Schneider Electric South Africa, the global specialists in energy management and automation, recently hosted a technology day in partnership Eskom to showcase their newest technology, and highlight various solutions to help the utility optimise efficiency in their plants in the future.
“A big part of Schneider Electric’s offer includes digitisation and automation, and with this new technology, and the increased risk to plants using connected devices, cybersecurity has become a big focus. We are also looking at optimising and maximising efficiencies in generation plants, where safety and reliability are key issues. When it comes to working with critical infrastructure, downtime must be kept to a minimum in order to mitigate the impact on production, and that, for us, forms an essential piece of our overall offering,” says Schneider Electric Vice President of Energy in Southern Africa, Taru Madangombe.
Key to the success of the day was understanding Eskom’s biggest challenges, as Schneider Electric works to build a long-standing partnership with the utility. Navigating through these challenges together, issues around cyber security and modular installations formed the foundation of the day’s discussions as Schneider Electric offered a number of solutions to future-proof Eskom’s operations.
“For the Eskom team, it has been exciting to get to explore some new and different views from Schneider Electric, while learning innovative ways of doing things. We are always open to innovation and new technology, and it has become critical for us to explore how our cybersecurity is being managed. This has become even more crucial as we have increased our portfolio, and so that’s where we placed most of our attention during this insightful visit to Schneider Electric,” explains Prudence Madiba, Senior Manager for Electrical, Control and Instrumentation at Eskom.
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest partner, integrator and developer community on our open platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to innovation, diversity and sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.
For more information, go to www.schneider-electric.co.za.
Economic transformation in the South African construction sector and the impact of ratings downgrades on the development and future of the industry, are topics that will be discussed at the annual Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) Congress, taking place on the 11th and 12th of September 2017 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.
The Congress, now in its 112th year, has become an important platform for addressing issues and opportunities within the South African building and construction industry with input from government, building industry leaders, economists and other relevant stakeholders. Under this year’s theme of Building South Africa Together, speakers from these and other sectors will be exploring matters currently impacting the industry.
Kicking off the Congress will be a representative from the Ministry of Economic Development, who will discuss the status of the National Infrastructure Plan along with its implications and opportunities for local contractors.
This will be followed by what is bound to be a lively panel discussion on The State of the Construction Industry in South Africa, with panellists including MBSA President, Bafikile Bonke Simelane; CEO of the Construction Sector Charter Council, Thabo Masombuka; the Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele and the General Secretary of the Black Business Council in the Built Environment, Gregory Mofokeng. The conversation will consider if the new Construction Sector Codes adequately address transformation gaps in the sector, as well as the effects of anti-competitive behaviour, amongst other issues.
The future of the industry will be unpacked throughout the course of the Congress by speakers such as Craig Lemboe, Senior Economist at the Bureau for Economic Research, who will be unveiling what’s in store for the industry and country going forward in his talk on South Africa’s Economic Outlook. The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, will also be exploring avenues for future industry growth in his address on Regional Integration for African Cooperation and Development.
The Deputy Minister will be participating in a panel discussion on Industry Opportunities together with Chairman of WBHO Construction, Mike Wylie; CEO of the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, Webster Mfebe; MBSA Executive Director, Roy Mnisi; CEO of the Built Environment Professions Export Council, Con Korsten and President of the National African Federation for the Building Industry, Aubrey Tshalata. They will be exploring construction opportunities in the region and the roles of financing institutions and voluntary associations in the development of the construction industry and increasing SMME market access.
A key feature of every Congress are the technical breakaway sessions which enable teams of experts from various aspects of the industry to debate the issues of Construction Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), Skills Developmentand Regulatory, Contractual and Legal Matters in the Construction Industry. This year’s participants will include Chief OH&S Inspector at the Department of Labour, Tibor Szana; Chief Director of Artisan Development at the Department of Higher Education, David Mabusela; and Programme Manager at the Construction Industry Development Board, Dr Rodney Milford.
Another regular highlight is the exhibition which coincides with the Congress and showcases the latest developments in and services available to the industry. This year, for the first time ever, entry will be free of charge to all contractors in and around the Western Cape.
MBSA Executive Director Roy Mnisi says: “I invite all members of the building and construction industry, suppliers and service providers to join us at this year’s Congress to learn about how we can all play a part in building South Africa together.”
Source: Master Builders South Africa
Green infrastructure is an attractive concept, but there is concern surrounding its effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using a mathematical technique traditionally used in earthquake engineering to determine how well green infrastructure works and to communicate with urban planners, policymakers and developers.
Green roofs are flat, vegetated surfaces on the tops of buildings that are designed to capture and retain rainwater and filter any that is released back into the environment.
“The retention helps ease the strain that large amounts of rain put on municipal sewer systems, and filtration helps remove any possible contaminants found in the stormwater,” said Reshmina William, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student who conducted the study with civil and environmental engineering professor Ashlynn Stillwell.
A good-for-the-environment solution to mitigating stormwater runoff may seem like a no-brainer, but a common concern regarding green roofs is the variability of their performance. One challenge is figuring out how well the buildings that hold them up will respond to the increased and highly variable weight between wet and dry conditions. Another challenge is determining how well they retain and process water given storms of different intensity, duration and frequency, William said.
While studying reliability analysis in one of her courses, William came up with the idea to use a seemingly unrelated mathematical concept called fragility curves to confront this problem.
“Earthquake engineering has a similar problem because it is tough to predict what an earthquake is going to do to a building,” William said. “Green infrastructure has a lot more variability, but that is what makes fragility curves ideal for capturing and defining the sort of dynamics involved.”
William and Stillwell chose to study green roofs over other forms of green infrastructure for a very simple reason: There was one on campus fitted with the instrumentation needed to measure soil moisture, rainfall amount, temperature, humidity and many other variables that are plugged into their fragility curve model.
“This is a unique situation because most green roofs don’t have monitoring equipment, so it is difficult for scientists to study what is going on,” Stillwell said. “We are very fortunate in that respect.”
William said the primary goal of this research is to facilitate communication between scientists, policymakers, developers and the general public about the financial risk and environmental benefit of taking on such an expense.
“One of the biggest barriers to the acceptance of green infrastructures is the perception of financial risk,” William said. “People want to know if the benefit of a green roof is going to justify the cost, but that risk is mitigated by knowing when an installation will be most effective, and that is where our model comes in.”
The results of their model and risk analysis, which appear in the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, provide a snapshot of green infrastructure performance for this particular green roof. The results from a single model do not yield a one-size-fits-all approach to green infrastructure evaluation, and William and Stillwell said that is one of the strengths of their technique. Adaptability across different technologies and environments is essential to any green infrastructure analysis.
Image Credit: Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Developers Alstom have claimed its new train manufacturing site will deliver 3,840 coaches over the next ten years
The 60,000 sqm site in the town of Dunnotar, close to Johannesburg, is currently under construction through the developer’s joint venture company Gibela.
Construction of its new manufacturing site which began on 4 March, is in order to build 580 suburban trains for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
Its site was opened in the presence of the South African Minister of Transport, Minister Dipuo Peters, the executive Mayor of the local Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Mondli Gungubeleand, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom chairman and CEO and Mr Marc Granger, Gibela chief executive Officer.
Building is expected to take 18 months and will be delivered in phases, with the very first South African-manufactured train to be completed by the end of 2017.
Alstom claim around 1,500 people will be employed at the manufacturing, assembly and testing facilities.
They say the site will include an academic training centre, large workshops, office buildings, as well as a test track and test facility required for the new trains.
Alstom Chairman and CEO Henri Poupart Lafarge said Alstom was pleased to have reached another milestone for the project.
He added, “This new factory will be a catalyst for the revitalisation of the rail industry in South Africa through local manufacturing, high local supply level, employment creation and skills development. Alstom is proud to be involved in this new era of rail in the country”.
Alstom has been present in South Africa for many years and was awarded a PRASA contract worth around US$4.3 bn in October 2013, the largest contract in the history of the company.
The contract also includes a 19-year service agreement.
The pace of green building in the hospitality sector is on the rise, and it doesn’t require making any sacrifice in the luxury of your stay away from home, according to a new report from the U.S. Green Building Council.
It’s no secret that with operations running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, hotels consume natural resources at a high rate. Representing more than 5 billion square feet of space in the United States alone, there is an enormous opportunity for the industry — and guests — to positively affect the built environment, according to the USGBC.
For years, USGBC has diligently made progress toward greening the hospitality sector. Among these efforts was the establishment of the LEED User Group for Hospitality and Venues, which engages in multifaceted dialogue and peer-to-peer collaboration to identify best practices, lessons learned and ongoing challenges for sustainability in the sector. The LEED in Motion: Hospitality report brings the dialogue to a wider network and highlights the opportunity for triple-bottom-line wins when hotels think sustainably.
Across the world, demand for green hotels is rising. Today, LEED-certified hotels of all sizes are found in more than 40 U.S. states, 31 countries and five continents. It’s a movement sparked in part by guest preferences. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 percent of travelers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 percent participated in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse program and 58 percent used recycling in the hotel.
In response to this shift, companies such as Starwood’s Elements brand, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels include LEED mandates and policies in their design and construction specs. ITC Hotels in India requires not just LEED certification, but also top performance.
Over the past 20 years, green construction has gone from a niche enterprise to a major driver of new business. But in 2016, erecting sustainable, profitable green buildings will no longer be enough to stand out. Buildings will also be expected to directly contribute to the health and wellbeing of the people who live, work and learn inside them. For buildings, healthy will become the new green.
The performance of a green building – be it energy usage, water efficiency or just lower utility bills – is important to companies looking for rental space. As this healthy revolution emerges, more of these commercial renters will start concerning themselves with a building’s impact on the performance of the humans who use it every day.
There’s already some evidence to suggest healthy buildings have positive effects on the businesses and workers who occupy them. In a recently released peer reviewed study, researchers from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment found that a building’s air quality can affect the quality of its residents’ thinking. The study demonstrated that exposure to common indoor pollutants, such as carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are found in everything from paint to carpets, can affect cognitive functions. The researchers wrote: “For seven of the nine cognitive functions tested, average scores decreased as CO2 levels increased to levels commonly observed in many indoor environments.”
At the same time, researchers found that, on average, environments with better ventilation doubled their participants’ performance, especially in critical areas such as crisis response, strategy and information usage.
As the connection between where you work and how well you work becomes better established and understood, companies that hope to differentiate themselves as employers of choice will focus on healthier buildings for their employees.
Sustainability will mean transparency
Of course, understanding the built environment also requires understanding everything in it.
Think about the room you’re in right now: you might be sitting on a couch or a chair treated with flame-retardant chemicals that are linked to memory loss or fertility problems. Your carpet might be emitting more of those VOCs, leading to throat irritation or headaches. Your wood floor might be off-gassing formaldehyde. Almost every product in your room contains chemicals that even manufacturers don’t know about or don’t completely understand. And many of these chemicals have health impacts that we have hardly begun to study.
Fortunately, transparency is coming to the building industry. Already, there has been a push for more environmental product declarations, health product declarations and other labels that disclose the makeup of building materials, along with their environmental and human health concerns. And as these standardized reporting measures become more commonplace, so too will the use of materials that prove to be less hazardous to our health.
Rating your building – and your healthWE
As healthy buildings become more mainstream, market-based rating systems such as the Well Building Standard, developed by Delos, will help businesses and building professionals use health and wellness to differentiate their spaces. The first protocol to focus specifically on health in building construction, it prescribes technology enhancements and performance-based measures in seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
Formally launched in 2014, the Well standard is administered by the International Well Building Institute, a B Corp – meaning it has been certified as providing social and environmental benefits beyond the financial bottom line – that has partnered with the Green Building Certification Institute to provide third-party certification. More than 20m square feet of real estate in 12 countries across five continents arenow Well certified or registered, according to Well’s website.
As the world continues to focus on sustainability for the sake of the planet, our definition of environmental sustainability is moving beyond flora and fauna to include the humans in the ecosystem as well. And there is no better front line than the buildings where we spend most of our time. In the coming year, buildings will no longer be considered green if they only do less harm. More of the places where we live, work and learn will begin to actively and intentionally protect and restore our health.
The city of Mumbai, India is facing quite a shortage of adequate living spaces, so a project has been proposed for a temporary housing solution in the form of a two towers made of used shipping containers. The towers were designed by CRG Architects who decided on a cylinder shape for the structures, which they deemed the best way to take into considerations the terrain and offer all the occupants great views and good ventilation.
The structures were dubbed Containscrapers and will be constructed by stacking the containers in a way that offers a larger façade, and thereby lets more light into the units. Due to the cylindrical shape of the main tower volume, the shipping containers used will also be placed in various different positions, which allows for good natural ventilation via a steady air-flow and will greatly reduce the heat in each apartment. Given the hot climate of Mumbai, and the fact that shipping containers are basically large metal boxes, this is a must.
The core of both towers will be made with containers in a vertical position, allowing elevator units to be housed in one of each of the containers in an upright position. From the renders it appears the shipping containers used to build these structures will not be modified a lot, apart from cutting out windows and doors. The shipping containers will simply be stacked in a way that grants the towers the necessary stability.
The structure will also have a number of vertical gardens placed along the height of the building. These gardens will work to separate the apartment units and aid in the dissipation of heat in the summer. The facade will also be colored according to the orientation of the buildings and in relation to the sun, namely warm colors on the south facing side, and cold colors on the north facing side. This is also meant to offset the heat buildup in the units. Still, I am not convinced that in a hot climate like this, comfortable interior temperatures can be reached without some air conditioning.
Research worldwide shows that environmentally-friendly buildings are much better for the health of the people who live and work in them, as well as for the Earth.
Buildings that are designed to cut water and energy use and make as little impact on the surrounding environment as possible make life much better for their occupants too.
Studies into 69,000 buildings − homes, offices and factories − in 150 countries show that there are fewer illnesses among residents and workers, who report they are more comfortable and happier. Employers also find they are more productive.
Companies that opt for “green” buildings gain because workers stay longer in their jobs and have fewer absences, while recruitment is easier because new employees are attracted to environmentally-friendly buildings.
Dr. Joseph Allen and fellow environmental health researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the US studied reports from across the world into the effect of green buildings on the health of the occupants. Fifteen studies are incorporated into the review, published in the journal Current Environmental Health Reports.
There are now 3.5 billion square feet (0.325 sq metres) of certified green building space available worldwide, and researchers in many different countries have been measuring the effects to see if these buildings are also “ healthier” buildings.
“Overall, the initial scientific evidence indicates better indoor environmental quality in green buildings versus non-green buildings, with direct benefits to human health for occupants of those buildings,” Allen says.
Occupants of green buildings are in general more satisfied with the indoor air quality, their workspace, building cleanliness, and maintenance in general, he adds.
The research measured internal air quality, light, noise and the presence of chemicals that might adversely affect health, as well as asking the people who live and work in them about their experience.
The information is important for future building design because, as the researchers point out, modern humans spend 90 per cent of their time indoors.
To gauge the effect on health and well-being, the scientists looked at many studies that had taken into account factors that influence health − including radiological, chemical, biological and physical aspects of indoor environmental hazards.
They looked at air quality, ventilation, filtration, lighting and acoustics, and studied the architecture, the quality of the canteens, access to natural light, and the building’s surroundings.
In residential buildings, there were fewer asthma and other respiratory illnesses among children, and across all green buildings there fewer cases of sick building syndrome symptoms, with better physical and mental health all round.
The one area that did not score better was acoustics, with several studies reporting lower satisfaction about noise levels.
Where hospitals had been constructed as green buildings, the researchers found a better quality of care for patients. In one study, there were 70 per cent fewer blood stream infections, improved record keeping, and overall patient mortality fell by 11 per cent − although the scientists were unable to pinpoint what factors produced such a startling improvement.
Leading private property company Amdec has set its sights on tripling the number of green buildings in its property portfolio over the next two years.
Having already earned Green Star SA ratings for two of its buildings in the last two years; Amdec plans to boost its pace of investing in green buildings by taking this number to six in the coming 24 months.
James Wilson, Amdec CEO, comments: “We take a multifaceted approach to sustainability and energy-efficiency. So, while we intend to pursue more Green Star SA ratings for all our new developments, and some of our existing ones, we are also adding more resource-efficient features to all our assets, whether there is a rating tool available for them or not. This helps take strain off our power grid, and our building users’ pockets, as well as being good for the environment and helping communities prosper.” By considering the bigger picture, Amdec’s green building ethos has a far-reaching positive impact. Its holistic approach to green buildings is helping to change the way people think and live.
“An important part of green building is educating and transforming communities, updating legislation and government processes, and changing how we experience development,” explains Josef Quraishi, head of sustainability and green building for the Amdec group. “Our macro view considers a building’s inherent relationship with its surrounds, ensuring it contributes to the sustainability of its community and natural setting,” explains Josef. “When we develop, we look at the broader context of investing in communities. A thriving community is good for business, the more attractive a community is, the more desirable our buildings become.”
Green building is growing apace in South Africa and Amdec, an active partner to the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), is helping it move into the future. In fact, Josef was closely involved with developing the GBCSA’s Socio Economic Category Pilot, which has been embraced by the World Green Building Council. “Our relationship with the Green Building Council has allowed us to better understand where green building is going and the components of sustainability, like energy and water benchmarking,” says Josef.
As the owners in what can undoubtedly be considered South Africa’s first sustainable green precinct, Melrose Arch, which was developed ahead of its time and before the formal green building wave began in South Africa, Amdec knows first-hand the benefits an environmentally sound foundation adds to green building. That’s because the green inner-workings of Melrose Arch support more than a single building, they underpin a whole precinct. It is here that Amdec has earned its two Green Star SA ratings: 40 on Oak was South Africa’s first multi-unit residential project certified under the Green Star SA system, with a 4-Star Green Star SA Pilot certification and The Worley Parsons TWP head office was awarded a 4-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design rating.
As part of its multiunit residential rating at 40 on Oak, Amdec cut energy consumption for each apartment by 50% and water consumption by 40% making the Melrose Arch apartments even more desirable. For the green rated office, it lowered energy consumption by 40% and water consumption by 50%. Melrose Arch will also play a leading role in its future targeted green star ratings, two of which have already been registered at GBCSA.
Melrose Arch is packed with ingenious designs and small, smart green touches that also create an enjoyable environment. It includes a central district cooling plant that utilised evaporative cooling so its buildings use less air conditioning than usual, it uses gas and has integrated recycling. Its mixed-uses and pedestrianisation reduces the need for cars, it also benefits from good access to public transport. In short, Melrose Arch is an enabling platform for sustainable buildings. It is this revelation that is inspiring Amdec to create even more environments that facilitate more green buildings
Josef tells that as companies transform the way they think about business, from being purely profit driven, to a paradigm that considers people, planet and profit, so property developers need to respond. “Blue-chip businesses want their markets to know they are doing the right thing, so occupying a green rated building is becoming a business imperative for them. Amdec is likeminded and answering the call for green rated buildings in South Africa, which has been recognised as the fastest responding country to green building in the world.”
Inefficient buildings stand to become obsolete faster, being less sustainable and Josef highlights that green buildings make for happy tenants too. “They boost productivity and profitability by creating healthy workspaces that also mean lower absenteeism. So they are commercially desirable.” Developing macro plans for green precincts can help deliver more green buildings, and bigger positive impacts.
“In fact, we are considering taking our next R4 billion mega development of a 128,000ha mixed-use suburb in Port Elizabeth, entirely off the grid,” says Josef. With soaring energy costs, clients across Amdec’s portfolio of assets, including its Evergreen Lifestyle Villages, enjoy the benefits of Amdec’s energy-efficient, water-efficient and cost-efficient focus. Amdec’s approach to green building goes beyond active green building technologies, also incorporating more subtle elements of green building in design and orientation. Of course, the commercial sustainability of a building is essential, and is typically at the forefront of every developers mind. It is fundamental to pushing the green button for a project.
For existing buildings, Josef explains that Amdec has prioritised getting ratings for single-tenants buildings. “Then we’ll move on to our multi-tenanted buildings, which can be more challenging,” says Josef. For Amdec, its green building ethos is simply good business. “With our sustainability initiatives, we’re not only helping the positive transformation of South Africa through quality green buildings, we’re also up-skilling and educating people, and applying innovative thinking to build better communities, like using material from construction excavation to rehabilitate a public park,” says Wilson.
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The World Population Bureau estimates that the population of Africa will rise from 1.1 billion in 2013 to 2.4 billion in 2050. This means that most of the continent’s economies will have to double in size in the next 36 years.
If that is to happen, then the stock of Africa’s infrastructure assets, including all of its residential, industrial and commercial buildings and power, transport and sanitation systems, will have to double in size. In other words Africa will have to be built again in a single generation.
This will require unthinkable amounts of cement, building materials, construction planning, manpower, products and services to accomplish such a momentous task. And, for this reason, infrastructure investment is providing the platform for the strong economic growth trends that will pave the way for businesses, to explore a number of exciting commercial and business development opportunities in Africa’s construction sector.
The African Construction and Totally Concrete Conferences and Expos will be returning to the Sandton Convention Centre, between 12 and 14 May 2015. These platforms not only facilitate open dialogue but provide a unique opportunity for a diverse group of professionals involved in the transformation and development of the African construction, cement and concrete industries to network, share knowledge, best practices and the latest thinking.
Africa’s only three-storey expo
The audience comprises 600 – 700 key decision-makers from Africa’s construction, cement and concrete industries who attend the conference; and over 6000 mid-to-senior level executives who visit the expo. Over 200 companies will display their products and services in the first ever 3 story expo in Africa!
“For 2015, we’re creating five unique experiences to culminate into Africa’s biggest gathering of qualified buyers and sellers for the entire cement, concrete and construction industry value chain which includes African Construction Expo, Totally Concrete Expo, Coatings for Africa, Housing for Africa and African Roads Evolution, together all 5 conferences and expos will tell the story of shaping the future of Africa’s cement, concrete and construction industries value chain.” Says Soren du Preez, 2015 Programme Director.
Over 170 speakers will present contents in a variety of formats and cover topics as diverse as 3D printing, mega-project development, self-healing concrete, pavement design, enterprise development and investment in infrastructure.
“Our stimulating conference programme pushes innovation in format delivery! We have reliably built an interactive, participant-led experience leveraging expertise and experience to create a conference that you want to be at and actively participate in!” says Du Preez.
Registration and additional information can be found at www.totallyconcrete.co.za
Resource: African Environment