Green buildings: conserving energy, preserving the environment and saving money

There is a global shift towards energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and green buildings. South Africa’s recent signing of the Paris Agreements, coupled with increasing demand on the power grid is driving many businesses to invest in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. Global interest and investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are at an all-time high. At the same time, case studies for the ‘greening’ of existing buildings, are proving that such investments can not only save energy, but also provide an attractive financial return for building owners.

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For example, in 2009, the Empire State Building in the United States embarked on a project to reduce costs, increase real estate value and protect the environment. In 2011, the building beat its first year energy-efficiency target by 5%, saving $2.4m. The following three years saw the program generate a total of approximately $7.5m in energy savings at the landmark building. The multi-million dollar investment in ‘greening’ the building is projected to save 38% in energy consumption, not only saving money for the building’s owners, but also for the building’s tenants who agreed to build out their office space to high performance standards.

On-site renewable energy generation

The next big trend in the evolution of green buildings is to use on-site renewable energy generation to deliver more energy to the electric grid than it consumes from the grid over the course of a year. These buildings, called ‘nett zero’ or ‘nett positive’, are a key global strategy for delivering on the Paris COP21 commitments.

The 2016 Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey of more than 1,200 facility and energy management executives in the United States, Brazil, China, Germany and India indicates that as many as 72% of the organisations surveyed anticipate increased investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy over the next 12 months. It also pointed to lack of funding, insufficient payback, uncertain savings and a lack of technical expertise as the most significant barriers to investment.

Similarly, there is a perception in South Africa that investing in green buildings is prohibitively expensive. While it can be costly, the cost savings will usually more than make up for the expenditure over time and subsequent to the payback period, the savings add directly to the bottom line. Over and above the cost saving and contribution towards a more sustainable environment, there are multiple additional benefits to energy efficient buildings, such as the positive effect on a business’ brand and reputation with investors, customers and employees. There is a “feel-good” factor to knowing that a business is concerned for the environment.

Start with little things

There are a number of ways that companies can begin investing in energy efficiency and they don’t all involve the investment of massive amounts of money into complete building retrofits. Building owners can start with little things, like properly insulating their building to reduce the cooling load, thus reducing the size and costs of the air-conditioning system.

Using sensor technology to automatically detect people’s presence in a conference room or office and adjusting the lighting, cooling and ventilation accordingly also makes a big impact, as equipment is not in use unnecessarily. Building owners with multiple tenants can also promote energy efficiency by including energy efficiency provisions in leases to incentivise high performance. They can also educate tenants and promote healthy competition between tenants to see who can reduce energy the most over a given time period.

Businesses looking to ‘go green’ adopt a phased approach, ensuring that the right steps are taken in the right order. The iconic building in the US example shows us that having a knowledgeable team of experts on board and following a proper, well thought out master plan can ensure that benefit is maximised with minimum investment.

With such a strong business case for energy efficiency and renewable energy, South African companies should have no excuse for not investing in greener buildings. With the global trend evidencing a move towards a more sustainable future, South African companies need to act now to take full advantage of the significant financial benefits while helping to preserve the environment and drive economic growth and job creation in our communities.
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How to use product life cycle analysis to your advantage. (David Baggs)

Source: bizcommunity

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Concrete brise soleil keeps this glass-enveloped building cool in sweltering Ghana

If you associate concrete with bulky and unsustainable architecture take a look at this beautiful and innovative airport terminal in Accra, Ghana. Italian architect Mario Cucinella, in collaboration with Deweger Gruter Brown & Partners, has designed a new building in Accra, Ghana that uses concrete in a surprisingly light and eco-friendly way. The clever brise soleil passive design strategy allows the building to be bright and open to natural light while keeping out the sweltering noon/afternoon sun in the summertime, cooling the building when it needs cooling the most. The design has already received the 4-Stars award by Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which makes Cucinella’s One Airport Square the first green commercial complex in Ghana.

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One Airport Square is a striking building featuring a very unique structure on its façade: a criss-crossing brise soleil made out of concrete. Its powerful aesthetic was inspired by the motifs of the traditional African fabrics and peculiar patterns of palm tree bark. While the design embraces local traditions, it also meets the needs of environmental sustainability.

The building’s shell is a combination of overhanging slabs and diagonal frames that shelter the interior against direct sun rays. Thanks to this design, One Airport Square features an unexpected envelope entirely made of glass and, therefore, 17,000 m² of bright interiors that are also protected from the intense sun. Who would have ever imagined a comfortable, completely glazed 9-story building in the heart of Africa?

Besides acting as a giant brise soleil, One Airport Square’s irregular grid is also a load-bearing element of the building.Interestingly, Cucinella did not simply deliver an eye-catching and sustainable landmark. The development of the Kotoka International Airport area in Accra is also a great public space. From the urban point of view, One Airport Square project is a congregation piazza that’s active day and night and capable of hosting various events and activities. The commercial gallery of the ground floor contains shops, restaurants and cafes, allowing One Airport Square to make a significant contribution to the surrounding community, landscape and providing an example in terms of ethics, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability.

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How to use product life cycle analysis to your advantage. (David Baggs)

Source: inhabitat

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Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback

If you’re a fan of glamping, you’ll love this eco-friendly passive home nestled in the Australian outback. Archterra Architects designed the Bush House, a solar-powered abode that blends environmental sustainability with contemporary luxury. Located near Margaret River in western Australia, this low-profile house is topped with a single-pitched roof to “distill into built form, the feelings of camping under a simple sheltering tarp.”

Built for minimal maintenance, the 168-square-meter Bush Home was constructed with prefab steel frames and clad in zincalume steel and large windows. The galvanized steel framing, which is also used in the interior, will develop a mottled patina over time. A large single-pitched roof with large overhanging eaves protects the home from unwanted solar heat gain.

The home is arranged in a simple rectangular plan bisected by a thick rammed-earth wall that separates the interior into its two main parts: the sleeping quarters on the west and the living zone to the east. The seamless indoor-outdoor experience is strengthened by the large cedar-frame windows that opens the home up to views and natural light, as well as the use of wood, that continues from the recycled jarrah wood planks used on the outdoor decking into the interior, where Australian Hoop pine lines the ceilings.

The Bush House follows passive solar strategies to minimize energy use, such as northern orientation, the promotion of cooling cross-flow ventilation, and solar shading. Two rammed earth walls and a concrete floor slab help retain thermal mass. The house is also equipped with a 3kW ground-mounted solar array, rooftop solar hot water heater, and a worm-farm blackwater treatment system that irrigates the garden with recycled, nutrient-rich water.

Source: inhabitat

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The thing we need most to deal with climate change — beer — is threatened by climate change

Every single smart food executive is thinking hard about the environment these days. That’s because food companies depend on the environment for their raw materials, because their supply chains affect the environment, and because everyone else is doing it.

Beer companies are no exception. Some are taking a beating on the cost of raw materials as the climatic and economic conditions change. From NPR’s The Salt:

This new reality is hitting home in parts of California. Brewers there are reeling in the face of a relentless drought, now in its fourth year. The lack of precipitation has cast a dark shadow on their growing industry because water is one of the four main ingredients in beer – along with barley, hops, and yeast. Water is also essential to keeping brew house equipment clean and sanitized.

Some companies have even had to cut back on production due to limited water availability from the drought. Bear Republic Brewing Company on the depleted Russian River in Sonoma County tells The Salt it has had to pull out of distributing to 27 retail markets across the U.S.

Hops are particularly pricey these days:

According to Ceres, an environmental sustainability group that’s working with the beer industry, warmer temperatures and extreme weather events are also hurting hops, which are cultivated mainly in the Pacific Northwest. “Rising demand and lower yields have driven the price of hops up by more than 250 percent in the past decade,” Ceres notes.

So brewers are trying to do their part. Sierra Nevada has a CO2 recovery system that captures the gas created during fermentation and re-uses it, preventing emissions and eliminating the need to buy (and truck) the stuff. Smuttynose Brewing Co. in New Hampshire has a LEED-Gold certified headquarters, which keeps the interior at the ideal temperature for making great beer, no matter the crazy weather. Klamath Basin Brewing Company is using locally abundant geothermal energy. Alaskan Brewing Company is burning its spent grain, reducing its fuel oil use by as much as 70 percent. SAB Miller, the massive international brewer, is turning to local farmers in Africa to supply it with cassava as a replacement for barley. New Belgium Brewing Company is reducing waste, energy use, greenhouse gasses, and water consumption. Increasingly, you have plenty of options for buying your beer both locally and sustainably.

Source: grist


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Greenhouse Gas Management – Measurement and Reporting

By Teresa Legg


With an increased awareness and concern of environmental issues, specifically global warming and climate change, and growing evidence of the financial benefit of environmental sustainability, stakeholder’s expectations have matured. Shareholders, investors, customers and employees are demanding a better understanding of an organisation’s environmental impacts. Measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions provides organisations with the base from which to understand their GHG impacts, manage their GHG risks and embrace the opportunities of a low carbon economy. This also provides a means to effectively communicate these outcomes with relevant stakeholders.

This chapter aims to discuss the benefits of measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions in business, as well as outline the process and requirements of internationally accepted GHG measurement and reporting frameworks.

What are the Benefits of Reporting GHG Emissions?

The value of embracing a sustainable strategy is demonstrated through reduced costs, profitability, increased efficiencies, increased market share and customer loyalty, as well as reduced business risk, both reputational and financial. More importantly, a sustainable strategy drives innovation in product and technology, standing a company in good stead for long term success.

Embedding environmental sustainability into your strategy requires a thorough understanding of your impacts and the risks and opportunities that these impacts present. These risks and opportunities need to be brought into your strategy, managed and continually reviewed to feed back into strategy.

You cannot however understand the extent of your impacts and manage them without having a solid measurement framework. In light of expected carbon taxation, measurement also allows a prudent organisation to understand the financial risk of its emissions, both internal and external.

Due to the fundamental link between strategy and environmental impacts, executive leaders need to sponsor the measurement and management of GHG emissions. Understanding impacts is key to a sound strategy and therefore strategy should dictate such impact assessments and the results thereof should be fed back into the strategy. Executive commitment also secures funding and resources and places a priority on the carbon footprint project.

Carbon Footprint Reporting Standards for Business

Understanding your carbon footprint is a starting point to identify areas of the business where greenhouse gas emissions occur and where they need to be managed.

So what is a carbon footprint and why can it be complicated? Simply, a carbon footprint is a calculation of the total GHG emissions caused directly and indirectly by an organisation or company. This is typically calculated and reported over a period of 12 months. What often makes a carbon footprint complicated is defining the boundaries of the audit and categorising and reporting emissions in line with international standards and protocols, much like one would report financial information.

The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, developed by the GHG Protocol Initiative is widely regarded as the standard for corporate GHG accounting and company reporting. From a carbon perspective, the protocol is analogous to the generally accepted financial accounting principles (GAAP) for an organisation’s normal accounting and reporting practices.

The GHG Protocol Initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership of businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, and others convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The initiative has developed internationally accepted greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standards that have been broadly adopted by business worldwide.

Calculating a Carbon Footprint

The process of calculating a carbon footprint entails translating business activity data into a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) for 7 selected greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perflourocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen triflouride (NF3).

To find where these GHG emissions occur in business involves building a GHG inventory from which to operate. This is where a carbon footprint can become complicated and may require the skill of a GHG professional in complex operations or business structures.

Planning a GHG Inventory

Your GHG inventory requires a skeleton of business structures, facilities and emission sources from which your emissions data will be sourced. To define what will be measured, the GHG Protocol provides guidance to assist in determining both the organisational and operational boundaries of the carbon footprint. The organisational boundary refers to entities and facilities that will be included while the operational boundary defines which operations and sources of emissions will be included.

Organisational Boundary

The GHG Protocol provides three options to define the organisational boundary. These options are as follows:

Equity Share

Under the equity share approach, a company accounts for GHG emissions from operations according to its share of equity in the operation.

Financial Control

The company has financial control over an operation if it has the ability to direct the financial and operating policies of an operation with a view to gaining economic benefits from its activities. Under this approach, the economic substance of the relationship between the company and the operation takes precedence over the legal ownership status.

Operational Control

Under the operational control approach, a company accounts for emissions from operations over which it has operational control. A company has operational control over an operation if it has authority to introduce and implement operating policies.

The operational control approach is preferred as it provides the most complete GHG inventory. It also lends itself to performance tracking as managers can be held accountable for activities under their control and companies are also likely to have better access to operational data under their control. Most importantly, it has the advantage that a company takes ownership of the GHG emissions that it can directly influence.

Once the boundary approach is decided upon, the entities and facilities included in the boundary are identified and form part of the GHG inventory.

Operational Boundary

The operational boundary defines which operations and sources of emissions will be included in the carbon footprint. Examples of emission sources include motor vehicles, generators and air conditioning equipment.

GHG emissions are categorised as direct and indirect and accordingly grouped into scopes for accounting and reporting purposes.

Emissions are categorised as ‘direct’ when they are generated from activities or sources within the reporting company’s organisational boundary and which the company owns or controls. Under the GHG Protocol these are called Scope 1 emissions and are accounted for as such. These largely include fuel burned in company owned assets.

‘Indirect’ sources are those emissions related to the company’s activities, but that are emitted from sources owned or controlled by a third party company. These are categorised as either Scope 2 emissions for purchased electricity or as Scope 3 for other non-owned or controlled emissions e.g. rental cars, commercial airlines or paper use.

Under the GHG protocol reporting of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are mandatory. Reporting of Scope 3 emissions is voluntary but encouraged where the activities are material to the overall footprint of the organisation.

Calculating Emissions

The next step involves sourcing business activity information for the relevant emission sources. Business activity data could be electricity consumption or fuel purchases. For each emission source one needs to determine what would be the most appropriate activity units required, e.g. litres of fuel , as well as the availability of such data. Estimations, assumptions and samples may need to be applied where data is incomplete or unavailable.

The data collection process is often an overlooked step, however sourcing the most accurate, appropriate data is vital for the credibility of the report output. As they say, rubbish in, rubbish out. So rigorous quality checks on all data gathered will ensure good quality data is fed into the analysis.

With business activity data for each emission source in hand, the data is converted into carbon dioxide equivalents using formulas and factors that are relevant to the data, organisation and geography concerned.

Relevant, updated factors to apply to the emission calculations also need to be sourced. A review needs to be made on which factors are most relevant bearing in mind the activity data available to the analyst and the geography in which the emission sources occur. Factors are specific to emission source and are generally updated annually. The factor producing the most accurate emission value should be applied.

In its simplest form, a calculation formula would look like this:

Activity data × emissions factor = CO2e emissions

Where activity data quantifies a business activity in units e.g. litres of fuel purchased, tonnes of paper used and the emissions factor converts activity data to emissions values e.g. Kg CO2e per litre fuel or Kg CO2e per tonne of paper used.

However, in reality formulas become more complex where assumptions and estimations need to be applied to incomplete or unavailable data, or where certain emissions require additional factors to be applied. For example in air travel emissions additional factors to account for uplift and radiative forcing are applied.

Due to the varying ability of GHG to trap heat in the atmosphere, each GHG has a ‘global warming potential’. Global warming potential (GWP) refers to a gas’s heat trapping potential relative to that of CO2. Using GWP factors, emissions from all 7 greenhouse gases are converted into a common metric of CO2e and reported as such for consistency and like for like comparisons.

It is important that all formulas, factors, estimations and assumptions are clearly documented in the GHG inventory for transparency and consistency in reporting.

Selecting Base Year and Setting Targets

Managing emissions requires a commitment to reduce absolute emissions or intensity emissions (e.g. emissions per unit of activity). To set this target, one needs to measure against a yardstick – this being the base year emissions. Therefore, a base year needs to be selected from which future years’ performance will be measured against. It is important that the base year emissions are based on reliable emissions data.

Once you have selected a base year, set short and long term targets. Targets can be absolute (e.g. reduce emissions by 5% year on year from base year) or rate based (e.g. reduce emissions per employee headcount or unit of production).

Absolute targets are preferred as they result in a real emissions reduction, whereas emissions may increase in the face of a rate based decrease in emissions.

A strategy and work plan should provide a framework from which to initiate and run reduction projects to meet these targets. This is an on-going process which requires constant measurement and review.


Businesses may want to communicate their performance to stakeholders such as investors, customers, employees or the business community. In reporting information, it is valuable to follow the guiding principles of The GHG Protocol (see insert).

Emissions need to be reported for all seven greenhouse gases separately in metric tonnes of CO2e. Emissions must be categorised and reported by scope, clearly stating the scope totals.

The boundaries of the inventory must be described together with a description of the company.

All emissions information, including methodologies, calculations, assumptions, estimations and exclusions must be disclosed.

The base year must be documented with a view of performance over time.

For credibility of reported information it is wise (and in some cases required) to have your footprint assessed by a 3rd party GHG professional, especially when publically reporting.

In Conclusion

Business operates within the context of an environment. Best practice principles, standards and guidelines provide methodologies, processes and guidelines which if followed rigorously will provide a deep understanding of an organisation’s internal and external impacts. For responsible and accountable governance it is imperative to understand and manage the risks and opportunities that emerge from these environmental impacts.

Source: The Sustainable Energy Resource handbook Volume 5



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A Case Study for Waste Management in the Hospitality Sector

By Chris van Zyl

The Vineyard Hotel is a privately owned hotel situated in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. The Hotel’s vision is to work in harmony with the environment and the community and in partnership with our stakeholders. Value is placed on sustainable growth, profitability and long term success through partnership with employees, guests and the community. The main aim of the Hotel’s waste policy is to reduce the volume of waste that goes to landfill to a minimum, with the end goal being zero waste to landfill. The period of this submission is March 2013 to February 2014.

The Hotel has managed to reduce its waste to landfill, in April 2003, from 336 wheelie bins and 58 loose bags to an average of 51 bins to landfill in the last financial year (March 2013-February 2014). This equates to in excess of 96% reduction in waste to landfill in nine years, while the Hotel’s average occupancy has constantly been growing; having added an additional 41 rooms over this period. Waste reduction is an integral part of the Vineyard Hotel’s sustainability policy. At the Vineyard Hotel, all staff receive training in the waste policy at induction and in the synergy sustainability training session. The training explains exactly how the waste should be separated at the source and then transported to the waste facility. They are also informed about the bigger picture and the impact of waste on the environment.

Waste Minimisation Facility

In April 2003, the Hotel’s waste removal company removed 336 x 240 litre waste bins and 58 loose bags, and in June 2003, they removed 255 x 240 litre bins and 30 loose bags. The waste contractor was visiting the site seven days per week and removing almost 12 bins per day. In September 2003, the Hotel contracted a waste minimization company; Save All. Prior to this, they were doing a minimum amount of recycling. When Save All started, the Hotel implemented a rigorous recycling programme which has reduced the waste to landfill significantly. By January 2004, waste pickups were reduced from seven per week to four per week and the volumes had dropped significantly to 132 x 240 litre bins. The cost of removing the 336 bins was very close to the new rate with four pickups per week.

In June 2009, Save All was absorbed by Waste Plan. Waste Plan provides a more inclusive service, which includes a live website to view waste and recyclable figures, management of the site and regular visits, on-site weighing of the waste, disposal of hazardous waste and recycling of e-waste. By March 2014, 51 bins were sent to landfill and 92% of the Hotel’s waste was recycled. Waste to landfill was also reduced to collection only three times per week.

Waste minimisation is communicated to the guests by:

  • Battery and cork collection boxes in the foyer
  • Living Green Facebook page and the green TV channel in the rooms
  • Information in the guest folder in the rooms
  • Signage outside the waste room
Waste monitoring (2013-2014)
  • Target: Waste recycled 2013, average of 94%
  • Current: Waste recycled average of 92%

The Vineyard Hotel compared its waste figures from July 2011 to June 2012 to the submission dates between March 2013 andMarch 2014. The waste recycled percentage improved from 89% to 92%. The total weight of the recycled waste is 409321 kg with just 8% of the total waste weight, 36523 kg, going to landfill. Over this 12 month period, the volume of recycling at the Vineyard prevented the emission of 634.06 metric tons of CO2 per‘wet weight’tons of material recycled.

This figure is calculated based on the difference in energy, and, therefore, carbon dioxide emissions between manufacturing material from raw materials and recycling that material. The Hotel achieved these results due to on-going staff training, signage, the presence of a waste minimization company on-site and other initiatives.

Waste minimization recycling initiatives for kitchen, restaurants & banqueting

In order to maximise recycling efficiency, a trio-bin system is operated in the Hotel’s staff canteen, banqueting and restaurant areas separating the wet waste from the dry. One bin is for wet organic waste, one for dry paper-type waste, and one is for plastic, glass bottles and tins. In the kitchen, the waste bins are separated into dry waste, green organic trimmings and protein- contaminated waste.

At the back-of-house, a tri-bin system is in place, separating waste into wet or food waste; plastics, tins, glass and paper, polystyrene and Tetra Pak and a twin-bin system is provided in the Conference Centre to encourage guests to participate in waste separation at the source. In June 2012, the Hotel started to outsource its canteen lunches and suppers. This has reflected positively on the generation of waste in the kitchen.

A green procurement document has been designed to ensure that, wherever possible, articles purchased have a recyclable content and chemicals are checked to confirm that they are safe for the environment. This department also collects used paper and sorts it to send to other departments for in-house printing.

All SAB bottles that can be returned are collected from the various outlets and collected by Peninsula Beverages and refunds are obtained. Glass jam jars, from the restaurants, are returned to the suppliers and refunds are obtained. The Hotel uses glass mineral water bottles that are 23% recycled content, except at the pool where plastic is preferred for safety reasons. All bottles are sent for recycling. A Vivreau water filtrate system was installed to reduce the volume of bottled water required in the lounge and restaurant. This system filters tap water and generates either still or carbonated water, which is then bottled in high quality, reusable glass bottles, thus reducing the carbon footprint and waste generated from bottles that would normally be sent for recycling.

Used cooking oil is returned to the supplier, Fry More Oils, and the Hotel is compensated for the used oil. This oil is then passed on to a company called Cape Used Cooking Oil, which uses the old oil in the manufacture of biodiesel. From March 2013 till February 2014, the Hotel has purchased 11,900 litres and recycled 5950 litres for biodiesel.

Following new agricultural laws, requiring untreated protein to be barred from becoming animal feed, all contaminated protein waste now goes for composting via the Bokashi process. This process is odour free, and the waste is turned into compost over an 8 to 12 week period, the Hotel then purchases this back for reuse in the garden.

Material Safety Data Sheets have been obtained for all the chemicals used in the Hotel and, where possible, chemicals that are harmful to staff and the environment have been replaced with environmentally compliant ones. New chemicals are first checked by a chemical engineer before they are introduced. A microbial solution called Effective Microbes (EM) is dosed into the fat traps and drains. It digests and breaks down the fats in the pipes, thus keeping the pipes clean of blockages, free from odour, and it prevents fats from entering the municipal sewerage line. This is also used to spray on the waste to reduce odours and for cleaning of the bins.

Plastic picnic hamper containers have been replaced with biodegradable cutlery and containers, made from bagasse (a fibrous pulp left over after the juice has been extracted from sugar cane or sorghum stalks), with explanatory signage indicating that the utensils be returned to the Hotel to be sent for composting.

Packaging returned in the kitchen

• Tydstroom chicken supplier takes back their boxes.

• Milk suppliers, as well as all fruit and vegetable suppliers, take back their crates.

• All ice cream containers are reused in the kitchen.

• All egg boxes are sent for recycling.

Uncorked initiative

Wine bottle corks have been removed from the waste stream and are now being collected in collaboration with Amorim Cork. An initiative was launched where, for every 10,000 corks collected, Amorim would supply 10m2 of free cork flooring. To date, 1,136,000 corks have been collected and 30m2 of cork flooring has been laid at the Anthea Peters Home and 125 m2 at Wood Side Centre.

Bread tags

To raise awareness regarding recycling, the Hotel collects bread tags that are sent for recycling to raise funds for the Wheelchair Foundation. The tags are all collected from staff as the Hotel bakes its own bread on-site. This has also lead the Hotel to investigate the recycling of security tags, as they are made from the same material, to confirm if these could be added to the bread tags; adding 2 kg to the volume per month. 50 kg of bread tags have already been collected.

All departments are challenged to collect bread tags to help people in need of wheelchairs. Glass jars are given to each department for collection. Each competition runs for 30 days. The tags are then weighed and the winner is announced during a staff meeting. This is done to improve awareness of recycling amongst the hotel staff and to help people in need to obtain wheelchairs.

Puro fair-trade bags

The Puro Fair-trade coffee foil containers, that were previously going to landfill, are being collected, upcycled, and sent back to the Puro coffee company. They have engaged the local community to make shopping bags out of these to generate an income.

Pilot program: oyster mushrooms
The Vineyard Hotel has launched a new pilot programme from January 2014 where gourmet mushrooms are grown on the Hotel’s coffee grounds. 15kg of perfect Pink Oysters were harvested and delivered back to the Hotel in January 2014. Urban farming specialists, Artisan Mushrooms, approached the Hotel with their ‘no waste’ idea for growing mushrooms. They are now considering project extensions to allow for a greater selection and seasonal varieties. After patrons have enjoyed their coffee at the hotel, the grounds are collected and delivered to an off-site production unit. Depending on the types involved, mushrooms are grown, harvested and delivered back to the Hotel’s restaurant within six weeks. The Hotel’s restaurant, The Square, Conference Centre and canteen generate 150 kg’s worth of coffee grounds in an average month. A high premium is placed on eco-friendly and long-term sustainability practices across all operational areas of the Hotel. The coffee grounds are now a resource that can be further reused before being finally composted.

Waste reduction linked to rooms

Towels are only laundered for long-staying guests when they throw them in the bath or leave them on the floor. Linen is also only changed for long staying guests when they leave the “please change my linen” card on the pillow. This has reduced the water and chemical consumption of the Hotel.

Energy saving bulbs have been installed in rooms, public areas and the Conference Centre where possible. The average dichroic down lighter or incandescent bulb lasts for 3 months, where the energy saving CFL bulb lasts for 5,000 hours thus saving on energy, waste to landfill and labour to change the bulbs. In excess of 5000 LED bulbs have now also been installed to replace the incandescent bulbs. These have an even longer 25,000 hour plus life span, even further saving on waste and energy.

Dual Flush toilet cisterns reduce the volume of water effluent going to waste and washable fabric hand towels are provided in public area restrooms; eliminating the need to use paper towels.

Noah project

Used soap is donated to the Independent Fund-Raising Professional called the Noah Project, an environmental and socially sound initiative, which started in Khayelitsha in 2010. This is a job-creation project where used soap is cleaned and broken up into new soap using glycerine to bind it. The members divert soap from landfill sites and recycle the ingredients of high quality soap creating a beautiful and eco-friendly bar of soap. The Hotel has also bought back soap from the project to use as gifting for guests. This innovative initiative for older persons in Khayelitsha has allowed the Noah participants to earn an extra R230 per month.


Twin bins were installed in the Hotel’s offices, thus ensuring that the wet waste stays separate from the dry waste. The LaserFische system was installed in the Hotel’s Front Office; reducing paper usage by 21% and reducing waste generation. Used paper is used for internal printing and memos, thus getting maximum use out of this resource before it goes for recycling. E-waste, in the form of old printers, monitors, keyboards, etc, are removed by Waste Plan. The company dismantles the equipment and what they can’t re-use is disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. Used printer cartridges are returned and the Hotel gets a refund on them.


Old linen and towels are donated to staff and charities. Bleach was replaced by oxygenated bleach, which is less harmful to people and the environment. The Hotel has also upgraded the laundry machinery and new washing machines use the water from the last rinse for the next first wash cycles. This saves water and reduces the volume going to waste.


A small percentage of the garden waste that the Hotel generates on-site is turned into compost on site. The heavy-duty green waste is collected by a reputable waste contractor, U-Save Waste, and delivered to the closest municipal transfer site, where it is turned into mulch and compost. The Hotel, in turn, buys back the organic compost from Reliance, who manage the transfer sites, thus closing the loop.

Only organically certified compost and fertilizers are used so there is no leaching of chemicals into the groundwater or the Liesbeek River, which runs through the Vineyard Hotel’s property. Zero to Landfill Organics removes the soft garden waste; 100 refuse bags per week. This is mixed with food waste, on their site, to generate compost.

Community initiative

Recycling facilities on the Hotel’s grounds are available to the local community to receive their recyclables, as there is no drop-off site close by. The facility also accepts batteries and CFL bulbs, which need to be sent for safe disposal as hazardous waste. Currently, 23 community members regularly deposit their recycling at the Hotel.


It is the intention of the Vineyard Hotel to constantly improve on its green procurement and waste policy to a point where everything is biodegradable, or has a recycled content, and where a very small volume of waste goes to landfill.

Source: The Vision Zero Waste Handbook Volume 4


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Globalising sustainable development

Eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 will not be achieved by rich countries giving money to poor countries , but will require financing, trade and partnerships from public and private sectors in all countries, say experts from the World Resources Institute.

The question of how the world can end extreme poverty and improve human wellbeing will take on new urgency in 2015, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set of goals – the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are finalized.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report,” outlining the main elements of the post-2015 agenda, provides strong guidance regarding what sustainable development should look like and what world leaders must do over the next 15 years to achieve it. After two years of crafting the “what” of sustainable development, the year ahead must focus on how to get it done.

The central ambition is bold: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. To make that happen, the SDGs will need to shift away from the twentieth-century model of development, in which rich countries gave money to poor countries, mostly to feed the hungry and improve health and education. The MDGs were remarkably successful in several of these areas. But the picture has changed significantly since then. A new set of emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa – is racing to modernize. The private sector is assuming a greater role in economic development. And environmental degradation is threatening the gains of recent decades.

The SDGs will have to transcend the idea of a planet divided starkly between those who give aid and those who receive it. The new goals must account for a world undergoing rapid globalization, in which all countries have assets as well as needs. Today’s challenges go beyond health, food, and education. The SDGs will have to integrate these concerns with the demands of the growing global middle class, the effects of shifting political and economic power, and the challenges of environmental sustainability, including climate change.

Three ingredients will be essential to achieving the goals: financing mechanisms, trade, and partnerships. Forty years after rich countries promised to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to aid, their commitments remain at less than half that level. Though most emerging economies no longer rely on aid, it remains crucially important for low-income countries. That said, even if aid targets were met, the shift to sustainable development will cost much more than what aid alone can cover. We need to look for new sources of funds, ensure that government spending is aligned with the sustainable-development agenda, and target those areas where the money can do the most good.

In much of the developing world, investing in sustainable development is complicated by the fact that tax revenues are too low to pay for what is needed. This is not always a matter of raising tax rates; it is also often a matter of collecting what people and companies owe. Closing loopholes and cracking down on evasion are two ways to ensure that taxes are collected. The OECD estimates that a dollar of aid spent on improving tax collection yields an average of $350 in revenue. A shared commitment that builds on initiatives by the G-8 would make tax evasion that relies on tax havens or money laundering harder to hide.

Governments cannot deliver a sustainable future alone. The private sector also has an important role to play in energy, agriculture, and urban development, including transport and water systems that can drive innovation and economic opportunity. While levels of private finance dwarf international public finance, directing these private funds to programs that reach the poorest and protect the environment requires the right policy incentives, such as a price on carbon, regulatory certainty, and the wise use of public money.

Trade boosts domestic production and generates revenue that can help pay for development. There have been important gains in market access in the past 15 years: 80% of developing countries’ exports to developed countries are now tariff-free, while average tariffs are down overall.

But non-tariff barriers can cost exporting countries more than tariffs do. What is needed is an international partnership that helps low-income countries integrate into the globalized marketplace while improving environmental and labor standards. The SDGs can create political momentum for these efforts, which could then be framed by the World Trade Organization in December 2015.

Making development sustainable will also require accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology between now and 2030. A global partnership could spur investment in research and development and ease the flow of information among scientists, business people, and policymakers.

Such new and creative partnerships can make progress on complex problems that governments, civil society, or the private sector cannot or will not solve alone. For example, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization), a partnership comprising international organizations, philanthropies, governments, companies, and research organizations, has immunized 440 million children since 2000 and helped avert more than six million deaths. We must improve and expand these types of partnerships to other challenges, such as infrastructure, agriculture, and energy.

Between now and September 2015, when heads of state will gather for the UN General Assembly, we have a historic chance to set the world on a more sustainable path that will eradicate poverty and enhance prosperity for all. Ambitious goals provide a firm foundation for a brighter future. Over the coming months, however, leaders must work together to set the world on the right course to realize this vision.

Source: Eco-Business

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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
Image courtesy of

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
Image courtesy of

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
Image courtesy of

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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