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Global green building is expected to double by 2018 as companies continue to invest in renewable technologies

According to a study (see attachment) entitled, World Green Building Trends 2016, Developing Markets Accelerate Global Green Growth, the percentage of companies expected to have more than 60 per cent of their building projects certified green is anticipated to more than double by 2018, from 18 per cent currently, to 37 per cent.

The anticipated growth will largely be driven by countries that still have developing green markets, with firms from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China and India reporting dramatic growth in the percentage of their projects that they expect to certify as green.

The study, from Dodge Data & Analytics and United Technologies Corporation, on which the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) was a research partner, features the results of more than 1,000 building professionals from 69 countries – including Green Building Councils and their corporate members, from architects and contractors, to owners and engineers.

The study identified a green project that is either certified or built to qualify for certification under a recognised green standard, such as LEED, BREEAM, the DGNB System, Green Star and many other tools.

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Other key findings from the report include:

  • Global green building continues to double every three years.
  • Brazil expects six-fold growth in the percentage of companies that expect to certify the majority of their projects green (from 6 per cent to 36 per cent); five-fold growth is expected in China (from 5 per cent to 28 per cent); and four-fold growth is expected in Saudi Arabia (from 8 per cent to 32 percent).
  • Building owners report seeing a median increase of 7 per cent in the value of their green buildings compared to traditional buildings (an increase that is consistent between new green buildings and those that are renovated green).
  • The most widely reported benefit globally
is lower operating costs. But around 30 per cent of respondents also consider documentation and certification providing quality assurance, education of occupants about sustainability, and higher value at the point of sale as additional benefits which are important in their markets.
  • The top sector for green building growth globally is commercial construction, with nearly half (46 per cent) of all respondents expecting to do a green commercial project in the next three years.
  • Reducing energy consumption continues to be the top environmental reason for building green (selected as one of the top two reasons by 66 per cent of all respondents), protecting natural resources ranked second globally (37 per cent), and reducing water consumption ranked third (at 31 per cent).

Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC, and who is interviewed as a thought leader in the study, said: “This study offers further evidence on the strong business case for green building – the growth of which is now truly a global phenomenon. Green building is playing
 a critical role in the development
 of many emerging economies, particularly as their populations grow and create a pressing need for a built environment that is both sustainable and ensures a high quality of life.

“Green Building Councils and their members around the globe will play a pivotal role in delivering this projected growth, and their leadership and expertise will be vital in realising the multiple social, economic and environmental benefits that green buildings offer.”

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Source: racplus


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Norway’s 2016 Youth Olympics student housing is a passive house block clad in sustainable wood

Students attending the upcoming 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Norway will be accommodated in four blocks designed in line with the passivhaus principles. The buildings are beautifully clad in durable wood and able to resist the harsh winter weather of the Gudbrandsdal region. Henning Larsen Architects and SGB designed the student housing named SOPP (short for Studentsamskipnaden i Oppland) and enveloped it in Kebony, which is an environmentally friendly softwood produced in Norway.

The uniformly-clad buildings are punctured with the windows of the 360 apartments, which will be accupied by around 1,100 young athletes from 70 nations. The athletes will gather for 10 days to compete in 15 traditional winter disciplines. The 18.2-square-meter and 18.4-square-meter flats amount to a total floor area of around 13,000 square meters. Each unit contains an en suite bathroom and kitchenette, and has acess to a shared social room.

Sustainability was the main goal during the design process, resulting in a project that meets the passive house requirements, with minimized energy consumption and sustainable materials. A new heating plant will produce all of the heat needed for internal heating and hot water.

Due to the harsh weather, the architects decided to use a more resilient type of cladding which wouldn’t deteriorate over time. In addition to its durability, Kebony softwood has many environmental benefits: it has no harmful effects on the environment and requires almost no maintenance.

Source: inhabitat


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More big companies participate in the 49M Business Energy Rating Index

Three more large organizations have demonstrated their commitment to the energy cause by becoming the latest corporates to participate in the 49M Business Energy Efficiency Index. Sun International, MMI Holdings and Tiger Brands (Consumer Brands, Grains and International) have submitted their information on their annual

Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!
Book your seat now to avoid disappointment!

energy consumption, less than a month after 49M launched its first Business Energy Rating Index. 49M released the new Business Energy Rating Index for corporates, retail and industrial businesses to encourage energy efficiency among businesses across the country and to contribute towards the development of sustainable business practices.

The 49M Business Energy Rating Index measure the electricity consumption of South African companies in terms of various parameters, the first of which being the usable space (all under roof operations excluding garages and store rooms as per SANS1544) occupied by the company in its buildings and operations. This provides an indication of the company’s energy efficiency, expressed as a function of electricity consumption per square metre of usable space.

All companies, including those that are already reporting on sustainability are urged to participate. By calculating the energy rating of companies and listing them on an energy rating index, it becomes possible to establish trends of efficiency measures within various sectors. The Index is part of 49M’s continuous call to all businesses to do their bit to save energy as the country’s power system remain constraint. The Index can be viewed at business.49M.co.za. Requests to participate in the 49M Business Energy Efficiency Index can also be submitted via the website.

The Index will be updated quarterly as more organisations provide information to participate.

Participating companies  & Company Rating

Discovery – 376.68

Gold Fields – 118.34

Imperial Holdings – 163.94

Investec plc and Ltd – 257.00

Massmart – 211.90

MMI Holdings – 255.12

Murray & Roberts Holdings – 124.45

Netcare – 304.93

Pick n Pay Holdings – 345.23

Santam – 133.40

Spar Group – 156.69

Sun International – 253.39

The Foschini Group – 209.00

Tiger Brands – 243.97

Woolworths Holdings – 292.10

Source: 49M


 

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Dealing with power-guzzling data centres

Data centres have for years been known to be excessive consumers of power, consuming up to 3% of all global electricity production, and roughly ten times more per square metre than the average office.

Previously, energy efficiency wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of an information technology (IT) organisation’s priority list, but rising power costs, and an ongoing need for more hardware and equipment as well as booming data consumption is changing the way data centre operators are planning and running their facilities.

This interview with Peter Greaves – Aurecon’s Expertise Leader, Data & ICT Facilities, explores why data centres consume so much energy; how design principles can help minimise a data centre’s energy needs; dealing with load-shedding; and possible future trends that may help reduce energy consumption.

As the uptake of data centres increases globally, there are rising concerns around the availability of electricity to support this trend. Why do data centres consume so much energy?

Data centres are complex environments that have been created to house IT equipment. Within these, the primary driver of energy consumption is the IT equipment itself. The IT equipment that supports a data centre includes communication systems, storage systems and other IT systems such as processors, server power supplies, network infrastructure and hardware, computers, Uninterrupted Power Supply and connectivity systems.

Most of the energy that is consumed within a data centre needs to pass through various stages of distribution before it can be used by IT systems. This energy is converted to heat, which is why these facilities require a significant amount of cooling.

As server densities continue to rise, cooling systems are under increased pressure in order to keep IT equipment and servers cool enough for them to operate efficiently. If temperatures or the humidity is too high, IT equipment can be damaged and tape media errors can occur.

There are a number of opportunities available that can help IT organisations and data centre developers optimise their energy consumption. What do these include?

Examples of these opportunities are the virtualisation and the use of ARM-based processors, which are designed to perform a smaller number of types of computer instructions so that they can operate at a higher speed. This provides outstanding performance at a fraction of the power. The technological development of both these options is making them a viable solution, but they are still outside of the remit of most data centre developers.

Good practical management of data centre space is still a suitable, basic way of reducing energy consumption. Making use of aisle containment systems, installing blanking panels into unused rack slots and providing brushed grommets into raised floor penetrations are all simple, yet effective energy saving methods that can be implemented but they are still forgotten in many smaller facilities.

Implementing aggressive power usage effectiveness (PUE) targets will also drive more energy saving initiatives and improvements within data centres. New facilities will find it easier to implement PUE targets as high efficiency equipment can be selected to reduce parasitic load requirements.

Implementing low PUE targets, such as energy efficient lighting, in existing facilities is also achievable, but it takes more financial backing and careful planning to realise. When equipment needs to be replaced, more energy efficient options can also be chosen, for example.

Cooling systems in data centres seem to be the largest power guzzler. Do you believe that more data centres could be using natural cooling and night cooling opportunities to save energy?

Free cooling opportunities are possible in many locations, including in South Africa, especially if the air temperature that is supplied is in line with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines (18°C-27°C).

With supply air temperatures of up to 27°C, we need outside air temperatures at 25°C or less in order to get significant benefits from free cooling. Data centre managers then need to decide whether they are going to use direct or indirect free-cooling. I tend to prefer indirect free-cooling via a heat wheel or heat exchanger as outside air contaminants or humidity levels do not restrict the use of free-cooling.

There’s definitely more opportunities to use this type of indirect free-cooling in certain areas of South Africa, particularly where the temperature falls below 19°C and the humidity is below 60 RH (relative humidity) for more than 2 500 hours per year.

Is running a data centre at a higher ambient temperature (than has been the norm to date) a practical option to reduce energy consumption that is needed for cooling?

Operators are still concerned about the efficiency of their data centres when they walk into a hot aisle. This perception, however, is gradually changing and people are becoming used to the idea that a hot aisle isn’t necessarily a problem.

Warmer data centres do pose a health and safety concern because anyone working in elevated temperatures cannot work for extended periods. Health and safety in warmer data centres can be managed by limiting the need to access the hot aisle, either through use of specific chimney type racks, or arranging all connections and operator works to be located in the cold aisle.

Elevated temperatures need some form of aisle containment in order to achieve optimal efficiency and this can cause problems for code compliances. Installing a sprinkler and gas suppression system can be problematic because enclosed aisles can create an extra layer of infrastructure with the associated costs.

How will load shedding – if it is implemented on an ongoing basis – affect data centres?

Load shedding will drive a greater level of reliance on the backup generator systems that are installed in data centres.

Facility operators will need to carefully manage fuel delivery protocols and facilities that have better supply chain management systems will run less risk once fuel demand ramps up. On-site fuel quantities will be a key asset with longer storage requirements becoming commonplace to deal with any local disruptions.

If load shedding is generally implemented, facilities with co-generation energy systems will become more viable as they will be able to reduce their cost base substantially in comparison to operators that are running exclusively on diesel supplies.

Older facilities that have standby rated generator systems will need to consider downgrading their generator capacity as they will effectively be running in prime or continuous operational modes, favouring facilities rated to the Uptime Institute (a standardised methodology used by data centres as a way to measure their performance and return on investment) as they will have been designed to cater for this requirement.

Can some activities in a data centre be timed to take place after peak hours?

It is possible for some users to schedule key processing tasks to occur on an overnight cycle, however, this is limited by the business type and probably isn’t a workable solution for most operators. Other options to consider include:

• Provision of energy storage systems may provide some ability to defer energy usage to off- peak periods;
• Larger battery strings could provide an alternative to diesel generation; however, continuous deep cycling of batteries will significantly reduce their lifespan, necessitating early change out;
• Use of capacitor banks may be a viable alternative to batteries. These banks could be charged overnight for progressive use throughout the day. As the level gets low, the engines could be kicked in to replace or supplement; and/or
• Cooling storage may be a more viable alternative to reduce the mechanical cooling loads; however, some form of free cooling would probably negate the benefit of this.

As data centres are largely run off UPSs, to what extent could solar power be used to keep the UPSs charged?

A lot of solar panels would be needed to reduce the amount of electricity from the grid that most data centres would need. The most likely application is to reduce the demand on the grid by a percentage.

Although solar energy could supply a data centre with energy, it would need to be ramped up to be usable by the UPS. At this time, I would be very hesitant to suggest that this is a potential solution due to the inherent unreliability of solar energy.

Big operators like Google, however, are making use of solar energy by establishing solar generation plants that offset their data centre usage on the grid. The use of small panel arrays coupled with battery storage could be used to reduce the parasitic loads on site that are non-critical such as fuel polishing, engine heaters, office air conditioning and lighting.

How do you think data centre design and development in South Africa will change in the future?

Data centres in South Africa are in the early, exciting stages of development. As such, owners and operators are in an advantageous position to integrate sustainable and, importantly, cost-effective energy solutions such as wind energy to significantly drive energy costs down.

If we look at what big operators are achieving overseas, then we are in the ideal position to start designing and developing more sustainable facilities.  For example, Google’s data centre in Hamina, Finland, is aiming to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral and it recently signed a deal with a wind farm operator in Sweden to power its Finnish facility with wind turbines.

Companies like Google are always looking for a competitive edge. They are looking for smarter solutions in their engineering for a variety of things including data centres, corporate headquarters and research and development facilities. Wind investment is just another competitive solution, but there are many more.

As South African data centres continue to develop, I predict that a growing number of operators will be more willing to tackle sustainability challenges head-on and incorporate more progressive solutions into their data centre designs and development.

Source: African Environment


 

Energy-Resource

 

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Energy Efficient Reclaimed Modern House

A home that comes close to being Net Zero is highly sustainable just based on that alone, but Reclaimed Modern house designed by architecture firm Dwell Developments goes a step further, as it is also constructed from reclaimed wood, concrete and metal. It is located in the Columbia City area of Seattle, Washington.

The Reclaimed Modern home measures 3,140 square feet (290 square meters), has four bedrooms, a separate garage, and a spacious rooftop deck. It was built primarily from materials with a high amount of recycled content, while they also reused lots of materials collected from demolition sites of older buildings.

These repurposed building materials include metal and wood from a deconstructed barn in the nearby Willamette Valley. The corrugated metal they collected from this barn was turned into exterior cladding of the house, as well as to build the garden fence. The overhang above the rooftop deck was made from repurposed barn wood. The builders also used repurposed concrete for the pathway leading to the home, and they reclaimed this from a removed public sidewalk.

Reclaimed Modern home is fitted with a 7.29 kW rooftop mounted solar array, which the designers hoped would be enough to give this home a net zero level of energy consumption. Since it has only been lived in for a short time, there is no actual data to show whether they have succeeded. But the home has a HERS score of 15, which is excellent and the designers are also planning on adding another 4 kW of solar panels , which should bring this score to 0.

The builders also applied Enviro-Dri coating to the exterior of the home, which forms a weather-resistant barrier and seals the building against moisture. The home was also fitted with triple-glazed windows, while a blower test revealed wall airtightness to be at 2.5 at 50. The house took nine months to complete and was finished in October 2014.

Source: Jetson Green


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The African City That Is More Sustainable Than San Francisco

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There’s a new list of the world’s most sustainable cities, and not one American metropolis made the top 10.

European cities dominate the Sustainable Cities Index, which ranks the top 50 cities in the world based on their environmental, social, and economic viability. The list is based on factors grouped into three broad categories: “profit,” “people,” and “planet.”

Overall, seven of the top 10 cities that scored the highest on the list are in Europe, with self-proclaimed “Green City” Frankfurt, Germany, holding down first place, thanks to its waste management efforts, climate protection plans, and large city forest. London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, Netherlands, round out the top five.

World's Most Sustainable Cities
(Infographic: Courtesy SustainableCitiesIndex.com)
Via: TakePart.com

The list was released on Monday by Netherlands-based design and engineering firm Arcadis, with an index based on 20 indicators, ranging from income gap to total green space areas.

Boston, the highest ranking of any U.S. city, took 15th place. But it made the grade because of its especially strong showing under profit. When it came to environmental factors such as energy consumption, carbon emissions, and use of green space, Boston and all U.S. cities rated relatively low.

The reason? Energy-hungry cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia get only a small amount of their power from renewable energy. That puts them more in the company of oil-rich Middle Eastern cities such as Dubai, UAE, and Doha, Qatar, than with European cities, which tend to obtain a significant percentage of their electricity from low-carbon sources.

San Francisco ranked No. 1 in North America on Siemens’ 2014 Green City Index but came in at 37 in Arcadis’ planet category. The reasons included frequent natural disasters and continued reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, beat out the City by the Bay, taking 35th place for environmental factors.

The rankings reveal just how challenging it can be for a big city to stay economically healthy without ruining the environment or making life miserable for residents.

One lesson of the index, according to its authors, is that no ideal city exists.

“Cities face a difficult balancing act between the three pillars of sustainability [planet, people, and profit],” stated Arcadis. “In particular, cities are failing to meet the needs of their people. Across the world, they perform poorest on these factors.”

But “managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century,” John Wilmoth, the director of population programs at the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs, said in a statement.

It has become crucial to figure out how to live sustainably in cities, because this is the first era in human history in which more people live in urban areas than in rural: 54 percent of the world’s population call cities home, and according to the United Nations, that number will continue to grow.

Source: Take Part


 

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In the debate over water scarcity, it’s time to think solar

With more than 780 million people lacking access to potable water and 1.3 billion people lacking access to electricity, sustainable water and energy production is critical to our planet’s future. It is in this context that leaders from around the world are gathering at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, to address the water-energy nexus and its effect, elevating this important discussion to the global agenda.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy production accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s total water withdrawal – defined as water withdrawn from a groundwater source – which amounts to an estimated 580 billion cubic metres of fresh water per year. Thermoelectric power plants already account for over a third of fresh water withdrawal in the United States, where the volume is even more than the water used for agriculture, and in Europe.

There is no doubt that the water-energy nexus is real and of particular concern to water-scarce regions, such as the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that most energy generation technologies — including coal, nuclear and even concentrating solar power – consume tremendous amounts of water during operations, for processes such as fuel extraction, cooling and cleaning.

As our energy needs continue to grow, so will our use of water to generate it. The World Bank predicts that while global energy consumption will increase by 35 per cent by 2035, water consumption will increase by 85 per cent during the same period.

Looking at it in the context of energy demand in the Middle East, which has some of the highest per capita water and energy consumption rates in the world, the management of water resources will be critical to driving growth in the country’s generation capacity.

Water is a finite resource and its use in electricity production should be managed through diversified power generation that minimises water usage.

Sunlight, on the other hand, is an abundant resource and can help mitigate some of the effect on our water resources. Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is one of only two electricity generation technologies with comparatively negligible water consumption.

PV energy systems provide a sustainable solution to the water-energy nexus by generating clean electricity with little to no water use. Most of the water consumed at solar plants is used to ensure that workers on-site stay hydrated.

On a life cycle basis, PV also consumes less water than most other power generation sources, including hydrocarbon-based technologies and biofuels, in the production process.

With the smallest carbon footprint, lowest life cycle water use, and fastest energy payback time in the industry, thin-film PV modules provide a sustainable solution to water scarcity and energy security.

While a power portfolio that completely excludes thermal generation is an unrealistic expectation at this time, the reality is that water conservation needs to remain a priority. As world leaders and decision makers meet in Abu Dhabi this week, it will also be important for them to attempt to respond to the issue in terms that will deliver tangible results.

Source: The National 


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South Africa’s new government building is “milestone” in green leadership

The South African government’s Department of Environmental Affairs has opened a brand new head office in Pretoria that exemplifies its approach to sustainable building, including the country’s National Climate Change Response Policy.

The building, which is 6 Green Star SA Office Design rated, is designed with the aim of capping energy consumption at 115kWh/m2 per year, 20% of which comes from the solar photovoltaic panels that cover the roof. A concentrated photovoltaic panel in the car park also tracks the sun in order to provide solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.

The design also makes use of rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, and water-saving indigenous plants, in order to reduce water consumption by 30%.

In order to incentivise low energy consumption, the building also operates a “green lease” with it maintenance contractors, which monitors performance and introduces penalties if the building consumes more than planned.

For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied.

This landmark new Green Building represents a major commitment by the government to green building and sustainable development. We welcome the green leadership shown,” commented Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the government-affiliated Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA).

For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied. For a government building, this is a precedent setting move by the leadership of our country and is quite a progressive demonstration of consciousness for the green movement.”

Source: Intelligent Building Today


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The Ecological House 3.0 is a prefab bioclimatic dwelling that’s controlled by a smartphone

If you’re in the market for an energy-efficient home, one of the best places to start is with intelligent home automation. That’s one of the outstanding features of the Ecological House 3.0, a smart bioclimatic prefab home that can be controlled from a smartphone to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Designed by architecture firm NOEM, the fully plugged-in wooden dwelling was completed in just 10 weeks in Castellón, Spain.

The Ecological House 3.0, a smart bioclimatic prefab home that can be controlled from a smartphone to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

The 1,033-square-foot Ecological House 3.0 boasts a modern design with rounded edges to match its innovative, 100% digital design, manufacturing, and home automation. Thanks to the digitization process, NOEM was able to send their designs directly to the cutting machines and complete prefabrication in just eight weeks. The ecologically sensitive house was also designed with passive technologies and makes use of local renewable materials. The home’s energy consumption and production, water consumption, temperature, humidity, and other relevant data can be accessed in real time via smartphone.

From the light switches to the irrigation, the modular dwelling’s systems are all automated, programmable, and hooked up to wireless Internet. The irrigation system, for example, adapts and adjusts depending on updated soil moisture and rain forecast data, and high levels of CO2 will trigger the mechanical ventilation system. The lighting system can be programmed and scheduled, or turn on via GPS or detectors.

The Ecological House 3.0 comprises two wooden modules, the larger of which contains a light-filled living room, dining room, and kitchen space that overlooks a large south-facing porch and awning through a high-performance glass wall. The second module comprises the double bedroom, bathroom, and study. The wooden envelopes are made from solid structural panels of laminated wood and are insulated with 16mm wood fiber panels.

Source: Inhabitat

Four innovative African architects bring a new wow to buildings on the continent

Ever heard of a floating African city? Now you have.

African architecture is as diverse as the different cultures and peoples that make up the continent.

Islam and Christianity have produced astounding churches and magnificent mosques. The mix of colonial and modern influences have clashed in the urban environment, in some cities economic or political turmoil resulted in an eclectic clash of styles and little consideration of aesthetic beauty, and in rural areas the local environment was often the driver in the influence of design and structure.

Recently, however, something different has sprouted on the continent. There is a new breed of architect whose work is suffused with social responsibility, and the designs that emanate from them are nothing short of genius.

Their structures created are carefully crafted to fit in with the various demands or pressures of modern day society in Africa.

Here we take a look at a few examples of these extraordinary architects:

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Even though he’s had international success and is based in Berlin, Germany, this hasn’t stopped Burkinabé architect Kéré from making waves back home, in Burkina Faso. Founded in 2005, Kéré Architecture is dedicated to supporting the educational, cultural, and sustainable needs of communities in Burkina Faso through sustainable building practices. Using his formal training as an architect, Kéré has developed strategies for innovative construction by combining traditional Burkinabé building techniques and materials with modern engineering methods.

His projects in Burkina Faso are impressive. In the village of Gando, his birth place, Kéré made a great push for education by constructing schools, along with the help of the local community, and the necessary teacher housing, library and wells to support them.

Image courtesy of Kerearchitecture.com
Image courtesy of Kerearchitecture.com

Each structure was carefully conceived to support the learning environment and be as adaptable as possible to the areas geography. Mud brick walls combined with raised tin roofs use material which is locally available and keep the buildings cool and dry. The school library has a roof with traditional clay pots that have been cut in half and inserted in the ceiling, letting in light and allowing air to circulate.

In June this year the “Surgical Clinic and Health Centre” was opened, serving a population of over 50,000 people from the town of Léo and its surrounding communities. In planning for the most sustainable building solution with least ecological impact, the main construction of the centre is compressed earth bricks.

Image courtesy of Kerearchitecture.com
Image courtesy of Kerearchitecture.com

Their high thermal mass capacity allows them to absorb the cool night air and release it during the day, helping keep the interior spaces cool. The clinic also features ten large overlapping roofs that protect the walls from rain and shade the interiors from the hot daytime sun. The vibrantly-coloured buildings are sited around a central outdoor corridor – a friendly characteristic which is important for the success of the centre, as it attracts patients who would normally not seek medical attention.

Kunlé Adeyemi

Kunlé Adeyemi is a Nigerian architect and urbanist – heavily influenced by the fast-paced urbanisation of African cities. After studying at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, followed by Princeton in the US, Adeyemi founded NLÉ – an architecture and design practice based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

One of his recent projects has focused on his homeland and its fast urbanisation rate. In 2013 Adeyemi completed the “Makoko Floating School”, a prototype floating structure, built for the water community of Makoko, located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. This pilot project took an innovative approach to address the community’s social and physical needs in view of the impact of climate change and a rapidly urbanising context.

Image courtesy of NLE
Image courtesy of NLE

At a cost of less than $7,000 the school accommodates 100 students, uses 256 plastic drums to keep it resting on top of the water, and the frame is constructed from locally-sourced wood. Electricity is provided by solar panels on the roof, and rainwater harvesting helps to keep toilets operational.

Adeyemi has been able to produce an ecologically friendly, alternative building system that could revolutionise Africa’s urban water societies. Now, he is taking the project a step further. He is now looking to expand on his pilot and create a group of floating structures in Makoko, allowing its estimated 250,000 inhabitants better access to sanitation, fresh water and waste disposal.

Image courtesy of NLE
Image courtesy of NLE

Another notable Adeyemi project is the community-built Chicoco radio, in Port Harcourt. The radio station is a floating media platform that provides a voice to 480,000 residents of Port Harcourt’s waterfront slums which line the creeks fringing the city. The governor plans to demolish them all. Not only is the innovative design sustainable and resistant to flooding, but the architecture has also merged with media to become a platform for modern communication and civic participation.

Mick Pearce

Zimbabwean architect Mick Pearce is dedicated to designing low maintenance buildings with low running costs, using renewable energy systems. His aim is to ensure buildings are suited to their natural environment and the people who use them. Over the past 20 years his work has focused heavily on bio-mimicry – an the imitation of natural processes and the use of natural materials.

Image courtesy of MickPearce.com
Image courtesy of MickPearce.com

One of his most famous examples is the Eastgate Centre in Harare. Largely made of concrete, the Eastgate Centre has a ventilation system, which operates similarly to the self-cooling mounds of African termites. Because of its altitude, Harare has a temperate climate and the typical daily temperature swing is 10 to 14 °C, making a passive cooling system a viable alternative to artificial air-conditioning. Passive cooling works by storing heat in the day and venting it at night as temperatures drop. Without relying on conventional air-conditioning or heating the building stays regulated all year round, dramatically reducing energy consumption and the building uses 10% of the energy a conventional building of its size would use.

Tsai Design Studio

Architectural genius is most of the time a combined team effort, on the part of a firm or when two firms come together. It would be impossible to have a list looking at architectural efforts linked to social reform or environmental sustainability without mentioning South Africa’s Tsai design studio. Even though it was established in 2005, this small team of architects has earned a number of design accolades and awards for its architecture and design work – though their community work, re-purposing shipping containers is what stands out.

Image courtesy of Tsai design Studio
Image courtesy of Tsai Design

The studio first became famous for this in 2010 when South African shipping company Safmarine commissioned the studio to develop several designs using recycled containers for community projects. The first Sport Centre prototype was built under a month to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The centre allowed disadvantaged children and communities to be twinned with a Dutch football club who trained local coaches with football techniques and life skills.

The design included a grandstand seating social area, a sheltering roof and an advertising billboard and movie screen as an extension of the roof structure that folds down vertically at one side. This can be used as a possible source of income for the sports centre or be converted into a movie screen for the children. Since then, the containers have been re-purposed for a variety of other community projects.

One example is “Vissershok primary school”. Sponsored by three South African Companies; Safmarine, Afrisam and Woolworths, “Vissershok primary school” was created. Serving as a classroom in the morning and a school library in the afternoon, the container provides a well planned environment for the pupils. The large roof keeps out direct sunlight and reduces heat while the windows staggered along the sides of the container ensure cross ventilation.

Source: Mail and Guardian Africa

 


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