has called on the government to ensure that the charter encourages investment. Earlier this year he told The Telegraph that investors would feel that promises had been broken if the government changed the BEE threshold.
“Anglo American is and remains committed to meeting South Africa’s transformation objectives and has been a longstanding and major contributor to transformation,” he added.
“These proposed changes will send a shudder down the backs of investors,” said Kieron Hodgson, analyst at Panmure Gordon.
Hunter Hilcoat, analyst at Investec, added: “We should be alarmed, not only by the BEE threshold increases but by several potential aspects, including the re-empowerment requirements.”
Ready to commute in style? BMW just unveiled a futuristic, zero-emission motorbike at the Concorso D’eleganza Villa D’este, showing us what the motorcycle of the future looks like. Modeled after the BMW Motoradd Vision Next 100, the design is both sleek and functional and is perfect for those who want to get around in urban settings in a sustainable way.
The BMW Motorrad Concept Link may look like a scooter, but it is anything but. The motorbike has a low-slung, stretched body with a flat seat and, according to the company, “is ideally suited to meet the requirements of modern urban mobility with fast acceleration and easy handling.”
Getting on the electric bike is easy due to its low overall height. Additionally, a reverse gear ensures it is easy to maneuver and park in tight city spaces. Clear lines, large-area surfaces, and precise shapes play a part in emphasizing the bike’s state-of-the-art look. All colors are oriented diagonally to underline the dynamic potential of the ride. A touch of futurism is added to the bike with iconic LEC front lights, a clear-cut layout, and slim contours.
A feature that sets the BMW Motorrad Concept Link apart from other motorbikes is the fact that information such as speed, remaining charge, and navigation information is projected right onto the windscreen. If one desires, they can swap out the windscreen for alternate versions with different options. There is also a secondary display below the handlebars that offers touchscreen input. The handlebars also have built-in touch sensitive controls that ensure easy access to favorite features while commuting.
Experts predict autonomous vehicles will save money and lives but drivers say human knowledge and experience are irreplaceable
Frank Black has a simple message for those who predict truckies like him are done for thanks to the arrival of self-driving vehicles: good luck getting tech support in the outback.
For more than 30 years the Brisbane truck driver has hauled goods across the vast expanses of Australia, keeping watch for fast-bouncing kangaroos, felled eucalyptus trees, and other natural obstacles littering remote highways that can run for thousands of kilometres without a single bend.
Morgan Stanley might have forecast that freight operators could save $168bn a year by replacing humans with vehicles that drive themselves with no need for toilet breaks or sleep, and Uber last year may have bought an automated truck firm with the intention to roll out a global service, but Black remains at ease with his job security.
He predicts any freight companies that go down that road in Australia will find their expensive automated vehicles stuck out in the middle of nowhere, awkwardly parked in front of an obstacle that requires human ingenuity to work around.
“The conditions of the road out there, you’ve got to have your wits about you,” he says. “An automated truck would probably have a hissy fit, where a human would realise, ‘OK, I might have to detour off-road into the gully to get around it.’
“Truckies can use their sense of smell, too. If the engine starts to get hot, you can smell the coolant and go, ‘Hang on, something’s going on here,’ [and] pull over before something catastrophic happens.”
The harsh conditions faced by truckers on the job might seem to Black an argument for retaining human imagination but to proponents of automated vehicles they are a case for the opposite: machine intelligence immune to the fallibilities of drivers who routinely make deadly fatigue-related mistakes or resort to amphetamines to stay alert.
It is a theory that has been put into practice in Australia: Rio Tinto has been relying on a fleet of driverless trucks at its iron ore mines in the Pilbara for years, yielding performance improvements of 12%.
A PWC study in 2015 predicted an 80% chance that Australia’s 94,946 professional drivers of road and rail vehicles would be replaced by automation in the next two decades. The prospect has union officials extremely concerned.
The Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, warns that freight operators need to be “careful not to get carried away with the Jetsons”, arguing that trucks driving themselves in a controlled environment like a mine is one thing, but that significant improvements would need to be made to the technology and to smart road infrastructure before such vehicles could zoom unattended through cities and towns.
He references Fiat Chrysler’s recall this month of 1.2m trucks owing to software vulnerability to being hacked as an example of the kind of dangers that would be exacerbated by self-driving freight.
“There is a serious question about the capacity for this technology to be hijacked by terrorism or some random lunatic,” he says.
“These aren’t washing machines we are talking about. These are machines carting thousands of litres of fuel, tens of tonnes worth of product that could plough through a house.”
The chair of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, concedes the transition to self-driving vehicles “won’t occur in one leap”. Instead he describes a gradual process starting with the autonomous braking technology being rolled out across the industry, and a trial this year in Western Australia of “platooning”, which would see the lead truck in a convoy control the others through vehicle-to-vehicle communication to synchronise speed and braking.
“There will be drivers in the cabs of our trucks for many years to come,” he says.
“The immediately foreseeable future of truck automation won’t involve replacing drivers anyway, and our road network requires considerable work before even current technologies become usable everywhere. In addition, truck drivers carry out a host of other essential tasks, including loading and unloading, checking vehicles and working with customers.”
Crouch says the transition will be one of the talking points at the Trucking Australia 2017 conference in Darwin in June.
Brendan Richards, a partner at the corporate restructuring firm Ferrier Hodgson, will speak there on disruptive technologies.
Richards’ talk will cover a broad range of changes he believes will impact on the freight sector by 2050.
In terms of autonomous vehicles, he predicts self-navigating drones of all shapes and forms will open up routes previously inaccessible to human drivers.
He can foresee an operating system that would run the network, optimising routes and the flow of goods through the system.
Richards also forecasts that drones will be better equipped to provide a nimbler freight service that no longer needs to move bulk goods around, as most things will be produced on-site by 3D printers that only require the delivery of raw materials.
If self-driving vehicles – whether that is lumbering autonomous trucks driving for days without rest or airborne drones zipping across the skies – do push human drivers into unemployment queues, unions want compensation.
Sheldon says the vast numbers of jobs predicted for the scrapheap because of automation require a serious rethinking of how society approaches work.
“When I was a garbo, I was replaced by vehicles that had arms,” he says. “It was hard seeing mates displaced by technology in their 30s and 40s. It was a dramatic, traumatic experience – and there were still plenty of other jobs back then.”
In the case of truckers, he suggests a licensing fee be paid by those replacing humans with self-driving vehicles, to go towards those displaced by the new technology.
It will be hard work persuading truckies like Black to relinquish the wheel, however. He is not even open to a transition period of self-driving technology working in tandem with human operators.
“There’d be no way you’d put me in a vehicle without putting me in control of it,” he says.
“Even in the case of trusting another person, I’d want to get to know them first before going great distances with them. Believe it or not, there are bad human drivers out there too. They should look at better driver training, not these driverless bloody things.”
Metals are a core component of green technology, yet the gathering and refining of metals is far from being environmentally friendly due to air and water pollution, as well as damage to natural habitats. It’s an ongoing quandary for the metals industry and the world.
How Governments Push Back
Governments generally regulate mining to limit its impact on the environment. Certain countries, such as El Salvador and China, have begun to expand regulations in response to environmental factors. China increased its regulation of the metal industry to reduce air pollution, which has led to the country’s ongoing problem with smog. New regulations resulted in the closing of metal refineries, plants and mines.
El Salvador chose to ban all faucets of metal production last month in lieu of revised regulations. The unprecedented move resulted from the country’s limited supply of available clean water, which new mines could potentially pollute.
Decisions such as China’s and El Salvador’s emphasize the growing importance of the environment, renewable energy and environmentally-friendly practices to a government and its constituents.
How Metal Is Giving Back
- Metal is essential for green technology. Companies focused on green technology rely on metals to make products like wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles.
- Raw metals, such as copper, aluminum and especially lithium have grown in demand due to their use in environmentally-friendly products. All three of these metals are used by manufacturers of electric cars.
- Metal alloys assist in the production of green products, as well as extending the longevity of items. Since each alloy has unique physical and mechanical properties, they can be used in different ways.
- Aluminum alloy is used for alloy wheels because it’s lightweight and resistant to corrosion, which reduces gas mileage for non-electric cars and extends the lifetime of the wheel for both electric and non-electric cars.
- Metal is a crucial component of green products and initiatives, which complicates its position in a world that’s becoming more conscious of the environment.
How Science Is Fighting Back
Scientists recognize the metal industry’s unique situation and its invaluable role in green technology. Many have begun research into ways to reduce the industry’s sizeable carbon footprint and make it more environmentally friendly.
One method, developed by an MIT researchers, produces metals and other alloys without carbon emissions. Another method creates green technology for cooling products, which release gases that contribute to global warming, through a new type of alloy. A third method makes more durable and longer lasting alloys for large-scale building and engineering projects.
Another series of methods or tactics focus on sustainability practices, which many companies in the metal industry have adopted.
In the U.S., these practices include government programs, such as the Lean and Clean Advantage, which analyzes and reviews a company’s processes and resulting waste and provides alternatives for reducing waste.
The metal industry occupies a unique position in today’s greener world. It’s necessary in a variety of products, including green technology, and it’s often considered the alternative to throwaway, plastic products, such as straws. Its production and refinement contributes to global warming and pollution.
How the industry responds to alternatives and initiatives by scientists and governments will directly impact its future with the governments that control and grant access to resources the industry needs to thrive.
So far, the metal industry is conducive to being more environmentally-conscious. Aside from participating in government initiatives, the industry has begun to publish magazines, host trade shows and support conferences that focus on environmentally-friendly practices.
After considering more than 15 submissions, Deloitte has awarded the tender to develop its sizeable purpose-developed offices in Gauteng to Atterbury. Atterbury is developing the new Deloitte Gauteng office on behalf of a 50/50 joint venture between co-owners Atterbury and JSE-listed real estate capital growth fund Attacq Limited.
Deloitte’s new premises will be developed in Waterfall in Midrand. The total estimated development cost is in excess of R1bn.
Mike Jarvis, chief operating officer of Deloitte Africa, says: “The consolidation of our Johannesburg and Pretoria offices into one Gauteng office in Waterfall City promises to be an exciting journey. We are quickly outgrowing both existing office spaces and are now in a position to bring together approximately 3,700 of our people into one, new, custom-designed building in what is clearly an attractive corporate destination. Deloitte is constantly looking for ways in which our people can make a meaningful impact to our clients, talent and communities. This move will help us do exactly that by gearing our operations to attract the best talent and serve our expanding market.”
Silver LEED Green Rating
The premises will comprise 42,500m2 of quality workspace, which will consolidate Deloitte’s current Woodmead and Pretoria offices in a single central location. The building has space capacity for close to 5,000 people.
The office premises will consist of a ground floor with six storeys of offices and four basement parking levels including nearly 2,000 parking bays. Commercial architecture practice Aevitas designed the new Deloitte headquarters, which will comply with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Rating on completion.
Bulk earthworks for the project will start in August 2017, with construction commencing on Deloitte’s new Gauteng office in the final quarter of this year. The development will be complete in the first quarter of 2020. Deloitte will begin operating from its new South African base from April 2020.
The World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) taking place in Durban till Friday shows that South Africa continues to be a gateway to the rest of Africa, says Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
During a roundtable discussion on “blue economies” South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa shared lessons on how African nations can utilize water resources, such as rivers and oceans, as pathways to reach markets and also use them to create more economic opportunities.
Several films have been confirmed including International Emmy Award Winning Director Rehad Desai’s The Giant is Falling, which will premiere in Durban at the People’s Economic Forum.
Unlocking industrial activity and intra-Africa trade, as well as growing Africa’s share of global trade is crucial for continental development, in his view.
The South African President noted many African youths lack rare skills which makes them unemployable.
Dozens of activists are demanding that delegates who are now attending the World Economic Forum on Africa be sent home in the same manner that President Jacob Zuma was during Monday’s May Day rally. These thoughts lead into this year’s theme of responsive and responsible leadership.
President Edgar Lungu will be accompanied Minister of Commerce and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of Energy, David Mabumba and Presidential Affairs Minister, Freedom Sikazwe.
The Africa Competitiveness Report combines data from the Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) with studies on employment policies and city competitiveness.
Mr Mwamba said the President is among regional leaders that include President Jacob Zuma as host; SADC chairperson, King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland; President of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi; President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni; and President of Namibia Hage Geingbo, among others. The forum met in Pretoria on 3 May 2017 where the circular economy was also discussed amongst other issues of mutual interest.
Past year the focus was on how Africa can benefit from the massive technological changes happening in the world – termed The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The meeting has on its agenda initiatives for economic growth and social inclusion, digital economy and society, education gender and work, food security and agriculture, environment and natural resource security, health and healthcare and long-term investing and infrastructure.
What we may see as waste, others see as a resource.
How it works
The privatisation of the country’s ports, railways, roads and other transport infrastructure has proved a thorny issue in South Africa over many years. Attempts to encourage private sector operation have generally produced a great deal of opposition.
Transnet’s proposals, therefore, carry political connotations. Yet at a time when the parastatal is being asked to do more and more but government finances are weak, it may have more success in gaining official backing for its policy.
In addition, its revenues have been affected by a three-year downturn in the price of the main dry bulk commodities it carries: coal and iron ore. Prices may have recovered somewhat but the outlook is still uncertain. Transnet is certainly one of the biggest companies on the African continent, although it is difficult to make a precise comparison because it is entirely state owned.
It is important to remember that one of the country’s biggest port facilities is already privately owned. Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) is owned by some of South Africa’s biggest coal mining companies, with smaller stakes held by empowerment interests.
Private sector companies also provide a wide range of logistics services, with Grindrod, in particular, developing a network covering the whole country and beyond. Grindrod is also expanding its own coal terminal at Richards Bay.
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama first announced the policy at the eThekwini Maritime Cluster’s annual maritime summit in Durban in early April and the approach has been fleshed out since then. Gama said that the country needs R400bn ($30.25bn) in new logistics infrastructure but Transnet was unable to pay for it alone, so at least 25% should come from the private sector, which he believed had the required capital at its disposal.
Transnet has been criticised in recent years for its high port charges in comparison with many other countries around the world. However, Gama says that his company merely prices according to market conditions, while many other ports benefit from government subsidies. Indeed, according to the World Bank Global Logistics Competitiveness Report, South Africa is regarded as more competitive than China, India, Russia or Brazil.
Focus on Durban
By far the biggest planned Transnet project is the construction of a brand new container port on the site of the old Durban International Airport, about 25km south of Durban. However, given current financial constraints and lower than expected trade volumes, there is no fixed timetable for its development. At present, Transnet is focusing on improving its infrastructure elsewhere.
Work will begin this year on deepening three berths at Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 from 12.8 metres to 16.5 metres. This will allow access for the new generation of Super Post Panamax vessels at low tide as well as high tide.
The chief executive of TNPA, Richard Vallihu, said: “The continued investment in infrastructure and modernisation of our flagship Port of Durban is pivotal in meeting the ever increasing demands of the maritime industry, in particular, the ever increasing size of container vessels pulling into our ports.”
The company is also seeking to improve the efficiency of its operations in ways that do not require capital outlay. For instance, at the start of April it introduced an appointment system for the delivery of containers at Durban’s Pier 1.
Haulage companies are required to book a slot for delivery in order to spread activity over the course of the week, avoid congestion and reduce allegations that drivers pay bribes to avoid the queues that build up at peak times. Transnet has set a goal of ensuring that all trucks are processed within 35 minutes.
Some freight forwarders oppose the policy, arguing that they cannot be so precise as they are subject to delays from their own customers. Transnet Port Terminals’ general manager for container operations in KwaZulu-Natal, Julani Dube, said: “We have done the necessary research and tracked all movements and transactions over the past year to know where the problems are and what is realistically achievable if we get the necessary buy-in from stakeholders to implement the container appointment system.”