Corporates asked to get their hands dirty

Habitat for Humanity calls on corporate assistance on the eve of its Nelson Mandela Day build event.

Habitat for Humanity South Africa, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, will be hosting its Nelson Mandela International Build Week from 17 to 21 July in Orange Farm, Gauteng. Together with more than 4000 volunteers, the organisation intends to build 67 homes, one for every year of Mandela’s public service.

“South Africa’s urban population is growing at a remarkable rate, while at the same time housing costs continue to increase,” says Habitat for Humanity South Africa national director Patrick Kulati. ”This prevents low-income families from entering the formal housing market.”

Habitat for Humanity South Africa builds not only homes, but communities too. Community members pinpoint the resources they need, while experts in the field focus on finding solutions. “We need the help of corporates to fund community projects from the get-go. This will allow us to strategically allocate the budget at the planning stages, providing communities with the developments they deserve,” says Kulati.

It’s for this reason that the organisation is calling on corporate teams to volunteer their time to help build the homes, and to use their financial resources to assist Habitat in building the community of Orange Farm beyond the build event. Habitat for Humanity South Africa has been involved with the Orange Farm Community since 2008. The current population is estimated to be 1 million – making it one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa. The initial four year engagement focused on building housing with volunteers, as a way to alleviate poverty. Since 2015 the strategy has evolved to include growing strong community-based leadership.

South Africa’s National Development Plan hopes to eliminate poverty by the year 2030 by promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society, among other factors. By helping build new homes, those involved become advocates in action and play a critical role in helping fellow South Africans take vital steps out of poverty. Corporates can use the Habitat for Humanity Build Week as a team-building exercise by getting their employees involved in the building programmes.

Habitat for Humanity South Africa will be celebrating its 21st birthday at the end of this year. With the assistance of dedicated and loyal volunteers over these last two decades, the organisation has been raising awareness of the right of all people to access to decent shelter and in this way positively impacting communities. “I’ve been a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity South Africa for 14 years and the feeling of making a difference in the lives of others never gets old,” says Liyanda Maseko, Habitat for Humanity SA volunteer.

Mandela Day is held annually on 18 July, Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

For more information about the Build Week or to find out how to get involved, visit

Johannesburg to restore dignity to residents through job creation – Mashaba

The City of Johannesburg cannot continue accepting its projected 1.6% economic growth rate, as it will not be able to reverse the high rates of unemployment, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday, adding that the city needed to achieve a minimum of 5% economic growth by 2021.

During his State of the City address at the Council Chambers in the city’s central business district, Mashaba pointed out that Johannesburg had 862 000 unemployed people, with an unemployment rate of over 30%.

The youth were the greatest causalities of this crisis, facing an unemployment rate of over 50%. “Too many of our residents remain without the dignity of work and [are] incapable of supporting their families,” he stated.

“I am angry that a government could justify spending money on lesser priorities while our people are subjected to the most desperate conditions in informal settlements and their dignity is being trampled on,” he said of the previous administration, noting that “shameless looting” had placed the city in dire straits.

Over 300 cases of corruption were currently being investigated, valued at around R10-billion. “This figure is utterly sickening. This level of corruption could not have taken place in a vacuum. It is without doubt that many a blind eye was turned in leadership.”

However, Mashaba highlighted that, since his inauguration in August, the city achieved an allocation of R49-million to its waste management services Pikitup for additional cleaningshifts, employing an additional 640 residents.

A further R5-million was allocated towards the completion of a shared industrial production facility in Alexandra, which will assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the informal manufacturing sector.

“We want Johannesburg to be the engine room of South Africa’s economic growth. This cannot happen at the current projected growth rate,” he reiterated.

As such, the city would continue to focus on small businessdevelopment, aiming to more than double its SME hubs to 14 by year-end, which will increase the number of SMEs supported through each hub each month to 1 250 by June 2018.

Looking ahead, Mashaba outlined his ten-point plan for the city to enable further economic growth, while erasing the challenges brought on by the city’s previous administration.


Having inherited a housing backlog, conservatively estimated at 300 000 units, and an average delivery of only 3 500 housing units a year, Mashaba noted that it would take around “a century” to resolve the backlog.

“The indignity caused by this lack of adequate housing is best seen by the 181 informal settlements which have mushroomed across the city. There has been a chronic underinvestment into our informal settlements. More than half of these informal settlements have no basic services,” said Mashaba.

Since August, the city increased its funding to the Johannesburg Social Housing Company to R219-million, dedicated to buying buildings that will be refurbished within the inner city and converted into low-cost rental stock that will house 1 164 families.

A further R2-million was allocated towards the constructionof homeless shelters.

The City of Johannesburg now plans to make its completed housing list, bearing the names of 152 000 residents, public. This will ensure that “anyone can query their position on the list, and know where they stand”. It will also improve the handover of title deeds, with the new administration having handed out 2 800 since August, with another 1 100 to be handed out this month.

Further, the city plans to complete 1 841 unfinished housingunits in the current financial year, allocating R546-million to fund the electrification of these incomplete housing units.


Although it was facing a R69-billion electricity backlog, the city had allocated R41-million to electrify five informal settlements, “where children have never studied with even the assistance of a light.”

Further, 1 000 households in Meriting and Finetowninformal settlements will be electrified during the year.

“Upon the completion of the R24.5-million project, the families of Meriting and Finetown North will be able to light and warm their homes against the coming winter, and these two communities will be less vulnerable to tragic fires.”


With the city facing a reported repair and maintenancebacklog on its road networks exceeding R5-billion, Mashaba noted that he had “declared war” on potholes and prioritised the repair of failing road surfaces.

An additional R88-million has also been allocated to the Johannesburg Roads Agency to procure materials and personnel to undertake vital repairs.

“I am pleased to announce that, following our adjustment, in the month of March alone, an impressive 17 696 potholes were repaired,” Mashaba pointed out.


Another area of improvement Mashaba would focus on was revenue collection. “Our reality is that we have to collect more revenue,” he said, adding that, during March, R3-billion was collected, against a budgeted amount of R2.6-billion, owing to an outbound collection unit, which was reconstituted after the removal of an external contractor, collecting R275-million.

The city aims to reach the R4-billion mark in monthly collections by the end of July; however, with over 48 000 open billing queries, of which 26 000 are 90 to 365 days old, it will remain challenging.

To attend to this matter with urgency, the City of Johannesburg reconstituted its Back Office Unit within the revenue department and made provisions for overtime so that they can resolve the open queries, having started working on April 3.

Source: Engineeringnews

Futuristic cities that will take Africa’s tourism industry by storm

Inspired by the need to provide sustainable living for her people, including access to sustainable energy, transport and housing; Africa is seen to take up the tech challenge by investing billions of dollars in the development of tech futuristic cities. The continent is surely making a global mark with its avant-garde innovations, from cutting edge cities to mobile money payment technologies; a move that has attracted the attention of global innovators such as Facebook’s Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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While almost every sector of the African economy is set to benefit from the innovations, the tourism industry will no doubt have a big share from the developments. Sprouting tech cities will become major tourist attractions; if not for the magnificent beauty, for proof to many that Africa is not about desolation but rather of absolute determination to overcome all odds and stand tall in the face of the world.

Visitors will also be attracted to other destinations in the continent, to experience the beautiful naturalistic existence between man and nature. For instance, during his recent tour of Africa, Zuckerberg not only visited various technology hubs in Nigeria and Kenya, but also “got to see amazing natural beauty and wildlife from around Lake Naivasha” as he posted on his Facebook page. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online hotel booking portal, lists 5 budding futuristic cities, that are set to boost the continent’s tourism industry.

1. Konza Technology City – Kenya

In its official website, Konza is described as a sustainable green city with smart technology that will attract 17,000 jobs, $400 million in annual wages and generate $1.3 billion in GRP in Phase 1. This world class technology hub is considered a major economic driver for Kenya, that will help the country attain middle-income status by 2030. Located on a 5,000 acres of land 60 kilometers South of Nairobi in Machakos, the multi-billion dollar ‘Silicon Savannah’ will be a software development hub as well as a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub, with a vibrant mix of amenities. Konza is set to complete in a span of 20 years and its ground was broken in March this year.

2 . Hope City – Ghana

H ope to mean “Home, Office, People and Environment”, Hope City was launched in March 2013 by President John Mahama and is considered Ghana’s Technopolis; and will become one of the tallest skyscrapers in Africa at 270 meter high. Located approximately 30 minutes West of Accra in Prampram, Hope City sits on about 1.5 million square meters’ area and is set to transform Ghana into West Africa’s tech hub. Once completed, Hope City will provide business, leisure and residential space for about 25,000 inhabitants and aims at creating a whooping 50,000 jobs; including in the hospitality industry.

3. Eko Atlantic City – Lagos, Nigeria

This ambitious project in Lagos Nigeria is built on the reclaimed land from Atlantic Ocean off Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island and will host approximately 250,000 residents while creating job opportunities to about 150,000 others. Eko Atlantic City which is expected to use self-sustaining green energy sources for power, aims at enhancing Nigeria’s status as a stronger tech and financial hub in Africa. It is set for completion this year.

4 . Safari City – Tanzania

This satellite city located in Mateves, Arusha, Tanzania, offers this East African country an opportunity to provide sustainable living to its citizens. As its name implies, Safari City will also give safari tourists a chance to stay in world class accommodation while touring Tanzania’s northern parks and the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro. This will go a long way in boosting the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, gaining more confidence from both local and international tourists.

5 . Centenary City – Abuja, Nigeria

Another one from Nigeria, Centenary City will boast of an inter-connected urban center with cutting edge technology characterized by various amenities including world-class hotels and resorts. While it is expected to serve as an economic and political tool to secure foreign investment for Abuja and Nigeria as a country, the technopolis will also be a major attraction for both local and foreign visitors; due to its luxurious touch of style. This will boost revenue inflow from the tourists and a ripple effect will be witnessed in the entire tourism and hospitality industry in the country.
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Source: hospitalitynet

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A Shipping Container Home With Solar Power: The Jagpod

The founder of Jaguar Containers, William Coit, has created shipping container homes with solar power systems and is currently running an Indiegogo campaign. Mr. Coit answered some questions about his shipping container homes for Cleantechnica.

How many square feet of living space does a Jagpod have?
The 20 ft. unit has 144 square feet and the 40 ft. unit has 300 square feet of living space. The 20-foot JagPods are easier to transport and maneuver, with prices starting at $30,000. The 40 ft unit offers greater value and more space, starting at $60,000. These units include solar panels.

What size will the solar power system be for a Jagpod, in watts?
2-4 panels, with each panel being 235 Watts, plus the mounting array, inverter, controller and 27 volt battery bank.

Will there be any energy storage?
Yes there will be energy storage to eliminate the unpredictability of energy off the grid.

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Is a Jagpod intended to be grid-connected or off-grid?
Both. Some of our customers will buy units that will be near a utility grid and it makes sense to connect them to it. For customers that live off the grid, we’ll use the standalone solar system.

Is your target audience in the US, abroad or both?
Initially, we are targeting customers in the US but our long-term goal is to sell units internationally. We have a global solution for third world countries that solves its housing needs. The JagPod can be built in 90 days and deployed anywhere in the world.

Does a Jagpod come with a warranty, and if so, what is it?
The JagPod carries a 10 year structural warranty. It offers great resistance to natural disasters, including resistance to winds of up to 100 mph.

Some shipping containers people buy for homes are used and need to be cleaned, sanded and painted. Do you take care of that for each one or your containers or do you sell brand new ones?
Yes, we do. We use both used and new containers for building the JagPod. Used shipping containers are certified that they are structurally sound, cleaned, sanded, and painted. Used containers are an excellent source in that we’re extending the life of the shipping container.

Can single Jagpods be easily joined to double the interior living space?
Yes, JagPods can easily be joined together to add more livable space to the home. It really depends on how much money the customer wants to spend.

Why are you launching a container home product with solar power…have you observed demand for it?
This is a fulfillment of a life-long dream of mine that started in college. Traveling to Ghana, West Africa, and seeing the need for structurally sound housing motivated me to find a solution. For the past 20 years, Europe and Asia have led the world in building container home projects. Within the last 5 years, projects in the US have taken off. Wherever an emergency disaster occurs, we would like to make JagPods available to help solve these housing problems.

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Greening Begins at Home

When structural engineer Jignesh Goyani started developing his affordable housing project, Kesar City, at Moriaya village in Sanand – the satellite town on the outskirts of Ahmedabad – three years ago, he decided to go all green. While the apartments are small – at 33 sq metres – with the cheapest costing as little as Rs 5.4 lakh, the project is equipped with the whole ‘sustainable’ shebang: lighting controls, form construction, sun-dried fly ash bricks, sewage treatment plant, optimal daylight use and solar for street and common lighting, low-flow faucets and fixtures, biogas from sewage and daily green waste, and green landscapes irrigated by porous pipes. Kesar is as kosher as any high-end green building.

Developed in collaboration with Ahmedabad-based firms Aroma Realty and Kesar Buildcon – all working in the affordable housing niche using low-cost green technologies – the first lot of 1,200 homes is now being handed over to their owners. And who are they? Popcorn sellers, tea vendors, restaurant waiters and money transfer kiosk operators, among others, most of whom earn between Rs 330 and Rs 1,000 a day. “Almost all our customers are from the unorganised market,” says Goyani.

Housing for this segment does not find it easy to get bank finance; hence the project developers had no option but to keep costs to the minimum – even for sustainable technologies. That meant doing without green building certification by the Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) rating standard, which would have ratcheted up the project cost by another Rs 25 lakh. “Anything that adds to the cost of these homes, including certification, is not for us,” says Goyani. He is certain that, had he applied, the project would have easily made the cut for IGBC’s silver certification, if not gold. “About 80 per cent of our design and technology solutions beat the parameters prescribed by any green rating standard,” he says.

Instead, Goyani is working with Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) software, a low-cost green building certification system developed for 100 emerging economies by the International Finance Corporation. Based on a mind-boggling database of local utility costs and climate in different cities, this free software suggests customised resource-efficient solutions right at the design stage to reduce operational expenses and environmental impact. In order to qualify for the EDGE certification, a building must achieve at least 20 per cent saving in energy, water and construction resources over conventional practices. Kesar City is also on the shortlist of pilot projects the National Housing Bank is assessing for technical assistance under the UK government’s Department of International Development (DFID) funding for innovative pilot projects.

Goyani’s project underscores how the once-elitist market for green buildings – those which make efficient use of energy, water and construction material – is percolating down to the very lowest. A green building movement is under way in the country. Until recently, it mostly meant designing high-end commercial and corporate office spaces, or building energy-efficient hospitals and hotels, in tier II towns at best. There were also the bespoke residences of select affluent and niche clientele.

Green Rush 

Driven by cost savings for home owners, and responding to the incentives offered by state governments, an increasing number of developers are greening their residential portfolio. Features like rainwater harvesting, outdoor window shades, energy-efficient electrical fixtures and waste treatment plants are helping economise resource consumption. Even existing home owners are opting for retrofits as a smart investment option. “It is not enough to ascertain how structurally sound a building is; it is also important to see how well it will perform,” says Aalok Deshmukh, energy efficiency expert, Schneider Electric India.

Low-cost green housing projects need to be rolled out quickly in high volumes with minimal design typologies to be feasible. Residential developers such as Tata Housing Development Co and Value Budget Housing Corporation, whose raison d’être is large-scale housing, are thus developing a green template for all their standard offerings, which can be scaled up in little time. Other developers like Lotus Green and Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL) – also known as the ZED Group for its zero-energy driven solutions – have got into realty to focus primarily on green development.

Importantly, with the real estate sector facing recessionary pressure and unsold inventories piling up in recent months, the business case for developing differentiated projects by building green is stronger than ever before. Developers have realised that green certification helps attract more customers and investors. Godrej Properties, Raheja Developers, the Hiranandani group, Ansal Properties, MARG group, SARE Homes, Emaar MGF and Gaursons India are only some of the prominent players building certified green homes in recent years.

“Over the last year or so, realtors have grown to understand the importance of sustainable development,” says Brotin Banerjee, Managing Director and CEO of Tata Housing Development Co. The company has 6.5 million square metres of housing in different stages of execution in all consumer segments, from value to luxury, all of which will be certified green. All the company’s housing projects have no less than IGBC’s gold certification. Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC) is developing over 3,000 EDGE-certified homes across Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Bhiwadi. Almost all its houses are in the affordable segment, predominantly comprising apartments priced between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 30 lakh. SARE Homes is developing six projects adding up to 5,000 homes across Amritsar, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Chennai.

“The green building movement is well entrenched and people are set to demand energy efficient buildings the same way they demand star-rated air-conditioners,” says P. Sahel, Vice Chairman, Lotus Greens. The company is developing four projects in Gurgaon and Noida over the next three years, all of which will have a Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) certification (an alternative to IGBC). BCIL, an early green builder with a presence in Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai – all of whose projects since 2003 have platinum certification – is currently building 2,000 green certified apartments and villas. Around 40 per cent of BCIL’s homes are priced under Rs 15 lakh and another 50 per cent in the Rs 30 lakh- 50 lakh segment. Only the remaining 10 per cent is priced between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 80 lakh.

All of Gaursons India’s residential projects over the last three years have been in the certified green category. The company is aiming for IGBC’s gold certification for three of its upcoming projects on Delhi’s outskirts – Gaurcity I, Gaurcity II and Gaur Yamuna City. Managing Director Manoj Gaur heads the Delhi-NCR chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI). “More than half the 200-plus members of the Delhi-NCR chapter are now developing green projects,” he says.

Green Ramp-up

India had only around 1,850 sq metres of certified commercial green floor space in 2001, which rose to 22 million sq metres by 2008. The first residential green rating standard was launched in May that year. Seven years later, India has around 325 million sq metres of registered green floor space, both pre-certified and certified, across all categories – commercial, residential, hospitals, hotels and factories. Real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report in July that projects registered with the IGBC have grown incrementally at a compound annual growth rate of over 50 per cent in the past 10 years – the highest year-on-year growth anywhere in the world. In July, the US Green Building Council ranked India third on its annual ranking of the Top 10 countries outside the US that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation – next only to Canada and China.

Deshmukh of Schneider India goes on to say, “The single largest certified green floor space outside the US would be in India.” Chandrashekar Hariharan, Chairman, BCIL, and co-author of IGBC’s residential green guidelines, agrees. “In a decade’s time, we are set to outstrip the US, currently the world’s largest green market,” he adds.

The potential is indeed enormous. Green floor space accounts for only 3-5 per cent of all construction in India so far. In developed markets like the UK, where green building began almost two decades ago, around 40 per cent of all buildings would fall in that category. “In the US, it would be around 30 per cent,” says Prashant Kapoor, IFC Green Buildings’ specialist and founder of EDGE. By 2030, green building penetration in India is expected to reach 10 per cent or around 1.5 billion sq metres.

Mandatory Compliance Awaited

Green building construction and certification is growing at a scorching pace, despite the fact that it has not yet been fully mandated by legislation. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency, an arm of the Ministry of Power, announced the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in May 2007. The Code mandates certain minimum energy performance standards for buildings and recommends many more. (For example, it prescribes that 20 per cent of all hot water requirement is to be met by solar energy.) But, it is still largely voluntary and applies only to commercial buildings, not residential ones.

The responsibility for enforcing it rests with state governments and local urban bodies, which do not have the wherewithal for implementation. “State governments also have the flexibility to modify the code to suit local or regional needs and notify it,” says Sanjay Seth, energy economist at the BEE. Once the notification for the mandatory adoption of the code is in place, the provisions have to be integrated into the municipal by-laws to enable enforcement.

Seven states and one union territory – Pondicherry – have notified the ECBC so far: Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Another 23 states and union territories are at various stages of implementing it, which will take mandatory compliance almost countrywide. “Most states are expected to come up with the statutory regulation by end-2015,” says Seth. The national implementation of ECBC is expected to transform the market through enforced demand.

But, in the meantime, some of the other states and urban development bodies have begun offering myriad incentives. Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and parts of Uttar Pradesh (the development authorities of Noida, Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway), allow an additional 5 per cent floor area ratio (FAR – a measure of the built-up area of a plot) for buildings certified green. The development authorities of Ghaziabad and Delhi have proposed the same. Kerala and Bhubaneswar city also allow some extra FAR in green buildings. West Bengal has even announced raising the FAR to 10 per cent. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are considering providing a similar carrot.

Among other incentives are fast-tracked construction permits for green buildings being offered by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Maharashtra also has an energy efficiency financing programme, providing credit guarantee for half the green project cost. Buildings using solar or wind power are allowed to be built higher than their conventional counterparts in Pune. Punjab has mandated that every roof measuring more than 465 square metres should be used for solar energy generation. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, too, are considering some stimulus for residential solar. The Department of Renewable Energy in Haryana bears 50 per cent of energy audit costs.

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in Maharashtra offers a rebate of up to 15 per cent on property tax for green buildings, and up to 50 per cent on premium for builders who get their projects GRIHA-certified. The urban local bodies of Nashik and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Noida in UP, have proposed property tax discounts based on the level of green certification achieved. Hyderabad has suggested monetary incentives for architects designing GRIHA-rated green buildings. Punjab is developing a draft adaptation of ECBC even for large residential buildings.

Buildings guzzle more than a third of the country’s energy resources at present. Savings on green buildings can be a staggering 25-30 per cent from day one. As Schneider India’s Deshmukh says, “When done right, or when incorporated at the design stage, there is no additional cost of building green.” In fact, a green building pays for itself through the savings accruing from energy efficiency, and premium developers can charge on such construction. Given that floor space will triple by 2030, the case for driving resource efficiency couldn’t be more compelling. According to one estimate, mandatory ECBC implementation across the country could lead to an annual energy saving of about 1.7 billion kWh. At the very least, this means an annual saving of Rs 600 crore in energy cost. A McKinsey India report has projected that by 2030, India could save an estimated Rs 90,000 crore ($14 billion) per year by investing in energy efficiency.

Building activity is relatively low in developed markets where most of the infrastructure is already in place. India has seen only one-third of its built space come up yet. According to global think tank Global Buildings Performance Network, the energy demand from building in India will grow by 70 per cent by 2050, for which an estimated 900 new power stations fired by fossil fuels will be required. Going green couldn’t have been a bigger and more pressing opportunity.


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