The Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) is celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June with inspiration and ideas on how to bring the outdoors inside, appreciate nature and protect the natural environment that we all share.
The theme for this year is Connecting with Nature and the GBCSA invites South Africans to take positive steps – both big and small – to bring nature into their cities, workplaces and homes.
For inspiration, consider what corporates like Alexander Forbes in Sandton and the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, and hospitality businesses like Hotel Verde in Cape Town are doing to make greener spaces a reality, or the Ngewana family undertook in their own home.
Alexander Forbes’ office building at 115 West Street in Sandton, for example, has literally brought the outdoors indoors with their beautifully landscaped garden reception area, while 58% of the office area has natural daylight levels sufficient to allow the electric lights to be turned off during daylight hours.
The developers of the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre showed considerable sensitivity to nature: care was taken to integrate the building into the landscape and landscapers went to great lengths to protect and relocate indigenous trees that were on site before construction.
Hotel Verde is living up to its claim of being the greenest hotel in Africa. With a whole host of nature-loving innovations, you can literally immerse yourself in nature just steps from Cape Town International Airport. The hotel boasts an indigenous roof garden that also acts as a thermal barrier, an organic food garden and vertical aquaponics set-up that provide all the fresh produce required by the kitchen, and a chemical-free eco pool for guests to cool down in. The developer also rehabilitated the wetlands adjacent to the hotel to the extent that it is now a green lung in the Airport Industria precinct and is host to over 100 species of indigenous and endemic vegetation, an ecotrail, outdoor gym and two beehives housing over 60 000 Cape Honey Bees.
Interestingly, all Green Star SA new buildings tools have a credit specifically designed to protect nature – the Eco-Conditional Requirement – which aims to encourage and recognise development on land that has limited ecological value, and discourage development on or adjacent to ecologically sensitive sites. This credit recognises that humans need to exist alongside, and with minimal impact to nature, so discourages damage to or infringement of vegetation of high ecological value, or indigenous natural vegetation that is in its untransformed state; threatened or protected species, including flora and fauna; and watercourses of high ecological value, which include those deemed significant under a local, provincial or national register and registered wetlands.
But GBCSA Chief Executive Officer Dorah Modise points out that it’s not only corporates and hotels that should be investing in greener spaces: everyone can make small changes towards greener buildings and healthier lifestyles, without a large outlay of capital or time.
“Think baby steps: bring more greenery inside, for instance, or make sure there is as much natural light as possible inside your building,” says Modise. “Plant as many plants as you have space for – whether that’s a pot plant on the window sill or indigenous gardens outside – or a herb or vegetable garden.”
A great example of this is how the Ngewana family transformed their backyard into a herb and vegetable garden, as part of the GBCSA MyGreenHome project. Read more about this and more at www.mygreenhome.org.za.
“Making a concerted effort to spend as much time as possible in nature is beneficial on so many levels – it’s good for physical and mental wellbeing and relationships, plus it helps to remind us to live in harmony with our fellow beings. Our natural systems are also responsible for keeping our planet in a healthy livable state, so for the sake of our children we must preserve nature, whilst at the same time enjoy spending time in nature.”
“A good way to start is to join us in celebrating World Environment Day on 5 June 2017. We will be helping create the world’s biggest nature photo album, and you can too by snapping selfies of yourselves connecting with nature and tagging @GBCSA and #WithNature and #WorldEnvironmentDay,” concludes Modise.
There is no doubt the planet is taking strain and there is an increasing awareness that we need to do whatever we can to protect it.
One way to make a difference is to have a green home.
This could be as simple as buying more energy-efficient appliances or using specific building materials that are more efficient in keeping both cool and heated air inside the structure, but can be as extensive as building from the ground up.
Sustainable buildings are designed and constructed according to high environmental standards, thereby:
* Minimising energy demand.
* Reducing water consumption; and
* Using materials with a low impact on the environment.
The aim is to create healthier and more productive environments for people to live and work in.
While the green revolution in residential property, unlike in the commercial sector, is still in its infancy, rapid strides in technology and increasing awareness of the potential cost savings and reduced environmental impact are making good sense to more and more home owners – and home buyers, says Pam Golding Properties.
Scarcer resources are certainly getting people to become more aware of greening.
“Unquestionably, there is a swelling tide of interest among consumers in energy conservation which has recently been fuelled to a large extent by the frequency and inconvenience of load shedding, combined with significantly increasing electricity costs,” says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group.
“This is coupled with growing concerns around one of our planet’s most precious natural resources – water.
“As the affordability of energy-saving features improves, in coming years we are bound to see the desirability of homes which incorporate such features increase exponentially as being ‘green’ receives a higher ranking on the scale of considerations among home buyers.
“While it’s not possible to quote actual numbers, there is no doubt that residential properties offering green or energy and water-saving features as well as emergency or back-up power solutions are at a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
“They are becoming sought after by buyers in preference to properties that don’t offer such features.
“In a trend which began making its presence felt some 12 to 18 months ago, we are seeing ‘green’ features and energy efficiency definitely adding to the saleability of a property.”
Golding says newer and brand new buildings, particularly in new residential developments such as Val de Vie Estate in the Western Cape winelands, Baronetcy Estate in Plattekloof in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, and Steyn City in Fourways, Gauteng, are frequently being equipped with a host of features incorporated into their design.
At Baronetcy Estate, going green is prioritised not only from an energy and cost-saving perspective but also in adding to the resale value and long-term investment return.
One house is already off the grid with others being built, while the estate’s security cameras and electric fencing are managed on a solar, off-grid system which is of relevance during any load-shedding.
But how achievable is it for the average house owner to “go green”?
Says Anthony Stroebel, group marketing director for Pam Golding Properties and a director of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA): “Green credentials have a positive impact on the running costs of any home, while at the same time preserving the world’s scarce resources as well as reducing the impact on the environment.
“Our vision is to reach a point in the not-too-distant future, where this becomes integral to a home’s specifications when selling, and that buyers understand the value of this versus ‘less green’ homes.”
Earlier this year the GBCSA, with its My Green Home project, worked with the Ngewana family in Pinelands in Cape Town to green their house and show what is possible. In a relatively short period, the family achieved a 53 percent saving in electricity, a 44 percent reduction in water consumption and an 81 percent reduction in waste sent to landfill. (Visit mygreen home.org.za where you will find many useful tips and tools.)
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, says going green increasingly makes economic and environmental sense. “Our My Green Home project makes the point that while greening an existing home is not an overnight experience, there are meaningful savings which can be achieved immediately. It’s not difficult to see how these savings will translate into real benefits for consumers and home owners.
“In the commercial property sector, the IPD South Africa annual green property indicators show that in 2014 green buildings outperformed less energy-efficient buildings by yielding returns on income and capital growth of 12.1 percent compared with 9.4 percent – ie green buildings yielded almost 30 percent more.”
A green home is…
One that is built or remodelled to:
* conserve energy or water;
* improve indoor air quality;
* use sustainable, recycled or used materials; and
* produce less waste in the process.
What are eco features
l solar heating,
l water saving and recycling,
l water-wise gardens with indigenous plants,
l LED lighting with time switches and sensory capabilities;
l insulation to conserve heat or for cooling,
l back-up power solutions such as inverters or generators.
What makes Silo2 a winner
Silo 2 was the first residential development to be rated under the GBCSA multi-unit residential v1 design rating tool and received a four-star Green Star SA rating for design. It is the V&A Waterfront’s first residential development in more than five years and one with sustainability at its core.
“With the international shift towards sustainability, we no longer see it as just a trend – this is the standard we align to. Sustainable building and greening practices are at the core of our business practices and past, current and future developments at the V&A Waterfront,” says David Green, the Waterfront’s CEO.
What makes Silo2 a green winner:
l The materials include low energy lighting, high performance glass that provides thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as sustainable timber sources that are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.
l Sea water is used as a cooling agent, there is a centralised solar-heated hot water system and external solar shading.
l There are water-efficient showers, toilets and energy and water-efficient kitchen appliances, energy saving devices and even a website allowing homeowners to track and manage their water and energy consumption.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Green Building Council of South Africa developed the Green Star rating system to provide an objective measurement for green buildings and to recognise and reward environmental leadership. The categories in the Green Star SA rating tools include management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions, and innovation. Points are awarded for actions that demonstrate that the project has met the overall objectives of the Green Star SA.
l Green Building Council of South Africa’s website at www.gbcsa.org.za.
l My Green Home project http://mygreenhome.org.za
A SHETLAND couple are opening their home to visitors who want to learn more about energy efficiency and living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
As part of this month’s Green Home Energy Week, Sue Hinton and Tom Jenkinson will share their experiences with anyone interested.
It is only three years ago that they started making changes towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
It all started with the first Nortenergy polytunnel (or “polycrub”), which was followed by a second one a year later.
In March last year local firm Nordri installed a 4kw solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which has provided the majority of their electricity since then –including running the freezers and fridges they keep for their homegrown food.
The couple also installed a multi-fuel stove burning mainly peat and wood, which allowed them to switch off the originally installed storage heaters.
Fifty two year old Tom, who has been working in the oil industry all his life, took the opportunity to make some dramatic changes to his life after being “pensioned off” four years ago.
His partner Sue said the philosophy behind their approach was “trying to be self-sufficient by working with nature”.
Tom said he was extremely happy with the service they had received from Nordri who “knew what they were doing” when using extra strong brackets installing the solar panel on the roof.
Since then the wind has created problems only once, when it loosened up the fittings of the panels, but the local installer was quick to fix the issue.
He said the REC Peak Energy solar system, costing £9,000, needed very little maintenance and came with a 20-year warranty.
Before installing this technology they enjoyed a visit from their local Home Energy Scotland renewable adviser Steven Coutts.
They hope to install other renewable technology in the future. Sue’s advice is clear: “We are definitely doing it if you can afford it, but first do a lot of research and get some professional advice.”
Green Home Energy Week runs from 5 to 13 September, and is organised by the Energy Saving Trust.
With two polytunnels in the garden, Sue and Tom’s house on the A970 just before heading into Brae can’t be missed.
Their doors are open between 9am and 5pm on Saturday 5th, and for the same hours a week later.
They are also available by appointment between Sunday and Friday (6 to 11 September). Please call Giovanna Bisoni on 01463 259714 for appointments.
Clean, fresh water – our planet’s life essence – needs a new management strategy to replace the current solution for wastewater treatment that often leads to foul water being pumped directly into the rivers and seas we depend so heavily upon. Water use in water-scarce South Africa is going to be ever more hotly contested, with agriculture, mining and the coal-fired energy we depend on all relying heavily on fresh water to function. The failing wastewater treatment plants and un-maintained water delivery infrastructure also contribute to thousands of litres being wasted every day. So, using clean, fresh water to flush our toilets is really an unsustainable practice we need to stop doing.
Wasting water can also cost you a small fortune (ask anyone who has had a shock bill from their municipality for a water leak they did not even know existed). What are the options available to us as consumers who want to do what we can not to add to the already overwhelming problem of water delivery? Simple – find a solution that can treat and recycle your domestic wastewater and enable you to re-use it for your garden, flushing toilets and even drinking – depending on the technology you choose. This means households with limited water access can be reassured of a constant supply of water that can be re-used and offers solutions for big housing estates and office blocks.
If we recycled just the wastewater and re-used the treated water to flush the toilets of office blocks every day, think of how many thousands of litres of fresh water would be saved. Rural communities in desperateneed of sanitation solutions can benefit from toilets that only use recycled domestic wastewater and this will have a significant reduction from the health risks associated with environmental and groundwater pollution. Some wastewater treatment options offer an element of social upliftment with their solutions and opportunities for job creation, skills transfer and training in rural communities, where wastewater plants which treat and recycle domestic wastewater are installed and serviced.
Leading the way in this full circle service delivery is Enviro Conscious Technologies – the Southern African Partner for (SBR) AQUAmax® Wastewater Treatment Systems. Benefits: Save up to 40% of natural fresh water resources Sustainable, cost-saving sanitation Reduce health risks Prevent environmental and groundwater pollution.
Source: Green Home Magazine
Over the last eight editions of this magazine you have been introduced to the concept that every day waste can be transformed into other things after their initial life cycle. Now it’s time to turn your hand and try out a few funky ways of making new items out of things we thought weren’t that useful after all. Have fun and send us your pictures of what you make. We’ll feature the most creative expressions in the next issue.
Make a scarf holder
We’re getting ready for winter in the southern hemisphere. And boy it get’s cold in Jozi! What better way to pre- pare for the cold season than organise your scarves! Let’s make a DIY scarf holder:
- Wood hanger
- Curtain rings
- Spray paint
- Gather the material together
- Take a solid wood hanger
- Use big wooden curtain hooks and tape them to the hanger
- Use your preferred colour and spray-paint the whole unit!
- Hang your scarves and voila!
You can make more than one for all your scarves. Also, remember this is quick art using normal house-hold items, so no expenses needed!
Recycled T-Shirt Scarf
- Start by laying the t-shirt on a flat surface
- Cut off the top section (just below the armpits)
- Start snipping away
This is a really cool project to try. It is cheap and a great way to recycle old t-shirts! Enjoy!
How to make a table using off-cuts
I had a vision of a puzzle and immediately knew I wanted to have that kind of effect. I used free supawood off-cuts from my wood supplier. I also bought mistints from my local paint store. Once primed and painted, I used super-strong glue to mend the pieces and clamped it together overnight. I updated my old table by giving it a lick of paint and place the new top on top! Voila! Another recycled masterpiece! Go on and try it! It is a real conversation piece!
Grabbing the recycling-for-cash opportunity with both hands has transformed Thys Wanyane’s life. He’s gone from running an informal recycling operation to owning a successful business, Wanyane Trading Enterprise in Klerksdorp. Four years ago, Thys Wanyane, now owner of Wanyane Trading Enterprise, also known as ‘Thys Recycling’, started his operation with only one employee. He spent his time cleaning up the local taverns and parks in Jouberton, Klerksdorp.
After entering the Collect-a-Can National School Competition applying to become an agent for them, he has turned his world around and is now a successful business owner. Awesome! Wanyane is grateful for the chance that was granted to him by Collect-a-Can and describes it as one that opened doors for him. “It was an opportunity to clean the environment, grow my business and generate an income”, he explains. Wanyane has big goals for the future of his recycling operation. “In the next five years, I would like to support an employment team of 60 people with my recycling operation and also reach out to more companies to encourage them to recycle their recyclable waste.”