Hacks to Turn Water Saving into a Habit

John Lucas, Founder of explore4knowlege and a Cape Union Mart Environmental Ambassador, spoke recently about the devastating drought sweeping the Western Cape – the worst the province has seen in decades. According to Lucas, although Capetonians are making every effort to ease the plight – with one in two being active water savers – by 2025 one in three will have access to just 25 litres of water per day.

He has attributed this to a global shift in weather patterns, an increase in the population and an ever increasing use of the dwindling resource.

Lucas shares: “We, as Africans, need to be innovative and adopt a water saving lifestyle that will be handed down from generation to generation.”

Together with Cape Union Mart, he offers the following water saving tips:

Shorter showers

Under the current Level 6B Water Restrictions, Capetonians have had to cut their water consumption to less than 50 litres per person per day. Those who have used the City of Cape Town’s online Think Water Calculatorwill see that showering can quickly use up the 50 litre allocation – a six minute shower can use up to 60 litres! Showering tips to help cut down your water consumption would be to reduce water pressure and listen to a short song as a timer to ensure that you don’t get carried away when ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

Support sustainable businesses

While the calculator can give you a rough idea of your water usage, your footprint extends to the products you purchase from stores. For instance, one takeaway cup of coffee bought at a restaurant takes 200 litres of water to make (from growing the coffee beans and sugar, to manufacturing the paper cup and sleeve). Purchasing from sustainably conscious businesses that use water efficiency strategies in their manufacturing process can assist in saving water. (Also, remember to take along your own travel mug the next time you need to get your on-the-go cup of Joe and help cut down on the number of paper cups used).

Clever cleanliness

Ever thought about how many times a day you wash your hands? According to the City’s calculator, even just washing them once can use three litres! With Capetonians being urged to preserve precious drinking water, using a hand sanitiser may be the solution. Keep Clean 200ml Hand Sanitiser (R40), made with Aloe Vera, moisturises hands whilst helping to protect against germs and bacteria. Another option for keeping hands clean is Busby Outdoor Wipes (R30). These handy anti-bacterial wet-wipes are enriched with natural extracts and formulated to cleanse. Plus, they provide soothing relief for inflamed and irritated skin.

Outdoor showers made easy

With the water restrictions taking a toll on gardens, taking outdoor showers may just be the water wise solution for keeping them alive. With the UST Solar Shower (R275), all the grey water will go directly into the garden. It is incredibly easy to use too! Fill the bag with water and place in the sun for a few hours to absorb the heat. When ready, use the built-in handle to hang it on a tree branch or pole and enjoy a warm, outdoor shower. The bag holds up to 18 litres of water (less than what’s used by a regular two-minute shower) and with the water saving nozzle, multiple showers can be enjoyed per use.

Less waste with a reusable bottle

Opting for a reusable bottle to drink from can help cut down on the number of glasses used and washed throughout the day. Using water from the bottle while brushing your teeth automatically reduces the time the tap is left running and can help to further reduce water waste.

A helping hand

While handwashing laundry and dishes are helpful when it comes to saving water, why not go the extra mile by using rain or spring water too. The UST Water Carrier (R99) is able to hold up to 10 litres of liquid and can be hung above a sink from its sturdy wooden handles. It also features an easy-to-use spout that allows for one-handed operation and conveniently rolls up for easy storage.

“We are not facing a water crisis as much as we are facing a consumer realisation that a product we have taken for granted has become non-renewable to a degree, forcing us to reconsider our utilisation of this life-giving resource that could determine the wars of our future. It is no longer a matter of conserving water for the short-term goal of avoiding ‘Day Zero’. Rather, it is a mind-set and behavioural change that must be acted upon to ensure a future for us, our children, our city, our continent and our world,” concludes Lucas.

Please note, all the above mentioned products are subject to availability.

For information visit

Additional Day Zero-defeating products from Cape Union Mart include:

Cape Union Water Purifying Tablets (R45) This is the must-have treatment for potentially harmful water sources. One tablet treats one litre.
Coghlans Collapsible Water Container 5g/20L (R299) A convenient way to transport and use water wherever you need it, this BPA-free container features a removable on/off spigot for easy filling, along with moulded handles for effortless carrying. When empty, it folds flat for easy storage.
Lifestraw Personal Straw Water Filter (R399) Worried about water quality? The Lifestraw filters water straight from the source. Originally developed as a way to provide drinkable water to disaster areas in emergency situations, the unfiltered water gets sucked through the LifeStraw and the filter inside delivers fresh, filtered drinking water.
Lifestraw Go Bottle Filter (R699) Using the same technology as the Lifestraw, this helps you to take unfiltered water with you and transform it into drinking water while on the go.
Medi-Health Claritabs (R45) A single tablet is all that’s needed to purify one litre of water.
One Drop Water Purifier 30ml (R60) or 200ml (R199) When making use of water from natural sources such as lakes and streams, One Drop Water Purifier helps to kill cholera, e-coli and other water-borne pathogens. Simply treat the water, allow it to stand for 30 minutes and then pour it through a cloth filter to remove the precipitate and ensure safe consumption.
Coghlans Solar Shower 5g/18.9L (R199) This lightweight, non-toxic PVC camp shower stores enough water for up to four showers. Despite being super compact, it has a 20 litre capacity and is easy to use with its handle for hanging.
Aqua Salveo 30ml Water Disinfectant (R99) Kill any nasties and enjoy clean, safe drinking water by treating up to 300 litres with 30ml of Aqua Salveo.

The value of eco homes

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 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

These include:

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.



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

l My Green Home project

Source: iol

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In the debate over water scarcity, it’s time to think solar

With more than 780 million people lacking access to potable water and 1.3 billion people lacking access to electricity, sustainable water and energy production is critical to our planet’s future. It is in this context that leaders from around the world are gathering at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, to address the water-energy nexus and its effect, elevating this important discussion to the global agenda.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy production accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s total water withdrawal – defined as water withdrawn from a groundwater source – which amounts to an estimated 580 billion cubic metres of fresh water per year. Thermoelectric power plants already account for over a third of fresh water withdrawal in the United States, where the volume is even more than the water used for agriculture, and in Europe.

There is no doubt that the water-energy nexus is real and of particular concern to water-scarce regions, such as the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that most energy generation technologies — including coal, nuclear and even concentrating solar power – consume tremendous amounts of water during operations, for processes such as fuel extraction, cooling and cleaning.

As our energy needs continue to grow, so will our use of water to generate it. The World Bank predicts that while global energy consumption will increase by 35 per cent by 2035, water consumption will increase by 85 per cent during the same period.

Looking at it in the context of energy demand in the Middle East, which has some of the highest per capita water and energy consumption rates in the world, the management of water resources will be critical to driving growth in the country’s generation capacity.

Water is a finite resource and its use in electricity production should be managed through diversified power generation that minimises water usage.

Sunlight, on the other hand, is an abundant resource and can help mitigate some of the effect on our water resources. Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is one of only two electricity generation technologies with comparatively negligible water consumption.

PV energy systems provide a sustainable solution to the water-energy nexus by generating clean electricity with little to no water use. Most of the water consumed at solar plants is used to ensure that workers on-site stay hydrated.

On a life cycle basis, PV also consumes less water than most other power generation sources, including hydrocarbon-based technologies and biofuels, in the production process.

With the smallest carbon footprint, lowest life cycle water use, and fastest energy payback time in the industry, thin-film PV modules provide a sustainable solution to water scarcity and energy security.

While a power portfolio that completely excludes thermal generation is an unrealistic expectation at this time, the reality is that water conservation needs to remain a priority. As world leaders and decision makers meet in Abu Dhabi this week, it will also be important for them to attempt to respond to the issue in terms that will deliver tangible results.

Source: The National 


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South Africa’s new government building is “milestone” in green leadership

The South African government’s Department of Environmental Affairs has opened a brand new head office in Pretoria that exemplifies its approach to sustainable building, including the country’s National Climate Change Response Policy.

The building, which is 6 Green Star SA Office Design rated, is designed with the aim of capping energy consumption at 115kWh/m2 per year, 20% of which comes from the solar photovoltaic panels that cover the roof. A concentrated photovoltaic panel in the car park also tracks the sun in order to provide solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.

The design also makes use of rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, and water-saving indigenous plants, in order to reduce water consumption by 30%.

In order to incentivise low energy consumption, the building also operates a “green lease” with it maintenance contractors, which monitors performance and introduces penalties if the building consumes more than planned.

For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied.

This landmark new Green Building represents a major commitment by the government to green building and sustainable development. We welcome the green leadership shown,” commented Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the government-affiliated Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA).

For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied. For a government building, this is a precedent setting move by the leadership of our country and is quite a progressive demonstration of consciousness for the green movement.”

Source: Intelligent Building Today


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The Ecological House 3.0 is a prefab bioclimatic dwelling that’s controlled by a smartphone

If you’re in the market for an energy-efficient home, one of the best places to start is with intelligent home automation. That’s one of the outstanding features of the Ecological House 3.0, a smart bioclimatic prefab home that can be controlled from a smartphone to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Designed by architecture firm NOEM, the fully plugged-in wooden dwelling was completed in just 10 weeks in Castellón, Spain.

The Ecological House 3.0, a smart bioclimatic prefab home that can be controlled from a smartphone to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

The 1,033-square-foot Ecological House 3.0 boasts a modern design with rounded edges to match its innovative, 100% digital design, manufacturing, and home automation. Thanks to the digitization process, NOEM was able to send their designs directly to the cutting machines and complete prefabrication in just eight weeks. The ecologically sensitive house was also designed with passive technologies and makes use of local renewable materials. The home’s energy consumption and production, water consumption, temperature, humidity, and other relevant data can be accessed in real time via smartphone.

From the light switches to the irrigation, the modular dwelling’s systems are all automated, programmable, and hooked up to wireless Internet. The irrigation system, for example, adapts and adjusts depending on updated soil moisture and rain forecast data, and high levels of CO2 will trigger the mechanical ventilation system. The lighting system can be programmed and scheduled, or turn on via GPS or detectors.

The Ecological House 3.0 comprises two wooden modules, the larger of which contains a light-filled living room, dining room, and kitchen space that overlooks a large south-facing porch and awning through a high-performance glass wall. The second module comprises the double bedroom, bathroom, and study. The wooden envelopes are made from solid structural panels of laminated wood and are insulated with 16mm wood fiber panels.

Source: Inhabitat