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Ecopreneurship: South Africa moves to help SMEs get down to green business

While the country has never sought to hide this collateral environmental damage, it has also been looking for ways of launching green initiatives to help save the planet as much it can.

It is in this spirit that one of the country’s leading risk financiers, Business Partners Limited (BPL), recently launched a R300 million Green Fund it said aims to finance and support profit-seeking businesses that operate in the ‘green industry’.

The BPL Green Fund will provide expansion capital, as well as start-up funding and property finance from R500 000 and up to R30 million, BPL MD Nazeem Martin said at the launch in Cape Town, adding that the type of businesses it will finance are diverse.

“We are seeking to finance businesses which actively develop, manufacture and provide goods and services aimed at ‘saving the planet’, as well as those businesses that are ‘doing the right thing’ by implementing measures and/or technology which reduce their adverse impact on the environment,” he explained.

Businesses that qualify for finance from the Fund will therefore range from renewable energy providers (offering an alternative, clean and environment friendly energy source) to energy or emissions savings product and service providers, to recyclers, waste managers and green building service and product providers.

The Fund will also consider financing businesses working to conserve natural resources, protect ecosystems and biodiversity and businesses producing healthier food sources.

“Ultimately we want to support those businesses that are making a difference,” Martin said.

The Fund will have a dedicated team to support with the application process and entrepreneurs will have access to dedicated industry specific specialists. A R50 000 interest free loan is also available to qualifying entrepreneurs for technical assistance.

“Our Green Fund seeks to develop, grow and invest in sustainable businesses, enabling them to capitalise on opportunities in the ‘green economy’ – especially in the clean and green technology, renewable energy, recycling sectors – and deliver on its inherent job and wealth creation potential,” Martin said.

“Making up 91% of formalised businesses in South Africa and contributing for more than 60% of new jobs created, SMEs are a vital contributor to the country’s GDP and employment. We believe by equipping SME entrepreneurs to thrive in the ‘green economy’, we can enhance their contribution to the economy and the environment,” he added.

Bearing in mind that the United Nations Environmental Programme Green Economy Report 2015 report demonstrates that the greening of economies can create a new engine of growth and job creation, Martin said the South African government was committed to unleashing the potential of the green economy, in line with the New Growth Path, which has identified the green economy as one of the six priority sectors to assist in reaching its target of five million new jobs by 2020.

It is believed that the New Growth Path Framework aims to create 300 000 additional direct jobs by 2020 in an effort to green the economy.

“Given our country’s rich alternative energy sources, we have the potential to reduce its unsustainable levels of carbon emissions through increasing the renewable (solar, wind and, to a lesser extent, hydro) component of its energy supply mix. And, the knock-on effect for economic growth and job creation from investing in these new alternative energy sectors will be substantial,” the MD said.

“Such initiatives and policy frameworks require huge capital investments, creating space and opportunities for large businesses. But, simultaneously, opportunities arise for SMEs within the component manufacturing and service industry sectors as higher levels of local content is specified and required within government’s policy framework,” Martin said.

“Finally, a great deal of innovation is required from private sector financiers to seize the market opportunity created by government’s green economy plans and policy frameworks.”

Africa attracted US$8 billion in renewable energy investment in 2014 (up from $5.3 billion in 2013), with South Africa accounting for U$5.5 billion alone, Martin said, quoting figures from the SADC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Status Report.

The Fund’s core objectives will be to finance and support SMEs that:

• Support renewable energy technologies in South Africa.

• Reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency.

• Promote energy savings that ensure long-term competitiveness.

• Contribute to job creation in the ‘green economy’.

Who qualifies for this Fund?

BPL seeks to finance businesses which actively develop, manufacture and provide goods and services aimed at ‘saving the planet’, as well as those businesses that are ‘doing the right thing’ by implementing measures and/or technology which reduce their adverse impact on the environment. Businesses that qualify for finance from the Fund include:

• Renewable energy providers (offering an alternative, clean and environment friendly energy source)

• Energy or emissions savings product and service providers including renewable energy projects that reduce or stop the need for electricity from the national grid

• Projects which are eligible under specific Eskom programmes

• Recyclers

• Waste managers

• Green building service and product providers

• Businesses working to conserve natural resources

• Businesses which protect ecosystems and biodiversity

• Businesses producing healthier food sources.

• How to apply for finance?

Source: southernafrican


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What are Green Materials and Technologies?

By Llewellyn van Wyk

Introduction

The potential impact of climate change and global warming is without doubt one of the most life-threatening challenges that face humanity. Central to this challenge is our dependence on fossil fuels as the primary source of energy – the major contributors of greenhouse gases (GHGs) including carbon dioxide (CO2) – and the extensive use of non-renewable resources.

It is now widely recognised that the climate systems are warming: there is also medium confidence that other effects of regional climate change on natural and human environments are emerging, although many are difficult to discern due to adaptation and non-climatic drivers. Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70 per cent between 1970 and 2004. Anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate and magnitude of the climate change, including severe species loss.

Nevertheless, a wide range of adaptation options is available, although a more progressive rate of adaptation than is currently evident is required. Given an increase in adaptation rates, many impacts can be reduced, delayed or avoided. There is thus a causal relationship between climate change mitigation and sustainable development: sustainable development can reduce vulnerability to climate change by enhancing adaptive capacity and increasing resilience.

The construction and maintenance of the built environment has a fundamental role to play in this challenge: green materials and technologies for new and existing buildings could considerably reduce CO2 emissions while simultaneously improving indoor and outdoor air quality, social welfare, energy security, and ecological goods and services.

Background

The built environment is where the majority of the world’s population now reside: one out of every two people live in a city (UN 1996). Global population has expanded more than sixfold since 1800 and the gross world product more than 58-fold since 1820. As a result, the ecological footprint (EF) of humanity exceeds earth’s capacity by about 30 per cent. If we continue on the same development trajectory, by the early 2030s two planets will be required to keep up with humanity’s demand for goods and services.

In 2013, the global building stock was 138.2 billion m2, of which 73 per cent was in residential buildings (Bloom & Goldstein 2014:2). It is forecast that the commercial and residential segments will experience compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) in the next 10 years of 2,1 per cent and 2,2 per cent respectively (Bloom & Goldstein 2014:3).

Overall it is projected that the total building stock will grow to 171.3billion m2 at a GAGR of 2,2 per cent over the next decade (Bloom & Goldstein 2014:3).

Most of the growth is expected to occur in China, where nearly 2.0 billion m2 are added to the commercial and residential building stock every year. However, North America and Europe are each likely to make a significant contribution to the total building stock (Bloom & Goldstein 2014).

Interestingly enough, Bloom & Goldstein claim that commercial, residential, and industrial buildings are responsible for 47 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 49 percent of the world’s energy consumption (2014:1).

As stated earlier, the construction industry plays a critical role in the growth of the economy through its creation of immovable fixed assets. Because of this role Government has declared the construction industry a national priority (Cidb 2012:10).

According to StatisticsSA Gross Domestic Product, Quarter 1, 2014 (Statistical release P0441), the construction industry expanded R4 billion to R31 billion from the Q4: 2013 to Q1: 2014 (2014:4). Were this to continue at current rates investments in construction works should reach R124 billion by Q4: 2014.

Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) for the residential sector fell -2,2 percent year-on-year in Q4: 2011 based on constant 2005 prices, from R24,83 bn to R24,29 bn. The non-residential sector fell by 1,3 percent year-on-year in Q4: 2011, to R37,08 bn from R37,56 bn in Q4: 2010. GFCF in construction works rose 2,3 per cent year-on-year in Q4: 2011, the highest growth rate over the past seven quarters with investment in construction works increasing to R110,36bn in Q4: 2011 from R107,89bn in Q4: 2010 (Industry Insight 2012:18).

The total GDP for South Africa in 2013 was approximately R3,3 trillion of which the non-residential sector contributed 1,41 per cent directly, 1,55 percent indirectly, and 2,39 percent induced (SAPOA 2014:51).

During 2013 the real estate sub-sector contributed R1,32 billion to the fixed capital stock of South Africa, while the gross fixed capital formation added R97,856 million to this figure over the same period, representing 20,9 percent and 14,95 percent respectively of the whole economy (SAPOA 2014:15). Of this capital formation, R69,697 million or 71,2 percent, is attributable to non-residential buildings (SAPOA 2014:15).

It is also a significant consumer of resources especially materials, energy and water: globally the construction industry is responsible for about 50per cent of all materials used, 45 per cent of energy generated to heat, cool and light buildings and a further 5per cent to construct them, 40 per cent of water used (in construction and operation), and 70 per cent of all timber products that end up in construction

(Edwards 2002). In South Africa, buildings account for 23 per cent of electricity used, and a further 5 per cent in the manufacturing of construction products (CIDB 2012).

The construction industry has traditionally been a slow adopter of new technologies in general, mainly due to the perceived associated risks ( Woudhuysen and Abley, 2004). The building sector in particular is reluctant to adopt new technologies due to potential buyer resistance ( Woudhuysen and Abley, 2004). Thus, the sector undertakes most of its work with conventional technologies.

Green technologies really came into consideration with the emergence of the formal green building movement lead by the British Research Establishment (BRE), and Professors’ Feist and Adamson in the late 1990s. This saw the release of green building systems such as British Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), and the Passivhaus concept respectively. Since then a number of new green building systems have emerged, including the Green Star® system as adopted by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

The introduction of these systems has heightened interest in green building, and in the technologies they use. While much of the technology remains conventional to meet some of the performance requirements, green technology is required.

High Performance Green Building

Because buildings are often used for centuries, the rapid pace of development increasingly means that it is impossible to imagine the demands that future uses will place on buildings. Consequently, products and systems should be chosen that make adaptation easier. While aesthetic appeal will always be a component of building design, the real challenge is to create built environments that are durable and flexible, appropriate in their surroundings and provide high performance with less detrimental impacts.

In response to this challenge, a global initiative launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and supported by over 40 global companies aims to “transform the way buildings are conceived, constructed, operated and dismantled” to achieve zero energy consumption from external sources and zero net carbon dioxide emissions while being economically viable to construct and operate. Included in the initiative is the identification of the full range of present and future opportunities with regard to “ultra- efficient building materials and equipment”. Additionally, this aim is enhanced by using the“cradle-to-cradle”concept of producing, using and later re-using building materials, a design evolution needed to achieve sustainability for buildings.

The current generation of‘green’ buildings already offer significant improvements over conventional buildings inasmuch as they consume less energy, materials, and water; provide demonstrably healthier living and working environments; and greatly enhance the quality of the built environment, including the neighbourhood. However, these improvements are offered through the use of existing materials and products, design approaches, and construction methods. Because of this conventional approach to design and construction, it remains difficult to incorporate truly innovative technologies into current construction practice.

Good design is fundamental to sustainable construction. Decisions made at the initial design stage have the greatest effect on the overall sustainability impact of projects. The issues to be faced by radical

high-performance “green” buildings favours construction products and methods that are flexible, light and durable: it is here that green materials and technologies emerge as a material-driven construction system capable of achieving the prerequisite performance standards.

Prudent use of natural resources results in both greater industry efficiency and a restricted usage of natural materials. Practices such as materials recycling, waste minimisation, local product resourcing, land decontamination, and construction- and demolition-waste disposal make sound business sense and encourage good construction housekeeping. Application of the principles of ‘lean construction’ and life-cycle assessment is equally important.

The characteristics of high-performance green building as suggested by Fujita Research (2000) include:

1. Optimal environmental and economic performance;

2. Integrated processes, innovative design and increased efficiencies to save energy and resources;

3. Satisfying, healthy, productive, quality indoor spaces;

4. Employing lean construction methodologies and tools to improve waste management and reduce the environmental impact of construction waste;

5. Increasing the emphasis, at R&D stage, of whole-building design, construction and operation over the entire life cycle;

6. Fully integrated approach including teams, processes and systems;

7. Renewal engineering methods;

8. Management and business practices;

9. New standards, open buildings, advance jointing and assembly techniques, process engineering;

10. Materials and systems: new function integrated building components, durability, repairability, and retrofit- ability of components.

In High Performance construction, the key issue is how the choice of construction products and methods can create scope for reducing burdens.

Green Materials

The market for building materials is predicted to grow steadily into the foreseeable future. The primary driver for growth by sheer volume is the ongoing government investment in new buildings and other physical infrastructure in developing countries such as South Africa. At the same time, the demand for building materials is shifting towards environmentally preferable or “green” materials due to consumer demand; and an ever growing number of mandatory environmental regulations and standards.

Green materials use is predicated on the replacement of future flows of conventional building materials with “green” materials. From an environmental perspective, “green” materials would need to be those materials with the least “embodied effects”, where the word embodied refers to attribution or allocation in an accounting sense as opposed to true physical embodiment. In the building community, the tendency is to refer only to “embodied energy” (Trusty and Horst, 2006). However, as implied by the comprehensive list of effect categories (Table 1) typically investigated in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study, all the extractions from and releases to nature are embodied effects, and there are also embodied effects associated with the making and moving of energy itself (known as pre-combustion energy).

Table 1: Embodied effects typically investigated in a Life Cycle Assessment.

Until the 1970s, the construction industry sector made little attempt to establish objective and comprehensive methods for environmental assessment and improvement of buildings. The concept of Sustainable Construction which is “The creation and operation of a healthy built environment based on ecological principles” (Kibert, 1994) was first mooted in the wake of the 1987 Brundtland Report and the 1992 Rio Accords. Starting with the launch of the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) in 1990, a large number of building rating systems have been developed around the world to provide the basis for putting sustainable construction into practice.

However, rating tools are not underpinned by robust science. The environmental improvements suggested are not benchmarked against empirical data (Reijnders and van Roekel, 1999). There is a lack of credits dealing directly with the environmental problems (embodied effects) of concern to society (Zimmerman and Kibert, 2007). These deficiencies are most notable in the case of materials selection which is generally informed by prescriptive easy-to-follow directions, for example, use materials with recycled content (Blom, 2006; Trusty, 2007).

Green Technologies

Green technologies in the building sector can be defined as those technologies which reduce the environmental impact of building on the environment. These technologies would either reduce environmental impact through the development of more environmentally sustainable materials and products, or through the generation and/ or conservation of resources such as energy and water.

Conclusion

The construction industry sector is the largest documented user of materials by weight. The market for building materials is predicted to grow steadily into the foreseeable future driven by ongoing investments in built infrastructure and the consumer demand for “green” products.

Sustainable materials use is thus predicated on the replacement of future flows of conventional with innovative building materials which have the least embodied effects where the “effects” in question are flows of key natural resources – energy, land, materials and water; and emissions to air, land and water.

Source: Green Building Handbook: Materials ad Technology


 

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In blackout-hit SA, could hydrogen be the answer?

Advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology could be the answer for reliable alternative energy sources.

At first glance, the Cape Flats Nature Reserve building at the University of the Western Cape doesn’t seem exceptional.

The modest two-storey structure hosts office space and utility rooms for the six staff who care for the plants and animals living in the 30-hectare reserve.

But the building is a major milestone in South Africa’s struggle to ease its dependence on fossil fuels. It runs on hydrogen, an infinitely renewable fuel that, when used to generate power, produces no emissions apart from water and heat.

The building’s electricity is supplied by a prototype hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) power generator that was launched in November by the university’s Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems Centre of Competence.

Developed in collaboration with local heating-technology company Hot Platinum, the generator is a testament to South Africa’s advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

In a country struggling with blackouts, energy shortages, high tariffs and years of under-investment in power infrastructure, it offers the hope that hydrogen could be an answer to South Africa’s search for reliable alternative energy sources.

NO EMISSIONS, NO NOISE

“The generator produces electricity in an environmentally friendly way, without pollution or noise,” said Piotr Bujlo, leader of the generator project and a technology specialist at HySA Systems.

Fuel cells are already used to power vehicles and provide power in remote or inaccessible places, including on space capsules and satellites.

Researchers at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) hope that their work on hydrogen fuel cell innovations may help with the global quest to cut reliance on fossil fuels, as well as helping with South Africa’s own attempts to give more of its population access to electricity.

According to HySA Systems, its new generator can be used anywhere where a maximum 2.5 kilowatts of electricity is required. It has an advantage over nuclear power or coal power in that hydrogen can be produced on-site – using a water electrolyser – which means there is no need to pipe or truck the fuel in from somewhere else.

“The generator is highly competitive in places where there is no grid,” Bujlo said.

Hydrogen fuel cells take the energy produced by a chemical reaction in the presence of a catalyst – such as platinum – and convert it into useable electrical power, with only water vapour and heat as by-products.

As energy-storage devices, they work much like batteries except that while batteries store all of their chemicals inside, and eventually go dead, fuel cells have a constant flow of chemicals.

ABUNDANT POWER

“Hydrogen is the most abundant gas in the universe, so with HFC systems the energy is inexhaustible,” said Bruno Pollet, director of HySA Systems.

The generator systems used in the HySA project are almost entirely South African designed and produced, apart from the fuel cells. Pollet says the next generation of HySA technologies will be 100 percent locally developed.

HySA Systems and Hot Platinum are currently installing and testing a new version of the fuel-cell system for domestic use, with hope of having it ready to demonstrate in 2015.

The generator is one of the many innovations that have been developed under South Africa’s National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Research, Development and Innovation Strategy launched in 2007, a programme aimed at exploring the feasibility of using fuel cell technology for decentralising energy.

Cosmas Chiteme, director of alternative energy at the government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), said the government is investing in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with the hopes of building on South Africa’s reputation in the field.

“The intention is to create the critical knowledge and human resources capacity to enable the development of high-value commercial activities,” he said.

PRIVATE SECTOR INTEREST

The DST has so far invested $40 million (450 million rand) in its hydrogen-energy strategy. Using $17 million (194 million rand) to date, the University of the Western Cape’s HySA project has so far produced a range of innovations, including South Africa’s first hydrogen-powered tricycle, scooter, and golf cart, along with the country’s first fuel-cell component manufacturing line.

The private sector has been paying attention. In September, HySA Systems joined a project with European airline manufacturer Airbus and the National Aerospace Centre to work on understanding how hydrogen fuel cells might perform when subjected to the harsh and varying environmental conditions in which commercial aircraft operate.

But, according to HySA Systems director Pollet, before hydrogen energy can become more widely available, decision makers need to be persuaded of its benefits.

Hydrogen fuel cells could be commercially available in South Africa as soon as the local industry, government departments and other stakeholders see the benefits of the technology: low cost, high efficiency, clean performance,” he said.

But first, “I think they need to be educated about the technology.”

Source: Moneyweb

Sustainable future: Eco-friendly retail stores

Climate change has propelled us to move towards a greener and more sustainable future. It has created an environment that makes it possible to be green and still run a profitable business. It is important to understand the significance of eco-friendly retail stores, because they preserve the future. In other words, repurposing and recycling materials reduce the strain in using resources that are fuel-based.

Also, it becomes less of a need to rely on unsustainable resources to produce durable goods. Eco-friendly retail stores vary in kind, ranging from clothing and goods to furniture, personal care and household cleaning products.

What to expect from eco-friendly retail stores?

Products should be wholly made from a sustainable material eg. furniture made from bamboo or teakwood etc., fabrics from hemp, organic cotton and/or reclaimed fabrics. If the product doesn’t fit the above description, then it should be a by-product of a repurposed or recycled material, and, in turn, should be recyclable after use.

When shop owners use cleaning products that are eco-friendly, they are contributing to a larger movement and awareness of ‘going green’. You are creating a demand that allows innovation to carry on and improve green products. This chain doesn’t stop people from using non-green products, but provides alternatives and still keeps people employed. However, the benefits are far beyond monetary and support the environment, being good for your health and well-being. They are less harmful and toxic to you and nature.

Eco-friendly retail stores are a glimpse of the impact we can have in the future and it starts with consumers buying into that reality. It is hard to reverse the environmental damage done thus far on the planet, but the ecosystem is a self-correcting system and we can aid it in creating balance.

Eco-friendly retail stores are still gaining traction on the market, and therefore are not yet prominent. However, one can browse through an online database to locate one of these stores. We are slowly moving towards green technologies, so it is imperative for us to adapt to such change sooner rather than later.

To paraphrase Charles Darwin, the species that survive are often not the strongest but those capable of adapting to newer conditions. We are at a pinnacle of a great movement and it is our duty to move in that direction. The survival of our species depends on it.

Source: Bizcommunity

Spotlight On The Hotel That Claims To Be Africa’s Greenest: Hotel Verde

There are not a lot of hotels near Cape Town International Airport. Most business and leisure travellers are in a hurry to get to Cape Town, or reluctant to leave, and understandably so, given the city’s many attractions.

That’s why the 145-room Hotel Verde, located about a three-minute drive to Cape Town International Airport, feels like such a game changer. I stayed there my last night of a recent trip to Cape Town and it felt like a glimpse into the future of the hotel industry.

Hotel Verde claims to be Africa’s greenest hotel, built from the ground up according to eco-friendly principles. Staying there, you are practicing conscious, sustainable tourism. It’s the first hotel in Africa to offer a carbon-neutral stay, meaning you know exactly how much or how little your stay impacted the environment, and that makes it an amazingly feel-good experience.

Being accountable for its footprint is the guiding principle behind this hotel, which opened in August, 2013. South Africa’s green building certification wasn’t sophisticated enough for Hotel Verde, said General Manager Samantha Annandale, so they applied for — and got – LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Annandale reckons the hotel got about 30 million rand (2.57 million USD) in free publicity just for being green.

Pulling up to the hotel, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I’d ever experienced when I saw the massive wind turbines spinning in the parking lot. But as big as they appear to be, they aren’t big enough, Annandale said. Though these are the most visible signs of green technology at the hotel, the wind turbines turned out to be probably its least productive investment.

“Return on investment (of wind turbines) is 20 years,” Annandale said. “We’d need to build (the wind turbines) bigger to make it worth it. We’ve learned from our mistakes. But they make a huge statement.”

Eco Pool

Annandale spent a lot more time talking to me about the hotel’s eco pool, which uses plants and natural soil filtration to balance bacteria without chlorine. Water is clean and clear, but nothing like the hotel swimming pool international guests are used to, and some find it a bit weird, Annandale said.

Getting used to it requires a new mindset. “We cannot build hotels the way we used to build them,” she said.

Hotel Verde owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio have a 10-year lease on the wetland adjacent to the hotel where they built the eco pool. They took what amounted to a rat-infested swamp and turned it into an outdoor gym, with plants that attract birds and bees, owl houses and beehives that the hotel harvests. Kids staying at the hotel can go on a treasure hunt there.

Born in Italy and raised in Germany, Mario is a longtime South African resident and the shareholder in another hotel in Ethiopia.

One of Mario’s goals at Hotel Verde was to have zero waste to landfill. “We wanted to revolutionize that,” Annandale said. So far, the hotel manages to divert an 91-to-94 percent of waste from the landfill and they do that by recycling. The hotel has a composting room. Packaging is returned to suppliers. “One thing you can never control is what guests bring in,” Annandale said.

About 30 percent of the hotel staff’s time is spent educating school children, guests, tours and site inspectors.

Hotel Verde construction cost about 240 million rand ($20.5 million) and building it green cost about 20 million rand ($1.7 million) more than an ordinary hotel would have cost, Annandale estimates. It will take three to five years to see a return on the investment, she said.

Annandale is particularly proud of the room where gray water from guest showers is recycled. It’s fed into tanks, filtered by ultraviolet light, and then piped back up into the building to flush guest toilets.

The hotel also has a 40,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank for car washing, irrigation and cleaning.

To save energy on water heating, a geothermal loop system 90 feet beneath the surface of the hotel taps into the natural water in the earth, acting as a heat sink for the hotel water.

Engineers from the University of Cape Town visit the hotel, which serves as a model for the Stellenbosch municipality.

Art designed by local school children and South African artists is used to decorate the hotel. School children in the nearby townships don’t get art education, according to Annandale. Mario agreed to fund an art education project on condition the children learn about sustainability. In return, they created the designs for stunning tapestries that decorate the common areas on the floor I my room was on.

Using Recycled Products

One wall in the lobby was textured with recycled glass. The hotel’s carpet runners are made of recycled plastic. On the outside of the hotel, a five-story mosaic art installation was designed by Svenja, Mario’s youngest daughter.

There is free unlimited Wi-Fi and sensor lighting throughout Hotel Verde, and my room was paperless, in that all hotel information was on the TV.

One of my favorite places in the hotel was in the basement garage, where graffiti artists had been invited to come in and paint. This turned out to be a moneymaker for the hotel. Guests loved the basement art and some have paid to have banquets there, Annandale said.

But you probably want to hear about the rooms. I loved that the butter cookies I found on the coffee tray in my room were made by a local woman in Mitchell’s Plain, one of South Africa’s largest townships.

“We helped her become compliant in food preparation and now she employs two people,” Annandale said.

When you check out of Hotel Verde, you have the option to offset your carbon footprint and you can track where and how it was offset. Just knowing that made me feel good.

Source: AFK Insider

Hisense implements several sustainability initiatives locally

Hisense, a manufacturer of premium consumer electronics and home appliances, is focusing its attention on increasing its green credentials in an attempt to decrease carbon emissions, increase recycling, and creating a closed loop system at their high tech manufacturing facility  in Atlantis, Western Cape.

Hisense has always looked for ways to contribute positively toward the environment. The business places an importance on creating products that are energy efficient and which lead the way in green technology. In addition to this, the business looks at ways in which its operations can be more sustainable.

Recycling systems have been put in place to contribute to the bottom line including the environment, strategic initiatives have been implemented to recycle discarded cardboard, bubble-wrap, polystyrene, plastic, foam and other materials.

Ebrahim Khan, Deputy General Manager, Manufacturing Group at Hisense South Africa, says, “When we launched our new manufacturing facility in Atlantis in 2013, we ensured that energy efficiency is part of the core of the products being manufactured at the facility. Sustainability and greening are so important to us that our launch was a green event.  Our close collaboration with Bluemoon and Earth Patrol produced a carbon neutral event called ‘Living Legacy’ that proved the industry and sustainability are on par.”

From planting 190 indigenous trees to offset carbon emissions, to using LED lighting, to implementing recycling programmes, initiatives were put in practice throughout the operation aimed at reducing the company’s environmental footprint.

From January – September 2014, Hisense collected 655,780kg of recyclable materials, and saved a total of 2,790,378kg of carbon emissions. Recyclables now heavily outweigh general waste and the figure is improving on a monthly basis – in September, 10,680kg of general wastes vs. 79,954kg of recyclables.  Carbon emissions in January measured 154,955kg, and in September, 324,522kg was reported, and landfill volumes have more than tripled too.

To put this into perspective, 2,790,378kg of carbon emissions is equivalent to:

  • The annual greenhouse gas emissions from 587 passenger vehicles or;
  • The carbon dioxide emissions from burning 1,359 tons of coal or;
  • The carbon sequestered by 71,548 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

“Hisense’s future plan centres on a process of implementing a zero-waste to landfill strategy, which is currently in its testing phase. The plan will be implemented in 2015,” explains Khan.

Hisense has made the most of the opportunity to run a sustainable business, and is fully conscious about the environment in which it operates.

Source: Cape Business News

 

Cape Town City Council pushes for establishment of green technology hub in Atlantis

The City of Cape Town’s Council has supported the Western Cape Government’s application to the National Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the designation of the Atlantis industrial area as a Green Technology Special Economic Zone.

This is the latest development in the City and its partner’s quest to unlock economic opportunities in this impoverished area, while at the same time contributing to the financial and environmental sustainability of the metro.

If so declared, this will be the Western Cape’s first Green Technology Special Economic Zone and we foresee that this hub will help to drive much-needed job creation. This also forms part of the City’s overarching efforts to ensure that investors increasingly choose Cape Town and the Western Cape as the top investment destination in South Africa. It is also expected that the interest from local and foreign investors in purchasing land in this green technology hub will grow.

In January 2011, the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT,) through the Green Cape Initiative, started developing plans to establish a clean technology manufacturing hub in Atlantis.

This initiative was sparked by indications that the National Government was planning to procure large quantities of renewable energy from independent power producers. According to the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, proposed investments of between R10 – 20 billion annually over a 20-year period were foreseen.

Wind potential studies conducted over the past decade suggested that the Western Cape had the potential to generate 3,000 MW of wind power and had good solar irradiation potential. The location of renewable energy power plants in the Western Cape held the potential for localising manufacturing in this sector and for the attraction of catalytic investors to attract suppliers.

The City was, therefore, approached to release currently unoccupied land with industrial zoning in Atlantis for the proposed manufacturing hub. On 8 December 2011, the City’s Council approved a process for the establishment of a green technology manufacturing cluster on vacant City-owned land in the Atlantis industrial area. The sale or lease of two designated sites (or portions thereof) by way of a specialised land disposal management system was also approved. This system includes a rapid application and adjudication process available to qualifying applicants.

The City has already sold 7,8 ha of this 68 ha-site to Red Planet Horizon Trading, owned by Gestamp Wind Steel South Africa, to manufacture wind towers. This purchase is part of the City’s quick access-to-land programme for industries operating in the green economy.

To boost efforts in this area further, Council last year approved the Investment Incentive Scheme to boost job creation in Atlantis. Over 30 companies have taken up the incentives, resulting in more than R8 million in savings for companies from financial incentives. R500m in new industry investment has also been leveraged and this has helped to retain over 2 000 jobs.

There are a number of businesses in the pipeline who are looking to establish themselves in Atlantis. Currently on site is Gestamp Renewable Industries (GRI,) a Spanish company with a 100% shareholding in GRI Wind Steel South Africa, creating employment for 220 workers.

The expansion of a can manufacturing company is also underway. A total of 700 potential jobs will be created should the enquiries and pending business decisions materialise, including the number of jobs that the GRI investment has brought into Atlantis.

As an opportunity city, which is dedicated to redress, Atlantis is one of Cape Town’s priority areas.

The DTI’s feasibility study on Atlantis has shown that it is a feasible area for the establishment of a special economic zone.

The city is calling on its partners in the green technology sector to consider investing in Atlantis in order to make progress possible together. A development facilitation team has been established to fast-track investments and to assist potential investors.

Source: Cape Business News