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South Africa: Safety and Domestic Tourism Crucial to Sector’s Growth

Members of the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations have voiced concerns about the negative impact perceptions about safety have on the tourism sector’s ability to contribute to the economy, as well as the low intake for domestic tourism.

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Committee Member Mr Willem Faber sought clarity on a comment he attributed to the Minister of Tourism about South Africa being a safe tourist destination, in light of the fact that the United States has previously warned its citizen through an embassy statement that South Africa is not safe.

“This (statement) impacts on our tourism economy. This is not a safe country. A lot of international visitors ask if they will be safe when coming here,” Mr Faber said.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Ms Thokozile Xasa accompanied a high-powered delegation of SA Tourism to Parliament to present the annual performance and strategic plans for the entity.

Ms Xasa told the Committee that tourism was the fastest-growing sector. “We are looking into developing and promoting emerging tourism businesses with the intention to grow them and make sure they are sustainable,” she said.

She said R100 million has been set aside to promote domestic tourism, noting that domestic markets have been identified as cultural, township and ocean tourism.

The Committee heard that SA is still a safe destination compared to many other parts of the world.

Committee Member Mr Boingotlo Nthebe said perceptions about safety are an issue. He cited an example of a recent trip to Zambia where he had heard stories about incidents of xenophobia. “But when we got to Zambia, none of that was happening. We walked between the conference venue and the hotel, and we had lunch in a nearby mall. Safety was not an issue,” Mr Nthebe said.

He said South Africa remains a safe country to visit, despite isolated incidents. He urged SA Tourism to get South Africans excited about local tourism.

The Chairperson of SA Tourism Board, Ms Tanya Abrahamse, shared her view that safety is an issue worldwide, but it was not a good idea to say that tourists are safe when locals are not. “But the challenge is that safety is not our core business. As much as we want it, some other people will have to come and play their role. Travelling is good for the economy.”

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BHP, Rio iron ore output guidance cuts could boost prices

Some of the world’s biggest iron ore miners are slashing ambitious production targets, a move likely to restore balance to the commodity’s skewed fundamentals and fuel price gains ahead.

On Wednesday, BHP Billiton, the world’s third-largest producer,lowered its 2016 output guidance by 10 million tonnes. The news comes a day after number two producer Rio Tinto cut its 2017 forecast by 20 million tonnes and left its 2016 global shipments estimate unchanged at 350 million tonnes.

Weather-related issues were broadly at fault after a cyclone hit Western Australia’s iron ore mining belt, called the Pilbara, earlier this year. Stalled production at Samarco, a company joint-owned by BHP and Brazilian miner Vale, following a deadly dam collapse last year also weighed on BHP’s results while Rio’s performance was hampered by a delay in the deployment of its driverless train technology.

“This is quite positive for the spot price. As more major miners cut production, concerns about oversupply could finally be cooling down,” Angus Nicholson, market strategist at IG, said.

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The price of iron ore, a key steel-making ingredient, dropped nearly 40 percent in 2015 on the back of an enormous supply glut, but the mineral substance has since recovered most of those losses. Year-to-date, iron ore is more than 40 percent higher, having recently breached the psychologically important $60 level, on the back of improved demand from China, reflected by a 6.5 percent rise of iron ore imports in the first three months of the year.

Beijing is channeling its massive monetary and fiscal resources to stimulate a nation experiencing its slowest pace of economic growth in over two decades—stimulus that has yielded a noticeable recovery in property investment, industrial production and fixed asset investment. Data last week showed all three indicators logging robust gains in the first quarter of the year.

Because these sectors consume massive amounts of industrial metals such steel, the commodity market benefits.

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With the added support of lower production from major miners, iron ore should be able to stay above $60 a tonne in the near-term, Nicholson said. Prices jumped to a six-week peak of $62.85 a tonne on Tuesday, according to the Metal Bulletin’s benchmark index.

“The price rise is sustainable. We probably will not see the lows of $30-$35 for a while and if we do see a correction, it would be a correction that I’d buy into,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer of Ayers Alliance Securities.

From a global supply-and-demand perspective, lower output targets were positive for the market because it created a sense of better balance, explained Shaw and Partners’ metals and mining analyst Peter O’Connor.

BHP and Rio’s combined lowered output will prevent 30 million tons of new supply from hitting the market. While that number may seem like a tiny drop in iron ore’s estimated 1.5 billion-tonne seaborne market, it could lead to a tighter market in 2017, O’Connor explained.

Another factor supporting the commodity’s price recovery was delayed spending on new projects, Nicholson noted. Rio has yet to make a investment in its Silvergrass mine in the Pilbara, which further limits the amount of new supply.

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We spent a day with the inspirational team from Wildlands!

We had the pleasure of spending the day with Sandile and David from Wildlands.

Wildlands have a compelling mission, one that we can all agree with.  This is it: Imagine a world where the poorest of the poor could feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, house themselves – by growing and bartering trees and collecting waste, all while conserving their natural environment and heritage.

As simple it sounds, it takes incredible amount of passion and commitment to make it a reality.

We spent the day with Sandile and Michael at Cato where they are creating a food garden. This garden is the used to teach members of the community how to grow their own food in a sustainable way. Food security is a very big issue in South Africa

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These are the other programs they have:

Trees for Life – This was first piloted in northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2004 and gives jobless and marginalised individuals the chance to “grow” themselves out of poverty by propagating indigenous trees and bartering these trees for livelihood support. We call these inspirational souls – Tree-preneurs.

Greening your Future – Through this programme, the trees propagated by Tree-preneurs, are planted into restoration sites, restoring indigenous forests, riparian zones and sequestering carbon that local communities can trade as a source of annuity income. More than 1 million indigenous trees are planted into degraded areas – covering thousands of hectares, annually.

Recycling for Life – This programme allows poverty stricken and marginalised people to collect and trade recyclable waste for livelihood support. Wildlands’ network of Waste-preneurs fulfil a very important function of cleaning their communities, removing glass, plastic, cans and paper from local water sources and communal areas, and ultimately creating clean environments for local residents.

Clothes for Life – This is a new programme which was launched in April 2015. Green-preneurs (the collective term for Waste-preneurs and Tree-preneurs) , will now be able barter their trees and waste for bundles of good quality, second hand clothing, collected by schools all over Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Ubuntu Earth – This programme is founded on the principle that human well-being and environmental health are directly linked.

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Khuthaza Business – This is a Wildlands’ Small and Micro Enterprise Development project, started in 2013, anchored by Mondi, Mondi Zimele and the South African Sugar Association (SASA) has enabled over 90 capital grants in exchange for trees.

Conservation SPACE – (Species, People and the Conservation of the Environment) This programme aims to expand the conservation of natural areas through various means. This includes direct land acquisition and proclamation, working with local communities and landowners to secure and proclaim land, and through funding the work of other organisations.

And now Sustainable Food Gardens!

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China’s taste for sustainable soya could help curb deforestation

Saving the Amazon will depend partly on China’s soya importers greening their supply chains, writes Ardash Vartparonian.

Major food importers from China can play an important role in the fight against deforestation by committing to supplying the domestic market with sustainably sourced products, but persuading them to deliver will be a big challenge.

More than ten big Chinese players in the international soya trade, who together account for a quarter of the country’s record 81.69 million tonnes of soybeans imported last year, indicated support for greening their supply chains at a symposium in Beijing recently. But they haven’t yet committed to verifiable action on using supply that has been certified as “forest friendly”.

The Beijing event, co-hosted by Sanhe, HopeFull Grain and Oil Group, was organised by the China Soybean Industry Association and included representatives from civil society group Solidaridad and the US-based Paulson Institute, which promotes sustainable development in China and the US.

Liu Denggao, executive vice president of the China Soybean Industry Association, said that soya imports from Latin America’s main exporter, Brazil, would likely rise, but emphasised that the crop should be sustainably sourced.

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“We do not want our demand for soya to lead to illegal deforestation in Brazil, and we are asking our suppliers for assurance in that respect,” he said.

Growing demand for meat from China’s new middle classes is driving the growth in South American soya imports, which are used principally to feed livestock.

Due to limited arable land, pollution and drought, China has been forced to outsource and expand soya production, prompting Chinese soya imports to shoot up 14.4 per cent year-on-year in 2015. Brazil accounts for 49 per cent of the total, with 35 per cent coming from the US and 14 per cent from Argentina.

Commercial agriculture and deforestation account for 24 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but China signalling a market demand for sustainable products would help drive behavioural change among producers and exporters, the Paulson Institute said in a press release.

In March 2015 the Paulson Institute, Solidaridad, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF launched the China-South American Sustainable Soya Trade Platform, aiming to increase the proportion of soya sourced from Brazilian farmers registered with Brazil’s Rural Environmental Registry (CAR in Portuguese), part of Brazil’s Forest Code.

However, certification remains a big problem. The Brazilian government has struggled to monitor and enforce punishments for illegal land use, as the relationship between soya production and deforestation is complex. There is little transparency in international soya markets, and so it is very difficult for Chinese importers to work out whether their soya is coming from forest friendly sources or not.

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But while there is much to do on both sides, the fact that big Chinese food importers have come together and shown a willingness to adopt more sustainable practices is a marked step forward, said Rose Niu, chief conservation officer at the Paulson Institute.

“We have a great opportunity to help China take a leadership role on greening global soya supply chains, something that is of increasing interest to the Chinese government and key importers,” Niu said.

Niu also highlighted the significance of former COFCO chairman Ning Gaoning’s declaration at the Paris climate summit in December last year that his company would ‘endorse and support’ farmers producing crops in environmentally friendly ways.

Along with COFCO, other top soya traders Jiusan Group, Hope Full Group, CP Group, Shandong Scents and Shengquan recently took part in a ‘soya industry fact-finding trip’ to Brazil to familiarise themselves with their South American suppliers.

Together, these companies accounted for 24.48 per cent of China’s total soya imports in 2015.

Besides encouraging major players from Chinese business to source legally and sustainably produced soya, consumers also have a role to play, Rose Niu said.

“This will be a long-term effort,” she told Diálogo Chino. “We need to work on raising awareness among the general public, so they understand better what they can do as consumers to help stop deforestation in Brazil and contribute to the global effort to fight climate change.”

Tumbling global commodity prices will likely sharpen companies’ focus on how they manage costs, but committing to sustainability could help them secure long-term supply chains and improve their reputations. A poor environmental record can cost companies dearly and lead to projects collapsing.

Liu underscored the importance of dialogue between producers and distributors: “China and Brazil are natural partners and have an important commercial relationship. Naturally we want closer relations and to know better the areas where the soya we import comes from.”

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Mall of Africa set to open this month

South Africa’s largest single-phase shopping centre development to date, the $340 million (R5-billion ZAR) Mall of Africa, will be fully operational in 17 days — on 28 April 2016.

At 130,000sqm, Mall of Africa will feature over 300 retailers, restaurants, entertainment and cinema complex, all within a single development.

The mall is co-owned by two South African property companies. JSE-listed real estate capital growth fund Attacq Limited holds the commercial development rights to Waterfall and owns 80% of the Mall. Atterbury Property Developments owns 20% and is responsible for the development project, on behalf of Attacq.

“The development has enhanced the diversity of the retail sector in South Africa, changed Gauteng’s skyline and stimulated the economy,” says Louis van der Watt, CEO of Atterbury.

Funded by Nedbank CIB Property Finance, the construction of Mall of Africa began nearly three-and-a-half years ago, on 28 October 2012.

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While the mall comprises some 130,000sqm of gross lettable area, James Ehlers, MD of Atterbury Property Developments, notes its construction area covers a massive 550,000sqms – or 78 rugby fields. A stroll around the building’s perimeter will take you on a walk of 1.75 kilometres.

Ehlers also reveals that over 6 kilometres of shopfront has been created inside Mall of Africa. Plus, more than 530 kilometres of post tension cable has been used in its construction, as well as 18,500 tons of rebar and 205,000 cubic metres of concrete.

During the construction phase, a substantial 3,078 people were employed for the project and, by January 2016, they had worked 10.41-million man hours.

The shopping mall will open with seven anchor tenants, and an array of international retailers that have chosen to debut their brands to South Africans at the mall, as well as an appealing line-up of flagship stores for all major South African retailers.

Anchor tenants include Checkers, Edgars, Game and Woolworths. They will be joined by leading South African brands from The Foschini Group, Mr Price and Truworths.

International brands opening their first stores in South Africa at the mall include Armani Exchange, Helly Hansen, Asics, Zara Home, The Kooples, Under Armour, Mango Man, women’secret and Amsterdam-based Soap Stories.

One of the many leisure highlights at Mall of Africa is a magnificent outdoor park with a children’s play area featuring an interactive musical water fountain.

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The retail centre is situated in Midrand’s Waterfall City, halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. It is located adjacent to the Allandale Road exit of the N1 Highway, the first free-flow intersection of its size in Africa.

The mall has around 6,500 parking bays, most of which are under cover. It also offers valet parking, special drop-off facilities for buses and dedicated Uber pick-up and drop-off points – a first in the South African retail environment. It is also minutes away from the Gautrain Midrand Station.

While Mall of Africa is set to dazzle both locals and visitors from far and wide, there is much more to this ground-breaking development than first meets the eye.

The project implemented multiple green technologies, including a massive photovoltaic installation on the roof of Mall of Africa. The installation will be the largest in South Africa and Africa and will provide 4.8MVA of sustainable power for the centre. The mall will use grey water harvesting in all public toilets and for the irrigation of the entire development. Its design means natural light is maximized in the mall in such a way that shopper comfort is also optimised.

The shopping mall combines the latest international trends, environmentally sustainable materials and technologies. It is designed around new urbanism principles of walkable, mixed-use environments to create a truly cutting-edge shopping experience.

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Source: africapropertynews


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Disturbing SA water supply report

DURBAN: South Africa will be short of reliable water supplies every year for the next 20 years – even if the country manages to build all newly planned dams on time and also curb water demand in several cities.

This is the disturbing conclusion of a comprehensive study which revises nationwide water supply calculations made in a similar study two years ago.

Part of a joint project involving the Institute for Security Studies, the Water Research Commission and the University of Denver, the study suggests that even if the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands water project and other new dams are commissioned on schedule, there will still not be reliable water supply to meet growing demand as more people move from rural areas into cities.

Titled Parched Prospects II, the study finds that South Africa appears to be overexploiting available water resources and there will continue to be a gap between water demand and reliable supply from now to the end of the modelling period in 2035.

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“Overexploitation occurs when more water is withdrawn from a water source than is sustainable… If a river has a yield of 1km3/year at a 98 percent assurance of supply this means that one cubic kilometre can be extracted from this river for 98 out of 100 years.

“If there is above average rainfall in a given year, more than 1km3 of water may be extracted without immediate consequence. But when withdrawals exceed reliable supply, the system is being overexploited and becomes more vulnerable – this is especially a problem when there is below average rainfall.”

The study notes that as of 2012, South Africa had enjoyed 16 consecutive years of above average rainfall, but this was unlikely to continue – as shown by the current critical drought.

It finds that, in a country ranked as the 30th driest in the world, water use is still considerably above the world average.

Water use in the Vaal River system was calculated at about 330 litres per person per day, well above the international average of 173 litres per person per day.

The study recognises that per capita water use statistics can be misleading, given that most water in South Africa is used for irrigating cash crops and food crops, and that several water-intensive industries receive water from the municipal supply system.

At a national level, 2 percent of total water supplies were used to cool coal-fired power plants.

“Although this figure may not seem like much at the national level, power-generation water requirements often occur in catchment areas that are moderately or severely constrained,” said main report author Steve Hedden, a researcher at the Centre for International Futures in Denver, Colorado.

Hedden said the latest study revised forecasts made in 2014 and now included a detailed analysis of more recent government-commissioned water reconciliation studies for Johannesburg/Pretoria, Durban, Richards Bay, Cape Town and other large urban areas.

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The study suggests that agriculture remains the largest water user (about 57 percent), followed by municipalities (36 percent) and industries (about 7 percent).

By 2035, municipal water use was expected to increase by almost 8 percent of current total use as more people moved from rural to urban areas.

Updated studies suggested that overall national water demand would increase to almost 19km3 per year by 2035, whereas reliable supplies would only amount to 17.8km3.

Even with construction of new dams and extra water conservation measures, there would still be a gap between demand and reliable supply every year until 2035. While costly new infrastructure projects were often necessary “there are additional ways to reconcile supply and demand”.

As a result, the authors recommend that more attention is focused on heavier exploitation of groundwater, recycling industrial and municipal waste water and reducing leaks. Currently only 54 percent of municipal waste water is treated and nearly 25 percent of waste-water treatment works are in a “critical state”.

At a national level, 36.8 percent of municipal water was not paid for, with an estimated 25 percent loss from leaking municipal pipes infrastructure.

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Source: iol


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South Africa: R5 Billion Solar Plant Opens in Northern Cape

Pretoria — The R5 billion Bokpoort concentrated solar plant (CSP) has officially been launched in Groblershoop, Northern Cape.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies welcomed the major investment by ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabian company.

“[The] project instils confidence in government’s long term infrastructure roll out, providing energy access, contributing to economic, community and sustainable development,” he said at the launch of the plant on Monday.

Minister Davies was joined at the launch by Saudi Arabian Trade and Commerce Minister, Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, who is also in South Africa for the 7th session of the South Africa-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC).

The 50 MW Bokpoort plant forms part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Program (REIPPP).

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“This project marks a key milestone in South Africa’s electricity supply security and CO2 reduction. With its record 9.3 hours thermal energy storage capacity, the Bokpoort CSP project will provide electricity to approximately 21 000 households during the day as well as night time and save approximately 230 000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation,” said Minister Davies.

Within five years, the REIPPP has attracted R194 billion of investment and is fast becoming a global model and blue print for other countries, providing policy certainty and transparency.

The Minister said the project has a major socio-economic development impact for the Northern Cape and South Africa. Over R2.4 billion was spent on local content, with 40% of the Bokpoort plant being sourced and manufactured locally. This includes the manufacturing and assembly of solar field collector steel structures and the supply of piping and cables.

During construction peak time, more than 1 200 people worked on site, while 70 permanent jobs have been created to operate and maintain the plant. The plant was constructed over 30 months.

“The operation of the plant will provide electricity to the Eskom grid to power communities and industry by ensuring a reliable source of renewable energy and increasing power supply.”

The Minister thanked the chairperson of ACWA Power, Mohamed Abunayyan, for his confidence to invest in South Africa.

ACWA Power aims to expand its Southern African portfolio to 5 000 MW by 2025. The group has identified South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana as key growth markets in the region.

“To our visitors from Saudi Arabia, South Africa is indeed open for business. Investors enjoy robust protection in South Africa, comparable to the highest international standard,” said Minister Davies.

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Sustainable Homes: The Earthship

Homes and other buildings have a direct impact on the environment due to the construction process utilized to build them, the materials used, and the design features. Traditional homes have typically had a negative impact on the environment, contributing greenhouse gases into the air with heating, cooling, and other types of energy usage. Sustainable building is gaining traction as more people seek to reduce the negative impact of their homes on the environment. Earthships are one sustainable home option, created by architect Michael Reynolds. These structures are designed for independent operation off of the grid, minimizing their negative impact on the environment. Some municipalities are developing special sustainable communities with Earthship homes for sale.

History of Earthships

Earthships have been evolving for more than 40 years with home designs that can exist in harmony with the environment. Reynolds receives credit as the mastermind behind the concept of Earthships. Reynolds’s vision has involved redefining architecture to build homes that need no energy or very little energy, both during the construction process and after. The name “Earthship” was created for these homes because they are self-sustaining structures. This means that they use renewable sources of energy such as the sun, wind, and water to power the home.

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Construction and Design

Earthships contain both recycled and natural materials, earning them the label of “carbon-zero” homes. Contractors scour landfills to find suitable building materials for constructing Earthships. Materials such as discarded tires, aluminum cans, and glass and plastic beverage bottles have been collected for use in building Earthships. Mixing old tires with compacted soil creates an exceptionally strong material suitable for outer walls and load-bearing interior walls. Aluminum cans may be the main material used to construct other interior walls. These homes even utilize discarded panels from appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators in their construction. In addition, Earthships are built to coexist with and integrate into their surrounding natural environment. These homes have a soil thermal wrap around them, which helps regulate the interior temperature of the homes. Earthships often have at least two sides that are built into the earth. The roof design of Earthships enables harvesting of rainwater to divert into the home. After filtering the rainwater, homeowners can use it for laundry or cleaning.

Generation and Use of Power and Water

Earthships are independent structures, producing the power needed for their heating, cooling, water generation, water heating, sewage, lighting, and general electricity. With the installation of special organizing modules that collect energy from the sun and wind, Earthships save this energy for use in the home. Special batteries will hold the energy until the home needs it for heating or cooling, for example. The batteries will also use the energy for other processes in the home, such as operating a washing machine, kitchen appliances, and electrical devices. After collection of rainwater in cisterns, a special water organizing module filters and pumps the water into a pressurized tank for use in the home.

Examples of Earthships

A number of different Earthship designs are in active use around the world. As research and technology continues to expand, Earthships evolve with new designs and features. Some people opt for a custom Earthship with features that are built to exact specifications. This type of Earthship is the most expensive type of home. Other models are more economical because they have standardized features. Earthships can be designed and built for virtually any geographical location, including tropical parts of the world.

How to Acquire an Earthship

Acquiring an Earthship involves learning about this type of home and then planning the location of it. Choosing the location of the Earthship is an important part of the planning process, due in part to the permit process that is typically involved. It’s possible to build an Earthship in any climate, so geographic location need not be limited based on this factor. But some locations may be less expensive for building due to varying prices in sustainable building materials. Anyone wishing to build an Earthship should research possible locations, including the terrain and geographical features, as well as permits required.

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Global Platform for Sustainable Cities launched in Singapore

SINGAPORE, March 9 (Xinhua) — Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC), funded by part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative, was launched on Wednesday when city leaders around the world met in Singapore.

The initiative by GEF is expected to mobilize up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars over the next five years for urban sustainability programs in 11 developing countries, including Brazil, Cote D’Ivoire, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam, according to a joint release by World Bank and GEF.

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Coordinated by World Bank and supported by multilateral development banks, UN organizations, think tanks and various city networks, GPSC is a knowledge sharing program that will provide access to cutting-edge tools and promote an integrated approach to sustainable urban planning and financing.

GPSC will work with a core group of 23 cities, but it will reach many more by sharing of data, experiences, ideas, and solutions to urban challenges, and by linking the knowledge to finance that will influence investment flows toward building cities’ long-term urban sustainability.

The program is designed to help mayors and other municipal leaders take more informed decisions in the day-to-day management of their cities, including improving access to clean water, energy, and transport, as well as efforts to mitigate climate change. It also supports cities in pursuing evidence-based approaches to urban planning, including geospatial data, and establishing urban sustainability indicators.

“Linking knowledge to finance is critical to directing investment flows to quality and sustainability. We see this platform as a great opportunity to connect cities not only to cutting-edge knowledge, but also to development banks and financial institutions,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice.

GPSC launch event was held during Singapore Urban Week, which lasts from Monday to Friday. The program is the foundation of “Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot”, a wider GEF sustainable cities initiative which is expected to create a strong network of cities that will act as global ambassadors for urban sustainability planning, with tangible benefits at both the local and global levels.

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South African solar-powered airport ‘is boost for sustainable infrastructure projects’

South Africa’s George Airport has become the first in the country to be partly powered by solar energy as part of plans to expand investments in renewables, the government has announced.

Environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa minister said the launch of the “first solar-powered airport on the African continent” would lead to similar projects at other airports in the country.

George Airport, which lies halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s ‘Garden Route’, aims to generate around 40% of its electricity needs from solar power during the first phase of the project, Molewa said.

According to Molewa, 750 kilowatts of electricity will be generated from the 200 square metre solar plant during the first phase of the project, which she said would be sufficient to meet the daily needs of the airport which serves more than 600,000 passengers annually.

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“Investment such as at George Airport must give momentum to other private and public sector entities to reconfigure and retrofit their existing infrastructure in support of more sustainable energy consumption patterns,” Molewa said.

Airport manager Brenda Vorster told iafrica.com: “It’s a stepping stone. At night we go on to the grid, but during the day we are on green.”

Any surplus electricity generated by the airport’s solar plant “will likely be sold” to South Africa’s national utility Eskom, according to the region’s Eden District Municipality.

Work on the solar project began last March and took six months to build at a reported cost of 16 million rand (ZAR) ($1m). The chairman of the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) Skhumbuzo Macozoma said ACSA planned to extend renewable power generation to all of its airports under its 2025-2030 blueprint towards achieving carbon neutrality in energy consumption.

Macozoma said: “Harnessing solar power is a viable cleaner energy source which contributes towards diversifying the energy mix. This plant will ensure that the airport is self-sustaining in terms of its power needs and will eventually extend to the broader community within the George municipality.”

South Africa’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan said in his 2016 budget, presented to parliament last month, that the government proposed investing a total of 870 billion rand (ZAR) ($55bn) in a public sector infrastructure programme over the next three years covering sectors including energy, transport, health and education.

Pravin said the government planned to “build on the success” of projects under its existing renewable energy investment scheme and would extend itsindependent power producer procurement programme “to include coal and gas power projects”.

Four large scale solar plants went online in South Africa in the first-half of 2014. A study published in 2015 by the South African government-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research said renewable energy from South Africa’s first wind and solar plants generated a “net financial benefit” of around $702,000 for the country in 2014.

Last June, energy minister Tina Joemat-Petterson said 13 preferred bidders had been selected under the national renewable energy programme to work on projects “tipped to supply an additional 1,084 megawatts of electricity to the national grid”.

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Source: out-law


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