With passion for South Africa, her people and the “lighter and brighter side of beautiful living”, new lifestyle retail chain Beetroot Inc has found a recipe for success we could all emulate.
“Our offering is different and fresh – and it was clear from the start that it would resonate with a segment of the market. It is a work in progress and we learn new things (about ourselves and our clients) every day,” says CEO Elize van der Berg.
Beetroot Inc. was launched four years ago with the main objective being sustainable job creation, says van der Berg. The fledgling business initially made and supplied scatter cushions to corporate companies. Now a retail business with seven branches in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, the main impetus for the inception of the company remains the same.
“Job creation is essential to make South Africa work,” says Van der Berg. “We started with two people and a sewing machine and now have more than fifty people on the payroll. Those first two employees are still with the company. We also collaborate with small entrepreneurs who employ people too – we estimate Beetroot Inc supports about 600 people.”
The product range is diverse and currently includes couches, chairs, coffee tables (made from recycled wood), eco-friendly utility furniture (like mobile work stations and trolleys), lampshades, hand-crafted handbags, uniquely designed scatter cushions, placemats, runners, tablecloths and aprons, pochettes (colourful envelope-sized and -shaped utility bags and soft jewellery. Corporate gifts, novelties and congratulatory flags complete the Beetroot Inc. product offering.
The real game changer is that Beetroot Inc. customers can personalise any furniture item they order – adjusting dimensions to suit space requirements and choosing from a variety of fabric and paint finishes. The company also offers to custom-make items that are not part of their current product range, and will reupholster old-favourite furniture pieces too.
“We will keep on experimenting with our product offering,” says van der Berg. It is part of providing consumers with a different retail experience. They must feel free to relax and explore the diversity of Beetroot’s authentic product range and share in the joy and the fun created by South Africans for South Africans.”
Beetroot Inc.’s board members combine an array of skills from different backgrounds; this means the company is able to tap into their management, retail, sales and marketing experience. Similarly, the design of the products is, mostly, a collaborative process, with designers, artists and even shop assistants giving input, continues van der Berg.
“The business is proof that you can harness the power of diversity collectively for the common good,” she continues. “The only proviso is that people must work in the same direction so that they can all contribute towards reaching the company’s objectives.”
Van der Berg says, “We are grateful that we can offer something to people who enjoy the lighter and brighter side of beautiful living – as our pay-off line states. To provide this, we tap into what our team members have in common, we don’t focus on the differences. It is this collective consciousness that drives the company forward.”
A mantra for the nation.
For more information, please visit via http://www.beetrootinc.co.za Beetroot Inc has stores in Gauteng (Menlyn Maine, Fourways Mall, Waterkloof Corner Store, Springs Mall), KZN (Ballito Junction) and the Western Cape (Table Bay Mall, Tyger Valley Centre).
Issued by: Paddington Station PR
We may have forgotten just how vital the transportation sector is to our economy and our growing nation…
Since 2005, South Africa has been celebrating October as Transport Month and 12 years later, we may have forgotten just how vital the transportation sector is to our economy and our growing nation. While there are certainly challenges that need to be addressed, such as the high road death toll during holidays, there is a great deal to be grateful for as we move towards integrating transport systems to provide mobility and accessibility to all South Africans.
Sustainable job creation and skills development
Before the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa lacked a reliable public transport system. The only modes of public transport were crowded commuter trains and a handful of minibus taxis.
Now, however, we have a public transport system that caters for millions of commuters, including a world-class, high-speed Gautrain, properly maintained roads, international airports to be proud of and we also have vehicle manufacturing plants that have grown significantly over the years.
Nissan South Africa is one of eight automotive brands manufacturing cars in the country and together, they have invested billions of rands in skills development and plant upgrades which enable the production of high-quality vehicles.
Thousands of jobs have been created over the years and hundreds of people have received training all over the world in an effort to foster ongoing educational opportunities.
The South African government has been incredibly supportive of the automotive industry with programmes such as the Automotive Production and Development Programme and, in turn, the industry has provided opportunities for people from previously disadvantaged communities while also investing in original equipment manufacturers and other entrepreneurs in this sector.
In recent years, the local motoring industry suffered from a critical shortage of good engineers and this hampered carmakers’ ability to achieve their manufacturing goals while continuing to be competitive in a global context.
Nissan SA’s solution was the Nissan Graduate Development Programme, which initially started off with research at Nissan’s plants in Mexico and North America to establish a best-practice model. Since the programme started in 2012, it has produced 53 engineering graduates per year, of which 50% are women. Nissan copied the programmes from its best plants and the results have been very promising because highly qualified engineers, who have valuable hands-on experience, are being produced.
Stimulating the economy
The important aspect of these largescale projects is that they show confidence in South Africa and they stimulate the economy directly through jobs and indirectly through ongoing international investments that ensure new projects are given the green light.
In an effort to support black economic empowerment, Nissan recently introduced onsite suppliers to its Rosslyn plant to reduce logistics time and costs, and in the next few months, Nissan plans to introduce a Nissan Incubation Centre to assist small, black-owned businesses to get into the automotive supply chain.
Upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities
Strategic investments in the transport sector over the years have transformed the quality of life of millions of people who were previously excluded from the economy. Now, there are reliable and safe transportation services that are enabling much-needed socio-economic development.
The government envisions that by 2020, more than 85% of the population of South African cities will be within a kilometre of an integrated rapid public transport network. The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and the Tshwane Rapid Transit System are already carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers per week, according to the City of Tshwane.
The long-term plan for the BRT system is for it to cover 330km and to stimulate urban regeneration by bringing underprivileged communities closer to economic opportunities.
Everything from economic growth to social services and personal ease of movement is dependent on transportation, so during this month, take the time to appreciate that we are lucky to live in a country that has grown immensely and that continues to provide opportunities for all South Africans. As a major stakeholder, job creator and innovator in the transport sector, Nissan SA is proud of the country’s achievements and is optimistic about South Africa and Africa’s ability to prosper well into the future.
Via: Nissan South Africa
Leading architecture, interior design, and space-planning practice Paragon was tasked by GE Global Properties to design and fit-out the GE Africa Innovation Centre (GEAIC), the first green- and LEED-certified GE building in Sub-Saharan Africa.
GE opened its first African-based innovation centre in Johannesburg in June 2016 as part of its investment in developing home-grown solutions for Africa. The R80 million facility is the twelfth GE Innovation Centre globally. It is home to GE’s innovation focus across Africa, within its key business sectors of healthcare, aviation, energy, oil and gas, power, and transportation.
“A holistic view was adopted for the building. We have arrived at a stage of sustainable design internationally, with the minimum level being quite high. Being more than the sum of its parts, the overall fit-out aims to achieve substantially over and above this minimum level,” Paragon Interface Director Claire D’Adorante elaborates.
“The vision was to provide accessibility to a healthy environment and internalise this in the workplace, promoting an integrated and balanced health- and wellness-driven work environment,” D’Adorante comments. ‘Green’ features include an intelligent building-monitoring system, live on-screen energy/waste and water usage reports, and a world-class VRV air-con system, incorporating high levels of fresh air input and heat recovery systems.
The building aims to operate more efficiently than the market average, featuring Xeriscaped gardens and water-efficient planted walls, occupancy-controlled lighting, substantial external views for occupants, acoustically-tested and -designed environments, and efficient water usage.
D’Adorante explains that, in order to be an Innovation Centre, it had to prescribe to global and local best practice towards a more sustainable built environment. The building is currently under evaluation for a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Green Star 5 Interior As Built rating and LEED Gold As Built.
“We combined international best practice and localised products in a LEED/GBCSA rated interior, while tying this back to the overall narrative concept, facilitating GE’s high-performance criteria and brand dynamics,” D’Adorante stresses.
The fit-out was designed to be a dynamic and versatile multi-floor space, with innovative and mobile structural elements and furniture. The flexible environment fluidly facilitates collaboration, interaction, and innovation for all users. Conceptually the space is informed by an African geometric design language, drawn from African settlements, fabrics, and surfaces.
These include abstracted circular, angular, and linear fractal elements, integrated into the structural and aesthetic elements of the Innovation Centre to create a uniquely African, yet global, contemporary corporate spatial design.
As the building and fit-out are still relatively new, constant training and user outreach is being undertaken by the facilities team to establish a set user guide. “Common teething issues are more pronounced in the more mechanical systems with regard to user comfort and system usage, as these not only have to provide for all other use cases, but still need to meet the sustainability goals set out,” D’Adorante highlights.
The overall thought process of the design focused on the use of environmentally-sound materials, acoustics, flexibility, ergonomics, visual comfort, waste management and water/electricity reduction in the appliance/technology used. The engineering teams and various sub-contractors (HVAC, electrical, wet services) aided the process with regard to specifying and systematising all the elements necessary for high internal air quality, lighting, and thermal comfort.
The close collaboration between the architect, client, and professional team, including the Green Star and LEED consultant, guided the process. In addition, main contractor TSK Bartlett also strived to use certified adhesives and sealant products, for example. “We also targeted some elements in the socio-economic category,” D’Adorante reveals.
For example, the demountable and glazing supplier sent out specialised technicians from Europe to train the local installation teams on its bespoke products, and their installation, maintenance, and functionality. Additional specialised training included the ceiling contractors on the high-performance ceiling materials used.
Functional spaces include a publicly-accessible Ground Floor with a health-focused work café and digital exhibition centre, collaboration zones, and outdoor collaboration area. The restricted-access first floor is devoted to permanent tenanting, and incorporates agile workspaces and a fully-equipped GE Africa Healthcare training centre. The top floor includes a flexible learning and development centre, collaboration rooms, and multi-disciplinary laboratory. The basement parking includes, showers, bicycles and green leaf vehicles.
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Environment officials are in Apia to begin talks starting with a focus on sustainable eco tourism.
The 28th SPREP meeting got underway this morning with the incoming chair, Umiich Sengebau who is the Minister for the Environment in Palau, saying he wanted other members to take a leaf out of his country’s success story to move forward in this area.
He spoke of introducing and endorsing the user pays system that had been so successful in his country.
“Palau has always been known as a diving mecca,” Mr Sengebau said.
“We knew this is where Palau is gonna go and it was important that we also protect the very resources that the tourists come for.
“And of course our president has always been fond of saying that our environment is our economy and our economy is our environment.”
Mr Sengebau encouraged members to take care of their eco systems to ensure sustainability.
SPREP Director-General Kosi Latu said the SPREP meeting would echo many of the issues talked about during the recent Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting.
“Our strategy plan recognises the challenges as articulated on the global and regional stage by our Pacific leaders who met here about two weeks ago in Apia,” Mr Latu said.
“Where climate change, again our principle concern and oceans as our key cross-cutting theme, was highlighted by our leaders when they met here in Samoa”
Concern over ocean pollution is likely to dominate the meeting, with Mr Latu saying the Pacific region is 98 percent ocean and 2 percent land.
He said a long-standing worry about the transportation of nuclear waste through the Pacific would also be on the agenda.
“We don’t know when these shipments happen and often we require prior notification, so we are aware of where these shipments are going and where they are coming from,” Mr Latu said.
” And it can get very political. But that has been a concern for a very, very long time.”
Mr Latu said SPREP also had a role in assisting member countries to access climate change finance.
“To achieve this we must focus our efforts in strengthening the work that we do to ensure that SPREP is able to mobilise, allocate and direct technical and financial resources to make a difference where it is relevant and has the greatest impact for our communities.”
The meeting is scheduled for the next three days.
Miners, First Nations feed fodder to government policy wonks
Government needs to help encourage greater Indigenous participation in the mining sector if it wants to make progress on national reconciliation and to “unlock billions of economic activity” across the country.
The Canadian Mineral Industry Federation (CMIF) submitted an Aug; 14 policy paper at the Energy and Mines Ministers conference in Saint Andrews, N.B.
CMIF is a coalition of mining interests, led by the Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, who believe Canada can be a top supplier of sustainably-sourced minerals and metals operating within a low-carbon regime.
Since the mining industry is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous people, CMIF said government needs to invest in Indigenous health, education, skills training, and make progress on resource revenue sharing. CMIF suggests government use industry “as a platform” toward national reconciliation.
The coalition wants a more balanced climate change policy that curbs emission but enables the economy to grow. Onerous compliance burden on “emissions-intensive” industries like mining will lead to mineral production moving to countries with “less stringent climate change policies.”
On the regulatory side, CMIF is asking for processes – from initial stage environmental assessment to the permitting stage – that are “effective, timely and coordinated” if Canada wants to be viewed as a favourable place to invest.
Before withdrawing land and walling off highly prospective areas to exploration, government should have a “systematic and structured process” in place that considers an area’s mineral potential.
And because of the increasing costs of doing business in the Far North, the Canada Infrastructure Bank needs to support infrastructure projects that benefit both industry and Indigenous communities.
CMIF also wants government support in the proposed CLEER (Clean, Low-energy, Effective, Engaged and Remediated) Clean Resources Innovation Supercluster, led by the Canada Mining Innovation Council and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation that would make Canada a world technology leader in sustainably-sourced resources.
“Canada’s mining industry, which operates some of the lowest-emitting, highest-tech, and socially-responsible mining operations globally, is looking forward to working with governments, communities and Indigenous peoples to get the foundational pieces in place to foster future growth and achieve our collective vision,” said Mining Association of Canada president-CEO Pierre Gratton.
Also at the conference were a group of Indigenous and advocacy groups who are urging the ministers to do more to protect the environment and communities negatively impacted by the industry.
“We’re not against ‘clean growth’ or ‘clean energy,’ but these must not be empty words,” said Jacinda Mack, a member of the Secwepemc and Nuxalk Nations in British Columbia, in a news release issued by Mining Watch.
Her community was negatively affected by the Mount Polley tailings spill in 2014. She is a coordinator of the First Nations Women Advocating for Responsible Mining.
“We’re here to alert the public and our governments that there are still serious problems with the way mining is done in this country and that there can’t be any clean growth or clean energy without first having clean mining,” she stated.
In Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, the Hazelwood brown coal mine is closed. In the NT, the Ranger uranium mine is due to shut down in four years’ time.
They’re very different mines, but with the same problem: what to do with the landscape once the mining stops.
From Australia to the Americas, from Europe to South Africa, there are plenty of lessons to be learned.
Germany leads by example
One of the best examples of restoring a post-mining landscape comes from Europe, where uranium mining by the once feared and secret Wismut company had created a environmental tragedy.
“It was military mining … a military operation to get the first uranium for the Soviet nuclear bomb,” says Gerhard Schmidt, a senior researcher with the Oeko Institute in Germany.
“It was not very sustainable … they mined and milled the ore and put the wastes into large piles of more than 100 million tonnes, some of which are the largest in the world.”
There were about 25 mines — open cut and underground — in East Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union and communist rule in Eastern Europe, the full extent of the problem was revealed.
But the Germans decided to do things properly.
They designed a 25-year, €8 billion program to clean up the mess and reinvent Wismut, providing jobs for tens of thousands of former mine workers.
From mine to valuable real estate
In America, former mining lands have become valuable real estate, for everything from solar farms to housing estates.
“Reclamation can be done in a way that makes for a very high value post-mining land use,” says Paul Robinson, a research director with the Southwest Research and Information Centre, based in New Mexico.
Mr Robinson points to the old (and once problematic) Questa mine in New Mexico as a success story.
“The company has retrofitted its mine with a reclamation plan, developed technology to reclaim very steep slopes that are a difficult problem at many mines, and installed innovative groundwater cut-off barriers to reduce acid drainage reaching streams,” he says.
But he also has concerns that higher levels of regulation around land rehabilitation is driving companies with unsustainable mining practices offshore, to less regulated markets.
What happens in poor countries?
That’s certainly true in South Africa, says Anthony Turton, a water expert and advisor to the mining industry.
Mr Turton, also a professor of environmental management at the University of the Free State, says the industry “hasn’t covered itself in too much glory” in his country.
He says there are “little green shoots of hope”, as some companies take old brownfields mining sites and turn them into stable or productive rehabilitated landscapes.
But he says pollution and health problems from a century of gold and coal mining now threaten the drinking water of Johannesburg, and South Africa’s ability to feed itself.
Almost 1.8 million people in and around Johannesburg are at “pretty much at ground zero”, he says, exposed to elevated levels of uranium and other contamination.
“I’m talking about the poorest of the poor in the case of South Africa,” he says.
“These are mostly people living in what we call squatter camps or informal settlements.
“They almost are all living within the 500-metre exclusion zone around the tailings disposal facility.
“They are almost all living on land that is undermined and is actively being undermined by these illegal miners on a daily basis.”
Next steps for Australia
Australia is also grappling with a host of environmental problems from old open pit uranium mines.
Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory and Mary Kathleen in Queensland both still require hundreds of millions of dollars of additional rehabilitation work, decades after closure.
And Australia has four uranium mines still producing yellowcake, about 30 operating iron ore mines, 40 working copper mines, 40 gold mines, 10 lead-zinc mines, around eight nickel mines and 100 productive coal mines.
Gavin Mudd, an associate professor of environmental engineering at RMIT, says Australia is getting better at managing post-mining landscapes — “but we’ve still got a long way to go”.
“The legacy is our landscapes … whether they be open cut mines, waste rock dumps and overburden dumps, basically mountains of waste, and often significantly changed ecosystems,” he says.
“The concern I always have is, have we really factored in the success of rehabilitation and our modern approaches to mining? And what are these landscapes going to look like in 50 years when they are much bigger mines?
“That’s one of the things that I always worry about, is what will be the long-term environmental outcomes in say 50 years’ time. And I guess that’s an open question.”
Over 7,600 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfills, 25,300 tonnes of fossil Green House Gases have been saved, and R24 million in financial benefits have been delivered to member companies of the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP). These, and other environmental successes, were celebrated by the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille in her address at the recent inaugural WISP business breakfast.
WISP is a free facilitation service, funded by the City of Cape Town as well as the Western Cape Government and delivered by GreenCape, the Sector Developmental Agency for the green economy in the province. By utilizing an Industrial Symbiosis approach that connects over 490 member companies with unused or residual resources such as energy, water, assets, services, waste, transport, logistics and expertise, WISP enhances business profitability and sustainability within the Western Cape. In addition, for every 290 tonnes of waste that WISP diverts, a job is created. To date, 25 temporary jobs, 17 permanent jobs at member organisations and 63 jobs in the economy have been generated. De Lille said: “It is very encouraging to see opportunity in products that would otherwise have been disposed on our landfill sites. In terms of our new Organisational Development Transformation Plan, we don’t want any further landfill sites to be built in the City of Cape Town. That will help all the initiatives that have come from WISP and its members to grow even further.”
She continued: “Industrial Symbiosis identifies business opportunities to improve resource efficiency and typically results in economic, social and environmental benefits for all the companies involved. It also gives a real expression for the circular economy which aims to see materials used productively for as long as possible before disposal.” De Lille added that the impacts of climate change present very real challenges to Cape Town in general and its economy in particular. “I would like to pay tribute to all the members of WISP who are using this programme to improve efficiencies in the economy and who are contributing to our response to climate change. You are helping to build a resilient city economy that is better prepared to deal with the shocks and stresses of climate change.”
The free-to-attend breakfast highlighted the value that WISP adds to businesses in the city and province with three companies sharing their resource efficiency stories. They detailed the changes they have made to energy and water consumption as well as waste management and how those changes have helped them to improve their business processes, operate more sustainably and save money.
Chris Handt, Operations Manager at ACA Threads, which has been a WISP member since its inception in 2013, unpacked the sewing thread manufacturer’s energy reduction journey. To decrease its electricity consumption, meters were installed in every department throughout the factory and the data from this was then analysed. Based on these findings, further interventions were implemented which included the staggering of machine usage, introduction of a variable speed drive compressor, changing all bulbs in the plant to energy saving ones and putting 131 KW Photo Voltaic (PV) cells on the roof. The outcome has been a drop in the factory’s monthly electricity usage from 130,000 KW to 100,000 KW with a saving of R40, 000. Furthermore, whatever electricity is not used from the PV cells is being pumped back into the grid. ACA Threads aims to continue cutting its electricity consumption and will be utilising lights with timers or motion sensors, replacing old motors with new inverter motors and adding additional PV capacity.
GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Tony Laughton shared that through its water conservation interventions, GSK experienced a 42% reduction in wastage over the past seven years. These have included the use of reject water from reverse osmosis tanks to supply water to the factory’s HVAC cooling towers, the installation of a solar hot water system to reduce water wastage whilst awaiting heating, retrofitting toilets with econo-flush systems and putting demand taps on 42 basins around the plant. After undergoing the City of Cape Town’s Water Star Rating Certification assessment, GSK received a 5-star rating for its water-saving efforts.
Charles Dominion, Owner of Simple Active Tactics SA Pty Ltd, noted the value of waste for his business. As a manufacturer and processor of granular abrasives for sandblasting, most of the company’s products are made by using waste from industry. Through WISP, the company has now been able to add to its product line-up by using recycled glass offcuts from the glazing industry, 200 tonnes per month of which was being dumped in landfills. The resultant product is used as abrasives as well as in swimming pool filtration systems.
GreenCape CEO Mike Mulcahy concluded the breakfast by saying: “There is evidence that there are increasing extreme events happening in regions and cities worldwide as a consequence both of climate change and how we’ve been producing goods and services in the past. There is a massive opportunity for Cape Town and this region to take a leading role in providing solutions to many of these problems. GreenCape’s role is to enable companies to look for these solutions, access opportunities, succeed in their businesses and access the green economy.”
The breakfast is one of the many networking opportunities offered to WISP members, comprising companies and organisations of all sizes, sectors and turnovers within the Western Cape. These are designed to help grow businesses and make them more resource efficient.
Young environmental visionaries from the University of Cape Town took first place in the Growthpoint Greenovate Awards for the second year running.
The awards recognise innovative solutions for the property industry to environmental challenges.
Now in its second year, the awards programme is an exciting initiative by Growthpoint Properties in association with the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). It inspires and encourages students of the built environment to discover, explore and invent ways to live more sustainably.
This year’s participants were from the University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Students were challenged to come up with ideas for any property-related project that makes the way we live greener and our environmental footprint lighter. Groups from each of the participating universities competed internally first and the two top projects from each were chosen as finalists.
The winners were announced at a gala dinner in Sandton Central with keynote speaker, trend analyst Dion Chang of Flux Trends, who warned: “If you don’t take the time to think proactively, you will increasingly find yourself reacting to your environment rather than influencing it.”
The UCT team of Cédric Fournier and Priscilla Nthai, with supervisors Saul Nurick and Abby Street, were named the winners of the Greenovate Awards 2016. They focused on the perceptions of occupants in office buildings that contain green building features and initiatives.
This team of outstanding young green innovators took home R30,000 in prize money. They will also be fully sponsored to attend the GBCSA’s Green Building Convention in Cape Town in 2017 where they will present their research to local and international property professionals and green leaders.
The University of the Witwatersrand team of Nthabiseng Makgabo and Bongiwe Dlamini, supervised by Samuel Azasu, scooped second place with their comparative analysis of the factors that influence the choice between green and conventional buildings in selected nodes in Gauteng. The team earned a prize of R15,000 for their insightful project and tickets to the Green Building Convention in 2017.
The third placed young green thinker came from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Lungela Gcwabaza, supervised by Gerrit Crafford, investigated the obstacles to effective implementation of strategy within quantity surveying firms as a method for enhancing business sustainability in the long run. He won R10,000 and tickets to the Green Building Convention 2016.
Werner van Antwerpen, head of sustainability at Growthpoint Properties, explains: “By nurturing innovation for a greener, healthier, more sustainable environment, everyone wins. The Greenovate Awards is producing pioneering student projects that show new ways to drive green building thinking forward, to ensure a better, greener future. Growthpoint is proud to collaborate with GBCSA, the universities, and their students to provide a platform to shows and grows green innovation.”
Van Antwerpen was part of the judging panel that comprised some of SA’s top green minds, including:
- Thulani Kuzwayo, Managing Executive: Public Sector at Green Building Council South Africa;
- Evan Rice, Business Development Manager for Tesla;
- Martin Smith, Technical Director – Buildings at Aurecon, and;
- Mike Aldous, Associate – Green Building & Sustainability Services/BIM Champion at Mott MacDonald.
Brian Wilkinson, GBCSA CEO, says: “GBCSA is thrilled to partner with Growthpoint for the second consecutive year on the prestigious Greenovate student awards. They recognise and reward some of South Africa’s top students, who are the future green leaders and innovators in South Africa and are set to change the way the world is designed, built and operated for the sake of our environment and future generations to come.”
The ways in which the Greenovate Awards is building a better world go well beyond its annual competition.
Nurturing green innovation, GBCSA has offered discounted Accredited Professional Training at universities since 2013. This has consistently grown each year, expanding from one university and 45 property studies students in 2013 to five universities and over 250 students in property, construction management, architecture, interior design and quantity surveying in 2016.
Donné Atkinson, Education and Training Manager at GBCSA, says: “The Greenovate Awards have certainly added to the motivation to attend the programme. Much of the growth has occurred in the last two years and we expect this will grow even further in 2017. GBCSA is thrilled that, this year, over 250 graduates will enter the marketplace with awareness around how the design, construction and operation of the built environment, when done right, can mitigate against climate change and reduce humankind’s negative impact on the environment.”
The success of the competition will continue to see the awards programme becoming even bigger in future.
Van Antwerpen reports: “Ultimately, the Growthpoint Greenovate Awards programme will be made available to all universities in the country with the appropriate built environment faculties. In addition, in 2017, it will be adapted and expanded to other faculties too, to recognise and encourage environmentally innovative thinking among even more of South Africa’s future leaders.”
Growthpoint is the largest South African primary listed REIT and strives to be a leading international property company providing space to thrive. It creates value for all its stakeholders with innovative and sustainable property solutions. Growthpoint is a Platinum Founding Member of GBCSA and a member of the GBCSA’s Green Building Leader Network, and has been included in the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index for seven years running. It owns and manages a diversified portfolio of 526 property assets including 467 properties in South Africa, 58 properties in Australia through its investment in Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ) and a 50% interest in the properties at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.
Founded in 2008, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is one of over 95 members of the World Green Building Council. It exists to inspire the property industry to design, build, operate and tenant better, greener buildings. GBCSA operates in the commercial, residential and public sectors. Its aim is to work with its membership community to sustainably transform the built environment, and strives to preserve the planet for future generations through advocacy, membership, certification and training. The GBCSA is the official certification body for Green Star SA and EDGE residential projects.
Claire Henly and Kelly Carlin describe how the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is creating access to sustainable electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa — and challenges that stand in the way.A team from Rocky Mountain Institute is working in sub-Saharan Africa to address barriers to sustainable electricity access. Since September of last year, we have been working with an African government to find ways to achieve ambitious electricity access targets using a combination of on- and off-grid resources. Although providing sustainable, affordable electricity access in the developing world is fraught with challenges, many of the lessons we’ve learned are cause for optimism and are applicable to other developing countries.
THE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION OPPORTUNITY
The rewards for both human and economic development are enormous, and easy to see. Standing on a narrow, red-dirt path, we’re surrounded by small subsistence farms of banana trees and short, pale green bushes of coffee. Two small shops in this farming town are doing a bustling business—a rustic bar is serving banana beer to farmers coming in from a day of work and a small general store on the opposite side of the building is selling soaps, spices, light bulbs, and fertilizer to local women—many with babies wrapped against their backs with colorful cloth.
What’s remarkable about this scene is that here, in one of the poorest places in the world, where there is no electricity grid, a small energy-efficient television is playing in the bar and a small but powerful LED bulb lights the room. The general store now offers a mobile-phone charging service to people who don’t have electricity at home, and it will stay open after sunset, with its own pair of LED bulbs lighting the counter. A 100-watt solar panel is perched on the corrugated aluminum roof of the building, while inside, between the two businesses, a lithium-ion battery, charged from a typical day of sunshine, will provide power into the night. In the modest homes of farmers in the village nearby, a few families have similar, smaller solar-battery units providing cell phone charging and light by which they prepare food, work into the evening, and allow their children to study. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa this level of service is comparable to—and complementary to—grid service, in that most grid-connected homes and business use electricity in a similar way.
But even at this modest scale, 68 percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa—or more than 600 million people—did not have access to electricity in 2013. In Asia, there are an additional 530 million people without access to electricity. Globally, there are 1.2 billion people without the power to light a bulb over a kitchen table, run a small grain mill, refrigerate food, or run a business after dark. That’s over 1 billion people who lack an essential ingredient for economic growth and social welfare improvement.
A CHANCE TO MITIGATE FUTURE CARBON EMISSIONS
Providing people with affordable, clean power is both a tremendous economic opportunity and a substantial opportunity to mitigate future carbon emissions. By 2040, sub-Saharan Africa is projected to consume 1,600 tWh of electricity, the equivalent of the combined 2013 consumptionof Latin America and the Caribbean, or the equivalent of the power produced by more than 600 large (500 MW) coal power plants. How quickly and cleanly sub-Saharan Africa reaches this level of electricity consumption depends on thoughtful on- and off-grid electricity planning.
Rapidly increasing access to electricity faces three challenges: developing country electricity systems are often plagued by high costs, off-grid market growth is progressing slowly, and there is a lack of complete and coordinated electricity planning across the public sector, the private sector, and the development partner community.
Grid electricity can be costly—In countries with few domestic natural-gas or coal resources, traditional electricity generation can be an expensive proposition. Without simple, cheap generation solutions, utilities often rely on expensive but dependable diesel generation. Even so, electricity blackouts can occur throughout the year, particularly during dry seasons when hydropower is less available.
Off-grid market growth is slow—A nascent off-grid electricity market is beginning to provide some people and businesses with reliable solar-plus-battery, solar-plus-diesel, and micro-hydro electricity, but the rate of uptake does not yet reflect the magnitude of the need.
Energy planning is incomplete and uncoordinated—There are some significant but resolvable problems with the business-as-usual approach to electricity planning in sub-Saharan Africa. First, few parties take a holistic view of the power sector when developing their approach to electricity development. Such a view of the power sector would consider all off-grid, centralized-generation and grid-extension, and demand-side resources in order to create an integrated electricity-access strategy. Second, there are multiple stakeholders with competing approaches, agendas, and interests who do not rally around a common strategy. This leads to confusion, limited effectiveness, poor deployment of investment and development dollars, and slowed impact. Finally, there may not be enough capacity in developing countries to evaluate, operate, and maintain the multitude of emerging energy resources, including off-grid resources.
There are several concrete ways developing countries can address the three challenges of costly grid electricity, slow off-grid market growth, and a lack of coordination between on- and off-grid planning.
Costly grid electricity: While recommendations will be different for different countries, our experience thus far shows that even this small country can avoid many tens of millions of dollars per year in grid operation costs by doing three things:
- Deploying aggressive, utility-led energy efficiency programs
- Investing in solar-plus-diesel hybrid systems to replace the pure diesel rental systems currently on the grid
- Prioritizing investment in transmission and distribution loss reduction and congestion reduction
Slow off-grid market growth: Governments can speed the growth of the off-grid market by launching a government supported, private sector-driven, off-grid electrification program that:
- Addresses any affordability gap between off-grid products and the citizens who need them through financing or subsidy
- Increases awareness of off-grid products and their use in areas of the country that will not be connected to the grid in the next five years by establishing a clear off-grid plan for the country and a national off-grid awareness campaign to educate consumers
- Develops consistent and supportive policies for quality products, incentives, and imports
- Supports scaling enablers, such as capital deployment and workforce training, by setting up effective debt facilities and education programs
Planning is incomplete and uncoordinated: On- and off-grid development should be considered together. Off-grid technologies and businesses are racing into emerging markets as the costs of solar and batteries drop. While many governments are eager to take advantage of the technology, few governments have national energy plans that take into account the value and costs of stand-alone solar home systems or minigrids. It is crucial that each government develop a complete plan that coordinates efforts and capacity across on- and off-grid electrification by:
- Developing an on-grid integrated resource plan to harness new, lower-risk, and lower-cost technologies that also considers off-grid opportunities
- Driving a coordinated off-grid program with clear roles and responsibilities for all players, including substantial and continuous involvement of the private sector
- Avoiding distraction from new support that does not clearly fit into the plan
RMI’S PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
This spring, our work in our first sub-Saharan Africa country shifted from strategic planning to handing off implementation to partners on the ground. Along with ensuring a successful start to implementation there, we are looking to apply our approach in additional countries.
With any luck, the subtle changes visible in that rural village—light bulbs keeping general stores open later, televisions in bars, and families with a light to turn on in the evening—may soon not be so subtle. RMI will be there to help drive this change.
“Africa doesn’t need Europe’s help, it needs partnership,” says David Otieno, head of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) Secretariat.
His statement best summarises the spirit of the Second Stakeholder Forum which brought together more than 400 participants from Europe and Africa last month – ranging from ministers and commissioners to international organisations, the private sector, academia and civil society – to discuss renewable energy investments and innovations between the two trading blocs.
Leaders from both continents applauded the progress made towards the 2020 AEEP targets. Although they agreed more time is needed, plans to extend access to modern and sustainable energy supplies to at least half of the continent’s 1.1 billion people, to increase the use of renewable energy on the continent, and to improve energy security, are still afoot.
Africa’s economy is growing currently at an average rate of 3 per cent per year and in the last decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, the continent’s power supply is not keeping pace.
As Jacques Moulot, chief energy specialist at the African Development Bank, points out, without a steady energy supply, real economic grow on the continent is impossible. “Energy is to economy what blood is to people,” he highlighted in his speech.
So what part can European Union policies play in plugging the energy deficit?
Renewables – the solution to energy poverty?
At present, over 600 million people lack access to electricity on the continent. The situation is particularly critical in the central region where less than 10 per cent of the population in countries like South Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic have access to electricity.
As a starting point, both African and European ministers agree that renewable energy systems – such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power – must play a crucial role in contributing towards universal and affordable energy access. This is already happening – the Forum detailed 58 joint initiatives which support renewable energy developments on the continent with EU funding and technical assistance.
“Renewable energy resources in Africa offers opportunities to not only fulfil the region’s energy needs, but also tap into the European market, with its energy bill of 1 billion euros a day,” Dr. Elham Ibrahim, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, told Equal Times.
Dr. Michael J. Saulo, of the Technical University of Mombasa, Kenya agrees: “Africa needs Europe and Europe needs Africa. Europe has the know-how and the private investment, Africa has a vast potential for renewables. All factors converge together.”
Analysts are calling on both partners to do more to attract the private sector, but a lack of policy and regulatory coherence as well as regional integration is a major obstacle to investment.
Yofi Grant, head of Databank, a Ghanaian private investment fund, agrees that “the private sector in sub-Saharan Africa is growing faster than in any other region of the world,” and yet investors are still failing to get on-board with big development projects.
“The African private sector and foreign investors must be more proactive and get involved with the development of the continent. This way, joint policies can be launched without fear of duplication,” he told Equal Times.
Top of the agenda
Between 2014 and 2020, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) intends to invest between 2.5 and 2.7 billion euros on energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa. “Energy access is at the top of our agenda and Africa is in the driving seat of this transition,” said DG-DEVCO’s deputy head of unit, Felice Zaccheo.
Several financial mechanisms have been designed to combine public funding with private, commercial and bank funds, managed by the African Investment Facility – a financial mechanism that combines EU grants with other resources such as development loans to foster investments which will have a positive socio-economic impact. The Electrification Financing Initative, a project that supports electrification investments in rural areas, is just one example.