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Jeppe Park Primary becomes living laboratory for green schools

Earlier this year, the first Streetlight School opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The project has been registered for a four-star Green Star SA Interiors rating with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) by sustainability specialists, Solid Green Consulting.
Streetlight Schools is a low-cost primary school model that focuses on enquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance and the use of technology to teach and learn. The approach aims to empower learners to master core skills and develop curiosity through collaborative learning, technology-enabled classes, project-based learning and instruction.
The site for the school, Jeppe Park Primary, is in the heart of Johannesburg’s inner city, within walking distance of Jeppe Station and directly opposite Jeppe Park. The school forms part of a mixed use, but primarily residential, development in an existing multi-storey building owned by Bjala, a social enterprise that applies innovative solutions and unique approaches to urbanisation challenges.

Bold and innovative

Started in October 2013 as an after-school programme, it has evolved over two years into a fully-fledged school for 45 children, with plans to eventually accommodate 200 learners. Melanie Smuts, CEO and founder of Streetlight Schools, says, “I started Streetlight Schools to demonstrate that we have all the resources available to create a high-quality, innovative education system in some of our most under-served communities. And we can do so by being bold and innovative about how we think about what we need in education, from curriculum to facilities.

“The pursuit of green building certification was born out of the fact that we were already incorporating many principles of sustainability in the school’s interior fit out; and it allowed us to include many more initiatives into the design, particularly around improving the indoor environmental quality to create a better learning environment. Most importantly, the school will be a living laboratory that allows learners to be introduced to environmental concepts at an early stage in their lives.”

Design philosophy

The location of the school at ground floor level, adjacent to an open-air courtyard, provides both passive and active surveillance for a safer learning environment in one of the city’s most underprivileged neighbourhoods. The goal was to develop an interactive learning environment by creating spaces that would enhance the Streetlight school curriculum, with an adaptive low cost built form merged with the requirements of a high technology learning model. The result is a multi-functional learning centre that implements green construction practices as far as possible.

Fieldworks Design Group has been working closely with Streetlight Schools from the start, from designing the spatial master plan and detailed elements, to physically building the first computer lab, to handling the graphic design and signage manufacturing. Albert Smuts, project architect, says, “Being involved from an early stage was key to creating a space radical enough to host a learning model as progressive as this one; and it enabled us to deliver a product that was both cost effective and architecturally interesting.

“One of our design philosophies is ‘low material, high technology solutions’, meaning that the energy spent on a project should always be focused on finding innovative ways of using readily available, environmentally friendly or recycled materials in a way that minimises wastage.”

Collaboration and contribution

To date, the entire spend on the 1,200m2 project stands at about R1,5m. This has largely been made possible through donations of funds and materials; and the pro-active collaboration of consultants in providing pro bono professional services.

Solid Green Consulting became active in the early stages of the project by contributing their expertise to have the school Green Star SA rated; leveraging their network of suppliers for donations of materials; and by donating financially. Warren Gray, partner at Solid Green, says that the intention is for the company to continue its involvement in the initiative as the model is replicated and rolled out.

“Jeppe Park Primary is the first school in South Africa to apply for a Green Star SA rating,” he says. “Because of this vision, the innovative educational model, and the fact that the school will be a living laboratory for green education and construction in the same space, people have been very willing to donate materials and professional expertise.”

Material donations include reclaimed carpet flooring that was originally made from old fishnets; low-VOC paint; reclaimed tiles; and reclaimed insulation material (produced from recycled plastic fibre) for thermal and acoustic application throughout the build.

Sustainability in practice

Several innovative measures, employed because of the extremely low budget, contributed towards the Green Star SA rating, and significant cost savings were achieved by ensuring that the design was inherently materials-efficient. This included using dry-wall offcuts, recycled wooden pallets and reclaimed wooden flooring in the library construction; bricks and rubble from the demolition of existing internal structures to build a new entrance ramp and stairs; re-using broken and half bricks as paving; and using reclaimed corrugated sheeting as ceilings in the bathroom stalls. All new OSB boards in the atrium construction were placed to minimise offcut waste to almost 0%, and all timber support beams fit at standard length to reduce wastage to almost 0%.

As the school is located in Jeppe, which is an area with much recycling activity, most of the materials could be sourced locally within 200m of the site. In addition, one third of the total construction team that contributed to the build lives and works within the surrounding area.

Sustainability services provided by Solid Green relate primarily to indoor environmental quality, including lighting comfort (daylighting enhanced by efficient artificial lighting design), thermal comfort and acoustics. The team also compiled an environmental management plan (EMP) and waste management plan (WMP) for the construction phase confirming the reuse or recycling of 70% of construction and demolition waste.

Energy and water reduction

Energy reductions have been achieved by using low energy use fittings and Energy Star equipment, together with the metering of all major energy sources; and water reduction has been realised with low flow fittings and the metering of all major water fittings.

Nature forms a holistic part of the everyday life at the school. As well as indoor planting and a courtyard with recycled palette planters, the school has started growing vegetables to supplement the children’s lunches.

In addition to the future roll out of more Streetlight Schools, the vision for this particular site is that the Africa School of Excellence Senior School will move in next to the primary school in 2017, and that it will follow the same model of green construction practices.

“It’s been fantastic to work with the Streetlight staff, professional team and donors on this project – people who are dedicated to making a real difference through their commitment to quality education for all,” Gray concludes. “It’s also been a tremendous learning experience in terms of getting things done with few resources on the tightest of budgets. We’re looking forward to being involved with the vision and roll out of future Streetlight Schools in South Africa.”

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World’s first solar-powered hydrogen development takes homes 100% off-grid

An innovative off-grid housing development in Chiang Mai, Thailand has set a new milestone in the journey towards greener and more sustainable living. Developed by CNX Construction and owned by Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, the Phi Suea House is powered entirely by a solar-hydrogen system — a world’s first for energy storage of its size. The solar-powered hydrogen storage system provides 24-hour, year-round access to clean energy, even during periods of bad weather.

The 100% self-sustaining Phi Suea House development comprises a variety of buildings, from a workshop to guesthouses, but only five of the buildings and two water features—a large fishpond waterfall and a 400-square-meter swimming pool with a well pump—require electricity. Each structure is topped with solar panels and comes with its own inverters. All the electricity is fed into a central energy storage system that collects and then distributes the electricity based on demand. The project includes 86kW of photovoltaics that provide an average daily power production of 326.8kWh, an amount that surpasses the Phi Suea House’s monthly 6,000kWh energy demand.

Excess solar energy produced during the day is used to power anion exchange membrane electrolysers that split water into its constituent elements. While oxygen is released into the air, the hydrogen gas is stored in tanks. At night, fuel cells convert hydrogen back into electricity. The round-trip efficiency is near 50%. Hydrogen energy storage boasts several advantages over typical batteries including larger storage, zero unwanted byproducts, and a long storage life. However, the Phi Suea House project is also equipped with two 2,000-Ah, 48V lead-acid battery banks as a buffer and backup, though they are usually not discharged more than 10% in a single cycle.

Smart energy-efficient design helps reduce the Phi Suea House’s energy demands as well. Aerate concrete walls, double-glazed windows, natural ventilation, green walls, smart ceiling fans, and sun path analysis reduce the homes’ dependence on air conditioning, however, there are VRF air conditioning units installed as backups. Solar hot water systems heat the water without need for electricity. Rainwater is collected and treated onsite for reuse as irrigation. A KNX Automation system also helps boost energy savings; energy performance data will be collected and used for research at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore.

“Everyone should do something to live in a better world,” says Sebastian-Justus Schmidt. “Our family is now doing our part – leaving the world a greener place while gaining and sharing knowledge. This is without a doubt worth all efforts. We aim to have the lowest ecological footprint possible – especially as a foreigner in another country.”

Source: inhabitat


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Modern design and prime location

THE desire to buy a dream house in a secure estate and in a prime location is driving property sales through the roof. More and more people are opting for the choice of living in an estate, security complex or a more lock-up-and-go type of lifestyle in areas that are situated in a prime location. Elbert Height is just such a complex.

There is literally just one left to buy at the starting price of R930 000, which consists of two bedrooms and two bathrooms with double carports or the option to change them to garages at additional cost.

The other units are free-standing double-storey houses which have three bedrooms with three bathrooms with double wooden garage, remote-controlled doors. Only the latest trend in tiles, paint colours, cupboards and granite tops have been chosen.

We are also very innovative at Elbert Height and chose to install prepaid electrical and water meter reading systems for your convenience, as well as the latest in geyser technology which is the heat pump system. We opted to go green, and as we all know, “going green” is increasingly preferred and recommended, not only from an energy and cost-saving perspective, but also adding to the resale value and long-term investment return.

Another aspect that makes Elbert Height a sought after complex, is the fact that it is situated in a rapidly-growing part of Bloemfontein, which is in the north, where you will find numerous new developments in areas like Wild Olive, Lillyvale and Hillside.

It is no secret that the northern part of Bloemfontein is becoming the most futuri-stic and prime area in property development. Along with it the area also consists of new business and shopping centres of the highest quality.

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An additional characteristic is the fact that Elbert Height is situated in an area which includes major shopping malls, like Northridge Mall, Preller Square and Baysvillage.

Here you will find exciting shops and places of interest, like a gym, good restaurants, like Caramelo’s, Beef and Reef, Cape Town Fish Market, a Woollies Food at Preller Square and several take-away shops like, Steers, Fish and Chips and Debonair’s Pizza.

If you are a young or concerned parent who wants to live near excellent pre-primary, primary and high schools, we have good news for you, there are several situated in the area.

What makes Hillside an attractive location as well, is the fact that you have a choice of several day-care centres as well, and if you are concerned about your family’s health, let us give you peace of mind because some of the best doctors and dentists have examination rooms in the area and the nearest hospital which is the well-known Mediclinic is also only about a ten minutes’ drive from Elbert Height.

The numbers do not lie and the fact that there is only one unit left of the A types confirms the fact that Elbert Height is a sought after complex situated in a prime location.

We have had a very positive response from buyers for our bigger units as well, and we at Lenova Construction and Development are confident and happy to say that we sell our units well within market value and negotiations for future sales are well underway. Many buyers have realised that this may be their last opportunity to own a property in the northern part of Bloemfontein.

The modern architectural design is another factor that attracts purchasers from their early 20’s to late 50’s to Elbert Height. They are focused on quality and value and are buying their homes to stay and not just another house to live in.

The home owners and people who are interested in buying at Elbert Height are of top quality with high levels of income and education – resulting in exceptionally quick sales. Besides the fact that the design is futuristic, another aspect that makes it an attractive place to live in is the outstanding and latest security control system.

Elbert Height units are modern, contemporary, green orientated and situated in one of Bloemfontein’s most sought after areas which is increasing in property value and located in a naturally beautiful area surrounded by top of the range shopping malls, medical and financial institutions, garages, family entertainment facilities like cinemas and restaurants, well-controlled security, as well as a nearby branch of the SAPS and the Post Office.

Taking all the above information into consideration, Elbert Height definitely is a modern-designed security complex situated in a prime location.

We made use of only the best architects for the design of the prime properties at Elbert Height, bringing a vast amount of experience and knowledge from years of designing prestigious projects around Bloemfontein. The new homes will be modern and impressive residences with spectacular living areas and superb interiors.

Source: news24


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