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A new chapter for NELM PROJECTS : Alice Lane, Sol Plaatje University, Rocherpan, Vredenburg Hospital, iLanga CSP 1 MATERIALS: Glass

TECHNOLOGY: Smart buildings 39 00 Cover FINAL.indd All Pages

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134 44 106 54

CONTENTS Editor’s Note




Editorial advisory board




EVENT: GBCSA convention


AWARDS PREVIEW: Africa Architecture Awards


PROJECT: National English Literary Museum




URBAN: Better Living Challenge


PROJECT UPDATE: Rocherpan phase 2


Q&A: Jean-Pierre Desvaux de Marigny


TECHNOLOGY: Smart buildings






PROJECT: Vredenburg hospital


PROJECT: Sol Plaatje University


AWARDS: Eco-logic awards


SPECIAL REPORT: Technology in agriculture


PROJECT: Alice Lane building 3


OPINION: Circular economy


ON OUR COVER National English Literary Museum Photography: Rob Duker Photography

issue 39 // // 9

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Editor’s note Green buildings are certainly turning heads and getting the accolades they deserve. At a recent property industry convention, it was the green buildings, with notable sustainability features, that scooped the majority of the accolades. These buildings are sought after in the industry and the benefits are being felt. However, the conference agenda told a different story. Under the theme of disruption, the focus leaned heavily to political risks impacting the economy and keeping abreast with technological changes. There was one brief mention of the environment and environmental risks brought about by climate change. This, in spite of devastating unseasonal fires having swept through the Garden Route, while an extreme storm in Cape Town caused damage to people and property just a week prior to the same conference. It is clear that there is still much work to be done to get the environment taken seriously and have environmental risks discussed around the boardroom table where investment decisions are made. It does not matter how many buildings you own if there is no water to flush the toilets in any of them – a scenario becoming frighteningly real as the worst drought in over a hundred years grips the Western Cape. It seems as if mother nature is holding nothing back. And neither can we. When it comes to planning, designing and building the living spaces of tomorrow, we need to think ahead and think differently. The world around us is changing more rapidly than ever before, and we cannot continue as we always have. We must adapt to thrive. This issue of earthworks profiles how the property and agriculture industries are using technology to assist them to navigate the changing landscape; how we can use materials to protect us, yet keep us connected to the environment around us; award winners that are inspiring us; and, of course, those green building and renewable energy projects that are changing the world we live in. There is a lot of good news out there, you just need to know where to find it.

Connect with us Like us on Facebook earthworksmag Follow us on Twitter @earthworksmag Find us online Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

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Contributors PETA BROM Peta has a background in housing research and sustainable development planning. She has spent the last 10 years working on sustainability in the built environment. She is a Green Star SA accredited professional and Green Star SA assessor. She is passionate about being part of change that builds a better future.

the Mail & Guardian to Scientific American. She is current President of the South African Science Journalists Association and the African Federation of Science Journalists.

FEMKE VAN ZANDVOORT Femke is a freelance writer and consultant, passionate about sustainability, green building and about communicating its benefits to the broader public. She has an MSc in communications and is a Green Star SA accredited professional.

KAREN EICKER A graduate of Wits University with a background in corporate architecture, Karen Eicker has written for South Africa’s foremost built environment publications. She was commissary general of the 25th International Union of Architects World Congress, UIA2014 Durban. She is a director of the Architect Africa News Network, a founder and director of the Architects’ Collective, and a member of the International Committee of Architectural Critics.

MANDI SMALLHORNE Mandi Smallhorne is a freelance journalist with special interests in health, climate change, food security and social justice issues. She has written for a wide range of publications, from

MARY JANE BOTHA A seasoned writer, editor and freelance marketing communications specialist, MJ contributes widely to consumer, trade and academic media platforms. As a mum of

three young adults, she cares deeply about the fragile world that they and future generations will inherit, and instills in her family an understanding that even the smallest acts of kindness and thoughtful conservation do make a difference. JORISNA BONTHUYS Jorisna is a freelance writer and award-winning journalist with wide experience in the media industry. She has a background in environmental and political reporting and also worked as a communicator for a conservation NGO. She specialises in science and environmental reporting. FRANCINI VAN STADEN Francini is an environmental and sustainability professional with postgraduate recognitions from international institutions. Her experience includes environmental impact assessment consulting and public sector environmental management and decision-making.



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© earthworks 2017. All due care will be taken with material submitted but the magazine and the publishers cannot be held responsible for loss or damage. earthworks assumes no responsibility to return unsolicited editorial, graphic, photographic or other material. All rights in letters and unsolicited material will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and material will be subject to earthworks’s unrestricted right to edit, crop, adjust and comment. earthworks is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without the written permission from the publisher, Young Africa Publishing. While reasonable precautions have been taken to ensure the accuracy of advice and information given to the reader, the editor, the publisher and the proprietor cannot accept responsibility for any damage or inconvenience that may arise therefrom. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher.

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Paul completed his BEng in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch and worked as a building services engineer in SA and the UK with a focus on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning. He studied Sustainable Energy Engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. After lecturing on building physics and comfort strategies at the School of Architecture at Universidade Austral, in Chile, Paul returned to SA and founded PJCarew Consulting in 2004. With 20 staff, it is the largest group in the country focused on this sector of the construction industry. His focus is on passive and low energy design, thermal comfort strategies, computer simulated modelling, and costing and costrecovery tools specific to green buildings. Paul has lectured at the University of Cape Town and TU Munich, publishes papers and attends local and international conferences.


As the managing executive: public sector at the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) Thulani oversees the creation and implementation of a public sector capacity building strategy by fostering strategic relationships within all three spheres of government and some State-owned enterprises. Thulani has been involved in managing the Green Star SA Certification process and pre-scoping for the development of a sustainability assessment tool for sustainable precincts. Prior to joining the GBCSA, he worked on local and international architectural projects, has been involved in developing Quality Management Systems and has worked as a sessional lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Bruce Wilson is an architect with an interest in green building design and construction. An associate architect at the Cape Town office of SVA International, Bruce gained a Master’s degree from the University of Pretoria and an Honours Degree at the Technical University of Eindhoven. He has recently completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Property Studies at the University of Cape Town. His key experience includes design of education facilities, student and social housing, and mixed-use retail or commercial projects. He is a Green Star SA AP, and a low carbon consultant with the UK Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers.


Jutta is a sustainable building consultant and entrepreneur, with a strong academic and professional background in environmental and development economics. She is the principal and founder at ecocentric, a consultancy specialising in LEED and Green Star SA certification. Among her recent projects are MTN head office’s LEED Silver rating and Hotel Verde’s LEED Platinum certification, both notable firsts on the continent. She was a member of the lead consulting team that developed the Green Star Existing Building Performance Rating tool and was contributor to the Bellagio conference report on Eco-City Indicators, Standards & Frameworks. She believes that “no building is an island” and that shifting the way buildings and spaces are designed, constructed and operated offers the best opportunity for addressing global climate issues, while driving environmental, economic and social sustainability goals.


JP is a recent graduate of the University of KwaZuluNatal and winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year competition for his Masters thesis focused on designing for biodiversity through a water research facility on the Umgeni River. Currently practicing at an architectural firm in Durban, he brings to his work a personal appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and a fascination with the functioning of the ecosystems within it.


Kevin is a sustainable business strategist and futurist who founded Global Carbon Exchange (GCX Africa) in 2006. The team at GCX Africa are systems thinkers, developing measurable milestone driven sustainable business strategies. They comprise skilled carbon, energy, water, zero waste and process engineering and sustainability specialists who design and implement sustainable business strategies and can evaluate the feasibility (financial and environmental) of all programmes, always linking outcomes to tangible and intangible business value. Kevin is a regular guest on Radio 2000’s drive-time experience since 2011 covering energy, climate change current affairs and sustainability. He is a regular keynote speaker, panel participant, debater and moderator.


Fabio founded Terramanzi Group in 2011 and has considerable experience in sustainability and environmental consulting. He is a certified environmental scientist with the Southern African Institute of Ecologists and Environmental Scientists, has chaired the Western Cape branch of the South African affiliate of the International Association for Impact Assessment, and is a founding member of the Environmental Assessment Practitioner’s Association of South Africa. He is a certified carbon footprint analyst and energy efficiency auditor and is a Green Star SA AP. Fabio serves as a faculty member and project assessor for the GBCSA and has lectured at the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch engineering faculties.


Francini is an environmental and sustainability professional with postgraduate recognitions from international institutions. Her experience includes environmental impact assessment consulting and public sector environmental management and decision-making. She is positive about industry and academia collaboration in response to environmental and sustainability complexities. She is currently a part-time Sustainability Management MBA student at the Sustainability Management School Switzerland, with an SA sustainability research focus. She represents a student viewpoint that increasingly and outrightly questions sustainability fundamentals; formulates multi-dimensional questions on society, economy and the environment; and envisions the ‘re-constructing’ of society’s relations to the economy and environment for long-term sustainability.


Use-It is the Waste Materials Recovery Industry Development Programme in Durban which Chris has headed since 2009. It is a multi-award-winning NGO that has facilitated over 2300 jobs in the waste and recycling sector in the last six years. Use-It explore, invent and create opportunities in waste beneficiation that touch on waste management, water management, infrastructure, energy, social upliftment, environmental benefit, economic development, low carbon development, enterprise development and skills development. One key project is development of the 5-Star EcoStandard rated RamBrick technology.


Jeremy is an architect, research scientist and sustainable built environment specialist. He has worked on acclaimed built environment projects for the UN, government, the private sector and communities. His research interests include sustainability, inclusion, facilities management, cities, education and community architecture, building performance, assessment systems and indicators. He has developed a range of built environment sustainability tools particularly suited for developing country contexts. He has also provided policy, legislation, urban planning, technical guidance and training work in numerous countries. He is the coordinator of Smart and Sustainable Built Environment Working Group (W116) for the Construction Industry Board.

14 // // issue 39

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GBCSA HAILS GOVERNMENT’S GREEN BUILDING EFFORTS The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has commended government’s commitment to drive the sustainability of public sector buildings in South Africa in light of the refurbishment of Batho Pele House (formerly the Agrivaal building) in Pretoria, which is the first government building to achieve a 4 Star Green Star SA Office v1 As Built rating. An independently certified green government office building, the substantial refurbishment focused on energy efficiency, internal environmental quality and occupancy comfort. The building’s central location means it provides easy access for those walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work, helping to reduce reliance on motor cars. Green features include energy-efficient lighting, low volatile organic compound finishes, low-flow water fittings, rainwater harvesting and greywater filtration, all supported by a metering and monitoring system.

issue 38 // // 17

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SOLAR POWER FOR TOWNSHIP CHILD CARE CENTRE The Abaphumeleli Home of Safety in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, received five solar-powered charging units from Project 90 by 2030 in May. The solar charging units were built by local high school students as part of an environmental awareness project. “We are excited about this culmination of our project. We have been able to teach learners the theory of being environmentally aware, and now in this practical and tangible way, they will also be able to give something back to communities who need it,” says Daniel Robinson, Project 90 by 2030’s project manager for the Playing With Solar workshops. The five units were installed on an outside building, which will serve as a bedroom area for the older children at Abaphumeleli. It means they will have power for lights and a small number of appliances. There are plans for more units to be installed at a day care centre in Westlake, and an educare centre in Hangberg, both also in the Cape Town area.

A waste-to-energy project worth a quarter of a billion rand has been given the go-ahead by Western Cape authorities. To be based at Corona Farm near Paarl, the biogas plant is being developed by Reliance Compost. According to Eddie Redelinghuys, Reliance managing director, the project will be up and running by 2018. When operational, the plant will be able to process about 20 000tonnes of waste per month. The methane gas given off by rotten organic waste is filtered and used to power generators, which in turn supply electricity to the grid. Additionally, the carbon dioxide and heat that is generated as a by-product of the process will be used in farming operations and to heat a greenhouse for growing food. Organic waste streams such as manure, food waste and agricultural waste will provide the bulk of the waste for the project. Reliance says the biogas plant will create over 1000 direct and indirect jobs.

CHINA BUILDS LARGEST FLOATING SOLAR FARM The world’s largest floating solar array, located on top of a flooded coal mining area, has been connected to the grid. Located in Huainan, China, the facility can produce 40MW at peak capacity and uses SunGrow PV inverters. The solar farm overtakes similar projects in India and Australia as the biggest floating solar plant in the world, and underlines China’s ambition to be the world leader in renewable energy production.

18 // // issue 38

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GIFA BURSARIES AWARDED In a joint venture bursary programme between the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (Gifa) and Marley Building Systems, six deserving architectural students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have been awarded bursaries to the value of R150 000. The bursary programme is a first in Gifa’s history and was a response to the “fees must fall” protests, which highlighted the need for financial assistance for underprivileged students. Gifa president Kumarsen Thamburan says the institute is committed to elevating the profession through transformation, collaboration and advocacy. The six architectural students were awarded bursaries at a hand over ceremony at Gifa in Johannesburg in May. Three students from UJ and three students from Wits were the recipients.


Beka Schréder, a multinational lighting company, in partnership with Atkins Global, has won the first of London exhibition space, The City Centre’s “A Smarter City” competition. The aim of the competition was to highlight the potential benefits of implementing smart technologies in London’s square mile. Beka Schréder’s idea, known as “Key to the City”, proposes to use an augmented reality smartphone app and smart-enabled street furniture to celebrate London’s network of more than 150 green spaces, providing on-screen information to help residents and visitors engage with their surroundings. The City Centre says the idea was rewarded for its use of technology, innovation and sustainability. Beka Schréder’s winning entry will be exhibited at The City Centre until December 2017.

ONLINE GAME ENCOURAGES ECO-FRIENDLY CITY DESIGN Online gaming platform Steam recently launched a game called Block’hood, a city simulator that allows players to build eco-friendly virtual cities. The game requires users to build structures that allow humans and other species to coexist, and manage environmental and engineering conditions. The buildings in the virtual world are reactive, meaning they are affected by the surrounding environmental conditions. The more efficient the buildings’ designs, the more resources become available to players. The app is available locally for R159.

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UCT STUDENT SCOOPS COROBRIK LANDSCAPE AWARD Stuart Kelly, a recent graduate from the University of Cape Town, won the Corobrik Most Innovative Final Year Landscape Architecture Award for his urban greening thesis. The annual award is given to a landscape architecture student with the best dissertation. External examiners assess the project concepts, searching for new ideas that spark interest rather than just the student achieving top marks. Kelly’s dissertation, entitled Grafting the Sub-Terrain: Working from the ground up in Mowbray, Cape Town, investigates how to encourage natural growth in the urban area by developing the sub-terrain, which is the area below the earth’s surface. “Grafting” in the horticulture world refers to the combining of two different plants, with a similar genetic makeup, to create a modified plant type. Kelly’s dissertation looks at grafting various soil types, as opposed to plants, to create a diverse landscape that caters for various plant types because of the different soil conditions. Kelly drew on his farming background, having grown up on a farm in Creighton, KwaZulu-Natal. “I always envisioned working with soils and growing plants, which is why I incorporated grafting into my thesis,” he explains. “I chose the Mowbray area [in Cape Town] because I am familiar with the terrain and it’s not a very green area.” The rejuvenation of this underground area could improve the soil, allowing for the growth of productive trees. In addition, redesigning the soil profiles leads to greater biodiversity, improved ground water storage and generally a more productive landscape.


© Fictional Pixel

© Fictional Pixel

The mixed-use office and retail development, Park Square, situated in Umhlanga’s new town centre north of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, is targeting a 4 Star Green Star As Built Rating, as well as a 4 Star Interiors rating for anchor tenant Nedbank. Arup has been appointed to provide its full suite of services, including sustainability consulting. The R1billion development, which will comprise 36 000m2 of lettable commercial space and 4000m2 of lettable retail space – with a gross building area of about 85 000m2 – is currently under construction and is due for completion towards the end of 2018.

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GBCSA CERTIFIES 250TH BUILDING The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) reached the milestone of 250 green building certifications in Africa in June 2017. Streetlight Schools’ Jeppe Park Primary was the 250th, achieving a 4 Star Green Star SA Interiors v1 certification. It is also the first school in Africa to achieve a Green Star rating. These 250 certifications will go a long way towards the reduction of carbon emissions, as well as water and energy savings. With a combined total of just under 3.8million square metres, these green buildings will save about 450million kilograms of CO2 per year; 380million kilowatt hours of energy per annum; and 350million litres of drinking water annually.

VINYLS INDUSTRY RECOGNISES RECYCLING INITIATIVES The Southern African Vinyls Association’s (SAVA) “Innovation in Recycling” trophy was awarded to Adcock Ingram Critical Care and Polyflor SA for their individual contributions to improving the recycling of PVC, at SAVA’s 2017 annual conference. The main criteria for this award are that the recipients have to present a recycling initiative that has not been introduced to the South African market before, but contributes greatly to an increase in the recycling of post-consumer PVC waste in the long run. To this end, Adcock Ingram and Polyflor SA were awarded for innovative work they are doing in the recycling of non-hazardous PVC products in hospitals and healthcare centres, and the recycling of vinyl flooring off-cuts respectively. Adcock Ingram’s Critical Care facility at Aeroton has a recycling project where rejected and scrap materials are ground up and sorted into different grades of plastic. The ground PVC material is used to produce footwear.

© harvardcgbc © harvardcgbc

HARVARD CREATES HOUSEZERO The Harvard Centre for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) is retrofitting its headquarters – a pre-1940s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA – into a green structure to prove that it is not only new builds that can reach sustainability targets. Dubbed HouseZero, the headquarters aim to achieve the most stringent efficiency target for a retrofit to date. Key elements include near zero energy consumption for heating and cooling, 100% natural ventilation, 100% daylight autonomy and zero carbon emissions, including materials with a low embodied energy.

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FOOD SECURITY THROUGH SMART CROPS Professor Jill Farrant, a plant molecular physiologist at the University of Cape Town (UCT) is piloting a study of smart crops in response to increasing drought across South Africa and the globe, due to climate change. Farrant and her students are studying resurrection plants, which can withstand severe drought and “return to life” within 12 to 72 hours after rain. She hopes to identify the genetic survival mechanisms in those plants and use them to induce the same process in crop plants, helping them to become more tolerant of drought. The ideal outcome would be to produce plants that are far more drought-resistant than current crops, and thus secure food sources for the future.

DURBAN’S DESALINATION-WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT A FIRST At the 2017 African Utility Week conference in Cape Town, Titus Kasie, mechanical engineer at eThekwini municipality, unveiled a desalinationwastewater plant to be built in Durban in collaboration with the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation. The demonstration plant significantly reduces energy costs by only producing 50% of its water from the ocean (a power-intensive and expensive process), with the other 50% coming from treated wastewater effluent. By mixing the water sources, power needs are nearly halved, with the added benefit of the public being less hesitant to drink the water when it isn’t considered entirely recycled. Other nations and cities have hailed the plant for its innovation.

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South Africa’s green building movement has come a long way since the establishment of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) in 2007 and the first Green Star SA rating in 2009. There are now over 250 green building certifications in Africa. In 10 years, the GBCSA has grown dramatically and is constantly evolving with the changing operational landscape. The 2017 convention exemplifies this changing environment.


his year 600 green building enthusiasts will gather in Cape Town to be informed and inspired by over 50 speakers – both local and international thought leaders. As in previous years, the convention will feature keynote, plenary and brainwave sessions, but this year the convention includes sector-specific tracks which are designed for the residential, commercial and public sectors. This will give delegates the opportunity to explore and share ideas on their relevant areas of work. Having taken on board feedback from members, the convention will this year feature a revitalised sponsored networking area, as opposed to a more standard convention exhibition. This year’s lead sponsors: Standard Bank, Growthpoint, Lafarge, Rabie and the Century City Conference Centre will WHAT? create an enthralling GBCSA CONVENTION space for delegates > DARE TO LEAD to network and make WHEN? the connections 9-11 OCTOBER 2017 that will take the industry forward. WHERE? Cross-disciplinary CENTURY CITY CONFERENCE collaboration is CENTRE, CAPE TOWN vital to promoting

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sustainable development and the emphasis on networking and relationship building at the convention is an important way of breaking down the traditional silos that professionals often operate in. The low-hanging green fruits have been plucked. Moving forward, deeper greening requires focus, inspiration, innovation, passion, integrity and confidence – all traits of great leaders, and all elements that the GBCSA aims to provide delegates with at its annual convention. Having learned a wealth of lessons in greening buildings in Africa over the past 10 years, there are significant milestones to be celebrated. And now the focus has shifted beyond just buildings. Professionals know that green buildings are only one part of a connected system, and more attention is being paid to how buildings interact with each other and the public space around them. Landscaping, technology, transport, materials and encouraging wellness are key. The convention programme reflects this. The GBCSA is encouraging delegates to make the connections and take the lead in transforming the future.

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Celebrating 10 years of transforming South Africa’s built environment

3.8million square metres of green building space in Africa certified

Over 250 Green Star SA certifications in Africa

Cumulative 450million kilograms of CO2/y emissions avoided

2017 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS LANCE HOSEY The shape of green: aesthetics, ecology and design Architect and author Hosey believes that beauty is inherent to sustainability. In his latest book The shape of green: aesthetics, ecology and design, he asserts that aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern, but rather an environmental imperative. He oversees design for the San Diego office of Harley Ellis Devereaux and chairs the firm’s nationwide design excellence programme. Hosey also currently serves on the AIA Committee on the environment advisory group and previously served on the USGBC social equity working group.

VIVIAN LOFTNESS Design for sustainability: Latest global research and thinking Loftness is a key member of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University’s leadership in sustainability research and education and contributes to the ongoing development of the “Intelligent Workplace”. This is a living lab, which tests commercial building innovations for performance, with the aim of advancing human health and productivity; environmental sustainability; organisational flexibility and technological adaptability. Her work has influenced national policy and building projects and she has been recognised as a LEED fellow, a senior fellow of the Design Futures Council and one of 13 Stars of Building Science by the Building Research Establishment in the UK.


380million kWh/y of energy saved and 350million litres of potable water saved

The importance of public space in creating equal cities Founder and president of the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in New York, Kent is an authority on revitalizing city spaces

and one of the foremost thinkers in liveability, smart growth and the future of cities. He has worked on hundreds of projects including the Rockefeller Center and Times Square in New York and most recently led some of the largest PPS projects in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront and at Crystal City in Alexandria, Egypt. He is passionate about transitioning places from inadequate to extraordinary.

PROF. MARK SWILLING City-wide urban infrastructure and metabolism Distinguished professor of Sustainable Development in the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, academic director of the Sustainability Institute and co-director of the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Swilling has always had a focus on the dynamics of urban change. In 2012 he co-authored the internationally acclaimed book titled Just Transitions: Explorations of Sustainability in an Unfair World. In 2016 he was appointed “advisor to the curator” of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and in 2017 he convened the State Capacity Research Project on the dynamics of state capture in South Africa.

JASON DREW From industrial revolution to sustainability revolution: the business of fixing our future A serial entrepreneur and business leader turned renowned environmentalist and author. Drew chairs numerous organisations including his latest waste nutrient recycling venture AgriProtein in Philippi, Cape Town. He has held leadership roles in a number of international businesses, including General Electric and healthcare company Bupa, whereafter he led the startup of Africa’s leading outsourced services provider with over 3000 staff.

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EXCELLENCE IN AFRICA Judging for the Africa Architecture Awards (AAA) takes place in August and September, with the winners announced at the end of September. Four trophy winners will be recognised and the overall winner will receive US$10 000. The Africa Architecture Awards celebrate design excellence and promote an awareness of architecture across Africa, as the profession grapples with its role in a rapidly evolving society. Based on values rather than categories, the awards honour established architects and encourage emerging and future voices. By profiling every entry online, the awards promote awareness and dialogue with a broad audience, and some truly inspiring and wildly diverse projects have emerged.

AWARD CATEGORIES There are four award categories: Built – Includes the broadest possible range of architectural interventions, ranging from modest, small-scale buildings to sizable complexes, completed in the past five years. Speculative – Seeks to promote imaginative responses to African realities and contexts that will have an impact for future generations. Speculative projects are generally unbuilt. Emerging voices – This student category seeks design projects from any student enrolled in an accredited programme anywhere in Africa. Critical dialogue – For any written, spoken or filmed work that has been published to a wider audience, either in print or digital media. People’s choice – Based on votes received on the AAA website. All entries are placed online for the public to vote on.

A GRAND UNVEILING Judging will take place on various dates in August and September by a carefully curated panel, with the process culminating in an awards ceremony at the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa) at the V&A Waterfront on 28 September 2017.

The novel construction system of the Aquiles eco-hotel in Cabo Verde, which is an entrant in the Built category.

ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS A number of the nominated projects feature green building principles. Three entries that stood out were: 1. Aquiles eco-hotel, Cabo Verde Located in the main square of a small fishing village on this island off the northwest coast of Africa, Aquiles ecohotel has a number of green features. These include using greywater from showers for flushing toilets, natural cross-ventilation removing the need for air-conditioning, furniture made from recycled wood, and plans for solar PV to be installed on the roof in future. The hotel has been submitted in the “Built” category. 2. Eco-innovation hub, Uganda An entry in the “Emerging voices” category, the hub proposes a site where creative voices can come together, work, and share ideas. It comprises four buildings, each providing a view on to a triangular outdoor space, as well as looking into each other’s workspaces to enhance the sense of community. The project commits to energy-efficiency, renewable energy, water-sensitive urban design, integrating water drainage with landscape design on-site, waste minimisation by recycling, passive

ventilation, daylight harvesting and use of local eco-friendly materials. 3. No Slum City, Morocco The “No Slum City” is part of the national slum eradication program in Morocco. It is a social housing project to improve living conditions for 233 families from the shantytown Douar Khlifa in Casablanca. The project, which has been entered into the “Speculative” category, involves the construction of 233 apartments, 32 shops, gardens and a parking area for bicycles and cars. Wooden shutters (Moucharabieh) limit the impact of the sun, and the thick double walls (40cm) with straw insulation in the middle, increase the thermal inertia of the building. The natural cross-ventilation of the double-oriented apartments refreshes the interiors and minimises the use of air conditioners.

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A NCTUARY South Africa’s National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown is a brilliantly curated casket of the nation’s fictional and factual treasures. It was the first building to attain a 5 Star Green Star SA Design rating under the Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) new Public and Education Building rating tool in 2013, and has now received its 5 Star As-Built rating after completion in early 2016. WO R D S M A R Y JA N E B OTH A I M AGES ROB DUKE R PHOTOGRAPHY

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here is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.” This evocative first line of Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country is one of three quotations from cherished South African novels embedded in the brickwork outside the National English Literary Museum (Nelm). Each ends with the sharp point of a giant vertical pencil installation that leads the eye upward towards the welcoming new building. This is the realm of literature and legends. What could so easily have been dull and dreary to most, is presented at Nelm as fascinating, fresh and fun for all – from rowdy scholars to sombre researchers and ordinary bookworms. It’s a new experience for Nelm’s delighted team. Holed up in impossibly cramped quarters for decades, they are now thrilled to be able to display and share their vast and continually accumulating treasure. Museum director Beverley Thomas says that although the building was completed in April 2016, it took a year to manage their extraordinary relocation tasks (like the off-site fumigation of curated material) and complete their three-year preparations for the exhibitions before Nelm officially opened to the public on International Museum Day, 18 May 2017.

The result is a bold and diverse delight, presenting informative displays of national literature as it engages with South Africa’s contested development, from the time of the San through to the present. Nelm’s facilities include exhibition venues, archives, libraries, a fully equipped theatre, an auditorium, offices, flexible conference and classroom facilities, public amphitheatres and leisure walkways. Chief financial officer Charl Malan says the building currently houses a staff of 25 but is able to accommodate up to 50. The new facilities allow for exciting plans to encompass all of South Africa’s literary languages – starting with isiXhosa in the next funding cycle. Gargantuan letters spell out the word “literature” and the wind blows through the spine of the undulating main exhibition hall, which provides reflection zones equipped with MP3 sound installations for listening to poems, stories, novels, and music. Intriguing objects are also on display, including the typewriters of JM Coetzee and Herman Charles Bosman, which according to Crystal Warren, manager of Nelm’s curatorial division, the latter swore was charmed “so he would know if anyone else had touched it”. Warren is equally enthusiastic about the children’s area, surrounded by amphitheatre-style benches and featuring cut-out “trees” on which children can hang


Location • Grahamstown Design commencement date • August 2011 Construction commencement date • January 2014 Completion date • April 2016 As Built rating achieved • May 2017 Construction value • R130million Site area • 14 800m2 Archive storage space • 1400m2 Public space • 1700m2 Total building area • 5004m2 Local job opportunities created • 205

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The sweeping freeform curves of the building, which stands on a hillside in Grahamstown, balance linear forms in the architecture which also resonate in the landscaping and walkways.

their own literary works for other museum visitors to read at their pleasure. While the vibrant permanent exhibition area on the ground floor attracts a wide audience, Tom Jeffery, Nelm curator of exhibitions, describes the second transitory exhibition area on the mezzanine level as appealing to a more informed audience. The current display features mail written in protest against censorship during the apartheid era.

GREEN ACHIEVEMENTS The museum is already attracting large numbers of visitors. Its directive to become a place of public enjoyment as well as cultural sanctity is a resounding success. But it’s the directive and ultimate delivery of an environmentally responsible and resourceefficient building worthy of a 5 Star Green Star SA rating that deserves a standing ovation. Situated on a hillside in Worcester Street, on the edge of a residential suburb, the development is an

aesthetically pleasing landmark that has improved, rather than spoiled, the previously vacant greenfield site. Nelm’s 5 Star Green Star SA ratings showcase the building as an example of South African excellence in sustainable construction and development. Green building principles were top of mind from the outset. The building was chosen as a pilot for the GBCSA Public and Educational Buildings rating tool – so the limited precedent meant that much research was done in the planning and conceptual stages. East London-based Intsika Architects were appointed to design and supervise construction and quality control of the project. Architect Rob Gillard is very pleased with Nelm’s 5 Star outcome and says it will set the benchmark for future projects. Gillard says: “This was an extremely technical project with a zero-tolerance approach. The project was programmed for 24 months of construction and practical completion was achieved on time, despite minor inclement weather delays. We commend the

Public spaces in the museum are open and inviting, with ample daylight.

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contractor, WBHO, on their ability to communicate, ensure that adequate resources were assigned at critical stages, and be a team player in the process.”

ENERGY EFFICIENCY In designing for limited environmental impact, Gillard and his team chose the critical document storage area as their starting point, which is referred to by some staff as “Aladdin’s Cave” or “The Bunkers”. “The primary criteria for document storage are to avoid indoor temperature fluctuations and to ensure a low relative humidity content in the air. We opted to excavate the hill site and construct the main archive storage facilities below ground, where geothermal studies have shown there to be low temperature fluctuations,” he explains. More than 20 000 precious heritage assets, ranging from crumbling published works to modern archival documents, artworks and journals, are preserved within the eight-fingerprint-accessed archive rooms. This is indeed a treasure chest of the nation’s literary gems, all the more precious as the world becomes increasingly digital. “The building is specifically orientated on an east-west axis, with large stone gabions on the north and west facades that act as a heat sink, keeping indoor temperatures cooler by day and releasing

some of the embodied heat back into the structure by night.” Given that the air is pre-conditioned by the building, the HVAC does not need to operate at full capacity. It simply controls the indoor temperature within very fine tolerances. This reduces mechanical heating and cooling costs. A valuable passive design feature is the large roof garden, which faces the adjacent residential properties, enhancing the building’s picturesque setting. Solar panels for water heating are not part of Nelm’s operations and, in explanation, Gillard alludes to the current debate among mechanical engineers about the benefits of solar heating as opposed to heat pumps. “We are of the opinion that heat pumps offer comparable energy savings and are neater, less intrusive elements to integrate into the building. We would have liked to use energy from the recently established local wind farm, but unfortunately its full capacity was destined for the municipal energy grid.”


• Use of recycled rubber and bamboo flooring, low VOC paints, coconut mosaic wall cladding, recycled plastic carpeting, low formaldehyde FSC certified-timber • Indoor and outdoor recycling stations with a recycling storage facility on-site • Rainwater harvesting to underground storage tanks to supplement the municipal supply • Xeriscaped garden • Roof garden over the archives insulates and assists with temperature control • Stone gabion walls on north and west create thermal mass • Self-charging motion sensor taps • Waterless urinals • Occupancy lighting sensors • Building management system • Public area display screen shares efficiency information

The below-ground critical document storage area is referred to by staff as “Aladdin’s Cave” or “The Bunkers”. Avoiding temperature fluctuations and ensuring low humidity are vital here.

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Final material will not be supplied for print/publication until such time as approval is received. Please return fax to: 086 509 4850




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The boardroom has uninterrupted external views and natural light and the walls feature cocomosaic tiles, which have acoustic properties.

Additional energy strategies were targeted to reduce the building’s overall energy consumption, such as occupancy lighting sensors and a building management system (BMS) that monitors consumption and optimises the effectiveness of service systems. All light fittings are low-voltage and energy-saving.

ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN The environmental wellbeing of occupants is enhanced through uninterrupted external views and accompanying natural light, individual climate control and lower noise levels, and the minimised use of materials emitting volatile organic compounds (VOC). Sustainable initiatives are displayed electronically, providing education about potable water savings, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions savings. Water-saving strategies have been implemented to drastically reduce the use of potable water, and consumption is closely monitored. Inside the building, dual flush toilets (using only 3.6ℓ per flush) and low-flow taps reduce water wastage. The touchless sensor taps are also self-charging – while running, the flowing water generates power to recharge the sensor, with no standby mains consumption required. The urinals are entirely waterless. Outside, the 100% xeriscape landscaping is irrigated with rainwater. Sustainable materials include rubber flooring made from recycled car tyres, and carpets produced

largely from recycled plastic bottles. Cocomosaic tiles – made of coconut-shell, mahogany bark or reclaimed timber mosaic pieces that have been bonded together – were used to create durable, warmly textured wall features. The concave/convex arrangement of the tile segments in the cocomosaic, which assist with refracting sound, provides acoustic dampening properties. Sustainable building consultant Annelidé Sherratt of Solid Green says 20% of the project’s contract value is represented by construction materials sourced from within 400km of the site, to minimise fuel consumption. These include Makana stock bricks, manufactured just 10km away, which were selected for their 30% weight reduction properties and locally mined clay. Nearly all the steel on the project was recycled and much of the timber was Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, reused or recycled. Nelm discourages private vehicle use by purposely providing fewer than expected parking bays, while offering dedicated preferred parking positions for carpooling and hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles. Safe and convenient cycling and pedestrian routes have been provided, along with storage and shower facilities for employees who cycle to work. Sherratt says: “The project additionally achieved GBCSA points for financial transparency, a credit designed to encourage information sharing for improved awareness of the costs related to green buildings. Further points were attained with the

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Open courtyards provide spacious rest areas for staff and visitors, while the indigenous landscaping is drought-resistant.

development of a building users’ guide, which instructs users about the building’s green initiatives and aims to optimise environmental efficiencies.” Staff are already knowledgeable about the environmental aspects of the building, but the guide is there to be used when they need a refresher, and when staff turnover happens down the line.

NATURALLY WELCOMING The development has implemented landscape and biodiversity strategies to make the most of the climate and available resources. Landscape architect Francois van Rooyen selected indigenous vegetation from four climatic biomes, each of which offer potential for educational garden tours in the future, such as medicinal and fragrant or textured tours for the visually impaired. Van Rooyen explains: “The landscape design is a living organism that will evolve as the seasons pass. Xeriscaping [drought-resistant landscaping] impacted fully on the project’s Green Star rating, despite a two-year grace period for watering in order to establish the garden. “We had a blank canvas to start with, but when you include nature’s own processes in garden design, the boundaries are already established and you have simply to follow.” Sweeping freeform curves balance the linear forms in the architecture and resonate in the landscaping and walkways. Courtyards and balconies offer outdoor

breakaway spaces for staff, and an unfenced public area provides an interactive space that welcomes the visitor. Gardens, water features and walkways may be enjoyed freely, while the open-air amphitheatre encourages street performers and book reading. With thoughtful integration between the striking building and the natural landscaping, an inviting, park-like atmosphere has been achieved at Nelm, which reiterates the museum’s role in society as a cultural sanctuary.


National English Literary Museum: Director, Beverley Thomas, 046 622 7042, Architect: Intsika Architects, principle architect, Rob Gillard, 043 726 7786, Client: Department of Arts and Culture, director: infrastructure development, Pam Ben-Mazwi, 012 441 3051, Implementing agent: Department of Public Works, senior project manager, Dr Een Greyling, 041 408 2000, Sustainability consultant: Solid Green Consulting, chief consultants, Annelidé Sherratt/Marloes Reinink, 011 447 2797, Landscape architect: Red Landscape Architects, Francois van Rooyen, 082 505 0485, Quantity surveyor: Bisiwe van Niekerk Quantity Surveyors, Willem van Niekerk, 043 721 1043, Civil and structural engineer: Camdekon Engineers, Werner de Lange, 043 722 2738, Mechanical and electrical engineer: AKM & Associates, Clive Albrecht, Fezeka Mvulana, 043 726 2995, Cocomosaic tiles: Panda Bamboo Products, 0861 114 971,

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GLASS ACT Fully glazed facades are a popular design choice, opening up spaces and giving exterior views. But how sustainable is glass as a building material? earthworks delves into the characteristics of this material, the manufacturing and recycling process of different types of glass, and how design adaptations can make glass a more sustainable option. WORDS FE M KE VAN ZANDVOORT IMAGES ISTOCKPHOTOS, AS SPECIFIED

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EMBODIED ENERGY OF MANUFACTURING Float glass is the type of clear glass most commonly used in buildings, and is made from natural and abundant raw materials. Bob van Schelt, sales director at PFG Building Glass and a committee member of the South African Glass and Glazing Association, explains that the main ingredients are 60% sand (silicon dioxide – sourced locally, predominantly in Delmas, Mpumalanga), soda ash (sodium carbonate – sourced from Botswana) and limestone (calcium carbonate – sourced from

Vredendal, Western Cape). The raw materials are mixed together and heated in a furnace at 1620°C. The melted material forms a viscous liquid. Molten glass from the furnace passes through a bath containing molten tin in an atmosphere of hydrogen and nitrogen. The continuous ribbon of glass floating on the molten tin is formed into the required thickness. Since the surface of the molten tin is flat, the glass also becomes flat and has a uniform thickness. As the liquid cools, the viscosity increases until the glass becomes solid. While it is fairly easy to recycle glass, the embodied energy associated with its manufacture (and recycling) is relatively high when compared with other building materials such as bricks, cement and steel. The combustion process used to melt the raw materials emits about 0.5tonnes of CO₂ per tonne of float glass, says Van Schelt. “However, advances in furnace design and furnace technology over the past 40 years have enabled the glass industry to halve its energy consumption while at the same time improving efficiencies and quality,” he adds.

No.5 Silo at the V&A Waterfront features high-performance double-glazing throughout the building. See earthworks issue 38 for more.

© Linley Meavers/Fourth Wall Photography


etermining the sustainability of glass is not a straightforward exercise, explains Tyrel Momberg, technical manager at the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). He points out there are at least four factors to be considered regarding any building material, including glass: the embodied energy associated with manufacture; reuse and recyclability of the material; the performance of the material (heat gain/heat loss) in operation; and the impact on people’s comfort.

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© Tristan McLaren Photography


Sasol’s new groundscraper has a glass facade featuring undulating bands of performance vision glazing and textured spandrel that wrap the building in a wave-like motion. See earthworks issue 37 for more.

Momberg cautions that the product’s thermal performance is not as efficient as other building materials, such as concrete. “This, in turn, needs to be compensated for by clever use of factors such as shading, screening, or double- or triple-glazing, which can result in glass that can perform incredibly well in terms of thermal performance and saving operational energy,” he says.

REDUCE, RE-USE AND RECYCLE Glass is a resource-efficient material – clear glass can be recycled fully and endlessly. Float lines use up to 30% of a recycled component known as cullet (broken or waste glass), in their glass mix. Cullet usage of 10% leads to a 3% reduction in furnace energy usage, says Van Schelt. While glass recycling in the packaging industry is well known, glass recycling in the flat glass industry is more problematic. Transporting building glass safely to centralised collection areas for recycling is difficult since the glass can vary in size and type. It can be tempered safety glass, laminated safety glass or monolithic thick glass, often mixed with aluminium frames, cement, bricks, plastic, paper and other materials. This is a cause for concern as foreign materials can contaminate the entire glassmaking process.

Performance glass – which can comprise body tints, interlayers and/or special coatings to provide appropriate safety and performance characteristics – is a better option for operational energy saving in buildings. However, it makes architectural glass a difficult product to recycle. “Recycling materials requires a ‘pure’ material, not a composite, and architectural glass is typically a complex composite,” says Tessa Brunette, facade engineer at ARUP. How the facade systems are fabricated also plays a role in recyclability through reuse, she adds. Flushglazed systems use structural silicone to bond glass to an aluminium frame. If the glass is to be replaced or the facade dismantled, the silicone needs to be removed and reinstalled, which requires additional material. Using a standard pressure glazed system – where the glass is held to the aluminium mullions by another aluminium extrusion called a pressure plate that is visible on the external face – for instance, does not require any wet silicone to be applied and allows for the entire system to be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, provided the modules are applicable in the new location. But, the most effective way to reduce overall materials wastage, including glass, is to use less. “Glass can be used as a structural element, therefore omitting the need for metallic frames. Glass is a very

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A good amount of natural daylight and intelligent control of solar radiation are the hallmarks of the new generation of “green” buildings, and increasingly form part of building codes and objectives of organisations. A large portion of the sun’s rays penetrate through glass and is absorbed into the room. This direct radiation effect can cause discomfort for occupants, thus requiring airconditioning to cool down the building. Even on cold days, the sun’s effect (in the form of glare) can become quite uncomfortable. External Sunshading entirely overcomes these issues by means of deflecting a substantial portion of solar radiation and controlling flow of daylight. As a cost saving measure, clear glazing can be used, since it is no longer the glass, but the external Sunshading system, that is controlling the flow the solar radiation. It is common for external blinds to lower room temperatures by around 10 degrees. This means great savings on cooling costs and depending on location may remove the need for cooling altogether. An ideal combination for South Africa’s intense radiation is double glazing (highly effective in preventing winter heat loss) together with external shading to lower the heat gain. Buildings created with these measures enjoy a comfortable and stable temperature all year round. A product like WAREMA external venetian blinds provides complete control over solar gain. The blades are incrementally adjustable and coupled with a WAREMA control system track the path of the sun to optimize the interior condition. When the sun sensor measures that exterior conditions are dull, the blinds are retracted to maximise the penetration daylight! Benefits: Increase room comfort! • Enhance daylight! • Save energy costs on cooling & artificial lighting! Reduce building costs! • Get Green Star ratings!

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strong material if heat-treated, so thinner glass could be used in some applications, within the National Building Regulations and limited by strength, deflection, available thicknesses and handling. Smaller window sizes are more energy-efficient and mean thicker glass is not required,” Brunette says. Greg Borman, facade engineer at Sutherland, agrees: “Glass is one of the top three building materials with the highest embodied energy, but it is essential. The first place to start is making sure you waste very little of it. This sounds simple but is seldom given real consideration. By tailoring the glass unit sizes in a design to more effectively use standard stock sheet sizes, we find we can reduce glass wastage. Often, we find ourselves reducing wastage from 20% or 40% down to 10% or 15% by small changes in the glass modulation. Not only is that good for the environment but as glass is normally one third of the cost of a glazed facade, it is good for the economy of the building too.”


© Barry Goldman

The quantity, orientation and type of glazing all have a profound impact on any building’s performance and these must be carefully considered in the design, says Brunette. In the South African climate,

heat from the sun has the biggest impact on a building’s internal micro-climate. How this solar load is controlled, and balanced with letting in natural daylight and access to views, can define the architectural design. To create a high performance green building, the building envelope must be designed as an integrated whole to create an optimal balance between letting light in and keeping heat out. The starting point is using passive design principles such as correct orientation. East and west sun is the harshest and hardest to control, thus it is generally better to use more solid elements on these facades. North-facing windows, when correctly shaded, allow for the best quality and control of sun, and south-facing windows can be left unshaded. “By avoiding orientations that attract high solar radiation loads – particularly orientations that have high peak loads over short durations – we can use glass with a lower performance. This could mean single-glazing as opposed to double-glazing, i.e. half the amount of glass used. It could mean a performance-coated glass that is produced locally. Both outcomes are good for the building’s carbon footprint and the construction and running cost,” says Borman.

The Multichoice building in Randburg, Gauteng features an undulating glass facade below a 100m long planar Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) roof. See earthworks issue 28 for more.

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© Christoph Hoffmann


The Ernst & Young head office at 102 Rivonia road, Sandton features a double glazed facade with performance glazing from floor to ceiling and is finished externally with vertical aluminium fins. See earthworks issue 20 for more.

As a building design develops, potential problem areas can be identified, either through modeling or by carefully planning the spatial layout of interiors – for example positioning work stations away from the window areas – and specific interventions can be chosen to improve the performance. Energy modelling is a powerful tool to analyse the impact of the wall-to-glass ratio on each orientation as well as the glass performance itself. The tools vary by stage, starting with initial calculations using rules of thumb, progressing to more specific design criteria. “With the architect, facade engineer, mechanical engineer and sustainability consultant, we tend to use Design Builder, Rhino's suite of plugins and Window throughout the project to inform decisions and design,” says Brunette. “Linked to orientation is shading, which reduces the radiant heat loads on the glass and allows us to downgrade the glass envelope’s performance. External shading can also be used to control glare and potentially generate power through PV cells encased in glass shading devices. Effective shading does come with aesthetic and structural challenges, however,” notes Borman. Once done with modulation and having made the best use of orientation, the best performing glass possible for a project needs to be found. The performance of the glass itself can be improved

through the specification of coatings or interlayers that control solar and thermal quality by improving the emissivity, solar heat gain coefficient and/or U-value properties. Innovative design elements such as double skin or closed cavity facades can be used in combination with performance glass to create high-performance glazed buildings that are more environmentally sustainable. There are many factors related to performance that need to be balanced when choosing the best glass for a specific project. “Cost of glass, running cost of HVAC to deal with the heat loads through the building envelope, running costs of lighting to top up the natural light coming through the facade, and occupant comfort within the first 1m to 4m of the envelope – these are all factors that play a role in the glass selection. They change depending on where the building is in the world. Buildings of the same shape in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Munich or New York will not have the same optimal glazing solution, as the prevailing environmental conditions in each location are different. The goal is to pick a glass that gives the best user experience of the inside space and reduces the energy usage of the building as a whole, based on specific conditions,” says Borman. Van Schelt says local knowledge and expertise is hugely beneficial when designing structures, particularly in regards to glazing.

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Glazed facades give occupants a visual connection to their environment and natural daylight should be carefully balanced with solar glare and heat control to ensure the best impacts on health and productivity. This was imperative in the Sanral building in Baywest.

INTERNAL ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY When considering the impact of glass on the internal environmental quality of buildings and the wellbeing of occupants, glass has the potential to score well. It is an essential ingredient to making buildings healthier and more liveable for occupants, firstly by allowing a visual connection to the external environment. Besides the positive impact on health and productivity, daylight can be used to save on electrical lighting. Daylight should, however, be carefully balanced with solar glare and heat reduction to avoid discomfort for occupants. “Through high-performance glass and innovative high-performance envelopes, we are able to create glass buildings that still perform well, which means that the crisp, glazed aesthetic desired by both architects and clients can be made more environmentally responsive and cost-effective over the building’s life,” says Brunette. Another effective way of introducing natural light into a building is through skylights. Well-designed skylights that allow controlled light penetration without glare or solar heat gain add significant value to occupants and allow architectural expression. Van Schelt says advances in coating technology allow for the creative use of architectural glass in reducing the harmful effects of excessive glare and solar heat gain. Modern coatings are selective in transmitting acceptable levels of light and reducing solar heat gains in terms of optimising energy efficiency, he says. Brunette adds the first principle is to control the amount of energy allowed into the building. “The ratio of glass-to-opaque area, be that masonry or areas of opaque curtain wall, has a profound

© Johan van Loggerenberg

TERMINOLOGY EXPLAINED U-Value Indicates how well a window – including its frame, glass, seals and spacers – prevents heat transfer in or out of a building. The lower the U-Value, the greater the window's resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating capacities. A low U-Value works well in all climates, especially cooler ones.

Low-e (low emissivity) glass This glass has a microscopically thin, transparent coating that reflects infrared energy (heat) and reduces the amount of energy reradiated by the glass. Performance glass can be single- or double-glazed and a performance coating such as this acts much like sunscreen.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) Measures how well glass blocks solar heat from entering the building. The lower a window's SHGC, the less solar heat is transmitted. In cooler climates, a high SHGC is beneficial during cold winter months, while hot climates are better off with a low SHGC.

Double-glazing This consists of two glass window panes separated by a vacuum or gas-filled space. Double-glazing has better insulating properties than a single layer of glass. It works on the building much like a woollen jersey would on your body.

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The Discovery headquarters, currently under construction in Sandton, is wrapped in a wave-like high-performance double glazed facade which allows deep daylight penetration into the building. See earthworks issue 32 for more.

influence on the energy performance of the building – 40% glass to 60% solid typically provides enough light and access to views while not allowing too much solar heat into the building.”

THE RIGHT BALANCE There are many different types of glass available in South Africa. The cheapest is single-layered clear glass, which is limited in use due to its lack of thermal and solar performance. This means to make glass a viable sustainable option, investment must be made into adding extra coatings, layers or designing double skin facades. It is not the material itself that is sustainable or that helps you gain green credits, it is a combination of factors. The configuration of glass installed in your building, based on the window-to-wall ratio, the orientation of the building, total glazing area, energy-efficiency of the building, and even the hours of operation by building occupants influences its performance. “The question is not whether or not to use glass, but how to get the best use out of it. Glass allows people who use a building to still be connected to the world around them. Putting people in bunkers

under artificial light is bad for their health, their psychology, their productivity and the communities they go home to,” says Borman. Werner van Antwerpen, the sustainability manager at Growthpoint, sums up the central conflict at play when considering glass for a large building. “From an engineering perspective, one would like to have concrete windows and no sunlight exposure due to the complexity of sizing and operating HVAC systems. However, from a tenant’s point of view, one would like to have as much view exposure as one can get. It is all about finding the right balance.” >>


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Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) consist of photovoltaic modules integrated into the building envelope, such as the roof, skylights or facades. of recycling, the glass, junction box and frames can be recycled. But the a-Si and c-Si film would need to be disposed of carefully. Africa’s first transparent solar facade, installed at the Growthpoint-owned GCIS building in Pretoria in 2014 (pictured below), tested two different types of power-generating glass – E-glass windows, and Tropiglas. The DC output from the PVs was taken through an inverter and fed directly into the building’s internal grid. The decision to use BIPV was taken from an innovation perspective rather than driving a financially feasible business case - the price of the BIPV is high and it generates less than a conventional PV system would have done in this instance because the facade orientation of the building did not align with optimal solar exposure. The building received innovation points in its Green Star rating for the BIPV installation, which was monitored and formed part of a research project by the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, in collaboration with Edith Cowan University in Australia. In the resulting research paper, Novel approach for concentrating and harvesting solar radiation in hybrid transparent photovoltaic facades in Southern Africa, Masters degree student Richard Gevers notes that despite the initial concerns of lower efficiencies because the panels had been installed vertically (at 90º meaning full direct irradiation at the optimal tilt was not possible), the diffused albedo irradiation that is present close to the ground level influences the radiation that strikes the panel. Also, because of the lower angle of the sun during Pretoria’s sunny winter months, the irradiation that falls on the vertical installed facade is not completely obscured by the building, as in summer months. “Additional efficiency effects such as temperature of the panel, and climate conditions are taken into account. Less cloud cover and rain during winter and the cooler cell, caused better efficiency and overall performance of the solar facade,” states the report.

© Studio 88 Photography

There are two basic commercial BIPV glass types manufactured in South Africa – crystalline silicon (c-Si) products, and thin-film silicon products (these can be semi-transparent, making them an attractive solution to architects and developers). By serving as building envelope material and power generator at the same time, BIPV systems can provide savings in both material and electricity costs. Energy is further saved due to its insulation properties. Another advantage is the architectural interest it can add to the building, as it is frameless and has a uniform colour that is aesthetically appealing. It is available in varying sizes, thicknesses, colour options and transparencies. The photovoltaic properties allow this glass to generate electricity, even in buildings with sub-optimal conditions. It works in all weather types, including low light and cloudy conditions, and it has a shorter energy payback period (the amount of time it takes to generate enough energy to equal the energy used to produce it) than traditional photovoltaic modules. ACES Energy is one of the few companies in Africa specialising in BIPV and the only one in Africa offering the transparent a-Si (Amorphous Silicon) type of BIPV that enables the glass to be semi-transparent – up to 40% VLT (visual light transmission). Director Anre Gous says the market thus far has been challenging as the nature of the product is very projectspecific and installation is not always financially viable. “By this we mean that you require a larger installation to see the full benefits of BIPV. For example, a small house with small windows would not be a viable installation, whereas a facade or skylight on a multi-storey building would be far more viable.” Another challenge is to educate architects, property developers, solar developers and investment companies on the benefits of modern BIPV. Previously BIPV was overlooked due to costs, inefficiency and uncertainty, but this is changing. The cost of installing BIPV is estimated at around R1200/m2. In terms

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Glacier is the only glass supplier in the country with a dedicated focus and understanding of the refrigeration industry. Glacier has established a commanding market position providing specialist products supported by technical expertise and a dedicated experienced team in the activities namely, Glass processing, Insulated Doors and Shelving. Glacier Glass process and distributes a wide range of Glass products. Our product are made to AAAMSA, SAGGA and the National Building, as well as SABS specifications. GLASS PROCESSING SERVICES We cut and process glass from 3mm up to 19mm, for various needs in the Refrigeration, Architectural, Domestic appliances and Automotive industries. Double Glazed glass units and Toughened Own glass services are available on request. PRODUCTS ● Insulated sealed standard and step glazed units ● Insulated sealed glass units can be gas filled ● Frameless showers ● Screen-printed glass ● Oven glass ● Glass shelving ● Tabletops ● Balustrades ● Flat automotive glass

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PROMOTING BETTER LIVING The focus of the second iteration of the Cape Craft Design Institute (CCDI)’s Better Living Challenge programme (BLC) is on bringing to the surface inventive designs which already exist in the townships, and exploring incremental upgrading of homes. The programme was officially launched at the end of June 2017 at the Nyanga Arts and Development Centre (NADC) in Cape Town, where the first test house stands. WO R D S M A RY A N N E CON STA B L E I M AGES SUP PLIED

Left: The first pilot house for BLC2 has been built by the local community on a small site next to the NADC. Centre and right: Local artists exhibit and sell their work at the NADC, and helped decorate the centre.


mplemented by the CCDI and funded by the Western Cape Government Department of Economic Development and Tourism (Dedat), and the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), the BLC was launched in 2014 under Western Cape Government’s 110% Green initiative. The programme aims to stimulate socio-economic development through design processes and tools that enable and empower disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape. The BLC’s approach to problem solving is a practical one, which provides a framework for the testing of solutions to develop methodologies and processes that are replicable and scalable. BLC 1 ran from 2014 to 2016 as a competition model (see earthworks issue 25). BLC 2, which started in 2016 and will run until 2019, varies from this in that it uses a co-operative challenge model. Instead of stimulating the creation of new solutions, BLC 2 aims to bring design innovations that already exist to the surface, and to use these to make a material change to people’s living environments, while also fostering skills and community capacity building. The specific focus is incremental upgrading of homes in informal settlements, and Nyanga on the Cape Flats is the incubation nest for the first phase. Thando Mguli, head of DHS, explained that BLC 2 represents a positive intervention into the vibrant and creative community of Nyanga, which has always been artistic. The community originally built an arts centre over 20 years ago which, after falling into disrepair, was replaced several years ago by a new building funded by Dedat (now the NADC). It was built by the community with rubble sourced from the previous building, packed into the gabion walls. The walls are

adorned with colourful painted murals and local artists exhibit and sell their work in a red shipping container behind the building. On a small site next to the NADC the first pilot house for BLC has, in collaboration with local architects, been built by the hands of the local community. The reuse of material otherwise viewed as waste is a concept being studied in a partnership between the CCDI and GreenCape and this home used recycled shipping pallets to convey this concept. The BLC is more than just a temporary intervention in the area. Mguli also explained that originally, the community thought they would just be the labour for the project, but instead they have been part of creating the design, brainstorming new ideas, and sourcing the local recycled materials. This represents the heart of the BLC. Lisa Parkes, CCDI design support programme manager, stressed that the BLC is about using design to bring about change and not imposing solutions on local communities, or simply focusing on aesthetics. It is about empowering and helping people to better their own living situations. The BLC also looks at helping people access finance to upgrade their homes, and address land ownership and user rights concerns. While the first six months of BLC 2 involved a research stage, innovative concepts – like the house already built alongside the centre – are in the process of being developed until September 2017. Between October 2017 and March 2018, the strongest solutions and processes will be taken forward and developed, replicated and scaled for impact.

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REJUVENATING THE WEST COAST Rocherpan Nature Reserve’s Phase 2 accommodation follows in the gentle footsteps of its Phase 1 development predecessor. While increasing the offering to guests visiting the reserve, Phase 2 also includes upgrades to the rainwater harvesting system and provision for universal access – all while maintaining a sensitive ecological footprint. WO R D S M A RY A N N E CON STA B L E I M AGES CAPENATURE/ARCHITECTURE CO-OP

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bout 200km north of Cape Town lies the West Coast – miles of pristine beaches, indigenous strandveld, and strangely ubiquitous white-washed Mediterraneanstyle “Cape Dutch” cottages that rise high on the edge of the sand dunes claiming the best views over the ocean. These characterise the typical tourist accommodation of the area, yet 25km beyond Velddrif, the Rocherpan Nature Reserve breaks this monotony. Its salt water vlei stretches over 6km north towards Elands Bay. Here, sensitively designed eco-cabins perch low on the horizon, almost hovering over the landscape like birds, nestled seamlessly in their natural context.

RESERVED FOR NATURE The heart of the 930ha Rocherpan Nature Reserve – the seasonal pan – is usually dry between March and June, and originally formed when farmer Pierre Rocher closed off the mouth of the Papkuils River in 1988, forcing the water to flow behind the dunes, thus creating a buffer between the sea and strandveld. The strandveld, which is endemic to the Western Cape coastal areas, is an endangered species and one of CapeNature’s priorities is to protect this precious part of the West Coast’s natural heritage. The reserve was relatively unknown until it was earmarked for redevelopment by CapeNature, which completed Phase 1 of the development on an existing site within the reserve in 2012. Rocherpan’s unique location, its untouched stretch of coastline and its abundance of natural birdlife, as well as its unmatched beauty, makes it an attractive location for local and international tourists. Leisure activities at the reserve include birdwatching, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, beach walks, and a swimming pool. The busiest season is when the pan is full, generally between August and December, when visitors are attracted by the rich birdlife and the blooming of the West Coast flowers. Tourism manager Ramese Mathews says Rocherpan signified “a good candidate for investment”, and a great opportunity to bring people closer to nature. “Our goal is to share protected areas with all sectors of the population, including the differently abled,” he says.

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A PHASED DEVELOPMENT The development was phased to minimise its impact on the sensitive surrounding environs, Mathews explains. The Phase 1 accommodation (see earthworks issue 10) was built on the footprint of existing dilapidated buildings, which contained a lot of asbestos materials. These were replaced with two staff houses, four new cabins, and a new office building and stores. A rainwater harvesting system with storage tanks was also installed to provide water to the off-grid site. Phase 2 was completed toward the end of 2015 and included four more cabins, additions to the offices, a new roofed parking area, a new picnic area with bird hide, braai area and ablutions, and a 400m-long raised boardwalk. With the increased roof area, upgrades to the rainwater harvesting system were implemented and a new swimming pool was completed at the beginning of 2017. As Phase 2 included adding new buildings and infrastructure beyond the existing footprint, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required, explains architect Justin Cooke of Architecture Co-op. A key consideration of the EIA

was building within the existing impacted area, which is fairly close to the road. Mathews says this requirement did not limit the design layout – “the new units themselves are in a prime location, with views of the pan”.

THE LIGHTEST TOUCH “The key was to minimise the impact on the existing ecosystem, on a footprint basis but also from a visual point of view,” says Cooke when discussing the “language” of the design concept. The units are single-storey low-level lightweight timber-framed cabins, slightly raised from the ground, appearing to “float” surrounded by the 1.5m strandveld vegetation. “The idea that one makes a building that air can circulate around helps with its environmental control,” Cooke adds. The modest structures are clad with grey corrugated sheeting, combined with timber latte screening and a corrugated roof with a low rounded ridge. The choice of corrugated aluminium cladding was guided by the need to make a durable building envelope in a harsh coastal environment and be easy for CapeNature to maintain. “A flat surface,




Location • Rocherpan Nature Reserve, West Coast between Velddrif and Elands Bay, Western Cape Total property size • 930ha Accommodation site area • 0.5ha


PHASE 2: Development dates: June 2014 - November 2015 (January 2017 for swimming pool) Accommodation: Four new 130m² units (including deck) 100m² parking area and storage 50m² refurbished existing store 400m-long boardwalk Bird hide and picnic area (ablutions and braai area) Budget: R9.4million

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The new units are single-storey low-level lightweight timber-framed cabins slightly raised, appearing to float surrounded by the strandveld vegetation. The waterless toilet (as seen on the left here) features a black box which heats up in the sun. As the moisture evaporates it is drawn up and out through a chimney.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM – A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE Sustainable tourism maintains a balance between tourism needs and the environmental needs of a specific place, which results in long-term enjoyment for future generations. Efforts to consider and maintain the natural ecology and biodiversity of an area result in an opportunity for tourists to deeply experience beautiful natural environments without impacting them negatively. “Sustainable wilderness-based eco-tourism is about properly integrating people's experiences with a particular landscape and a particular place. It gives people a profound first-hand experience of the uniqueness of each place as opposed to a branded offering,” says Justin Cooke of Architecture Co-op. Sustainable tourism also means creating the smallest footprint possible on an area by design that responds sensitively to each unique location. Rocherpan tourism liaison

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officer, Tania Beattie says creating minimal impact also means limiting the number of units on a site, keeping the accommodation offering small (maximum 36 guests at Rocherpan). On the contrary, private developments don’t always prioritise this. Australia leads the pack worldwide with its Ecotourism certifications for sustainable tourism products. Ecotourism, in conjunction with Eco-tourism Africa, has audited and certified certain sites in South Africa, three of which belong to CapeNature (Kogelberg, Gamkaberg and Robberg). The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) does not yet have a rating tool for tourism buildings. A number of private concerns around the country are driving sustainable tourism, with public entities such as CapeNature and SANParks quickly catching on to the inherent value of sustainable tourism, both to the client and the provider.

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like traditional white plastered and painted brick, stands out in the landscape,” explains Cooke. The ribs of the corrugated sheeting create shadows on the surface of the buildings, which helps to camouflage them. Cooke also refers to Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, who in his work drew on the Aboriginal proverb to “touch the earth lightly”. Tania Beattie, Rocherpan’s tourism liaison officer, says almost every part of the units can be dismantled and removed with little impact on the ground. “If you were to come with a giant forklift and pick one up, there would almost be no residual.” The Phase 2 guest units were designed to be the same as the two staff houses built in Phase 1. The new cabins are larger than those of Phase 1, accommodating up to five adult guests. Cooke says the Phase 2 cabins only differ from the two staff houses in the installation of solid precast concrete floors and a large universal access shower in the bathroom. More attention was paid to the water collection system and solar pumps were added and retrofitted to the Phase 1 units. The rainwater harvesting system was expanded to include collection of the run-off from the new roofs. Cooke says Phase 2 is all about universal access via raised timber boardwalks. By being raised, the biodiversity on the ground below is further protected.

NATURAL BY DESIGN Cooke says each building is first and foremost a passive entity. The environment on the West Coast is harsh, with hot sun during the day, strong cold winds at night, and lots of moisture in the air in the mornings. Cooke says: “The buildings are properly insulated and oriented [north] so you get sun when you want and shade when you don’t want sun. The roof canopy shades the north side of the building and the screen on the southern side protects from the wind.” Cross-ventilation is created by tall slotted windows that act as fins when open, scooping in the air from the south and quickly cooling down the space. An efficient fireplace in the lounge area can be used to heat the building when required and the large openings on the north side allow in plenty of natural light. The timber is locally grown, FSCregistered South African pine and easy to replace. Although a small amount of electricity is used for the lights and fridge, the geyser runs off solar power and the stove runs off gas. Beattie says she is slowly replacing the electrical kettles with whistling stovetop kettles as the stock ages, further reducing the electricity burden in the units.


Both Cooke and Mathews say water scarcity was one of the project’s greatest challenges. Beattie explains that the reserve is currently trucking in water Each unit features solar geysers on the roof and two 5000ℓ rainwater storage tanks. from nearby Dwarskersbos Raised wooden boardwalks protect the vegetation below, and allow for universal access. (a 25km round trip) with their 5000ℓ transportation tank. The lowest rainfall on record in the past 10 years was just 258mm and with the Western Cape’s current drought, prospects for rain are not looking good. “We are actively exploring alternative methods of acquiring and preserving the water resource at Rocherpan Nature Reserve,” says Mathews. “Over the next few years, we intend to trial several innovative technologies at the reserve.” When there is rain, the water is filtered through rain runners and sent to the storage tanks. There

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CAPE TOWN WATER SUPPLY IS A CATASTROPHE THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHEN WATER HAS BEEN STRESSED, but in terms of sustainable water, the supply has completely dried up.

is also a huge concern and Water Rhapsody provides water filtration to ensure excellent quality water whether from rain or municipal supply.

Future municipal supplies may come from two sources. Those are desalination of sea water which Cape Town will soon find is as unpalatable as it is expensive. Besides desalination is massively expensive in terms of energy, which is in any case, in short supply in South Africa. A second non-sustainable supply may come from the TMG aquafer – a fossil body of water without any present day recharge.

Firstly however, it is imperative that everybody minimizes their demand for water and this is done by the re-use of grey water for irrigation purposes, minimizes toilet flushing with a multi-flush and re-uses swimming pool back-wash water, returned safely to the pool from whence the water came.

However, a supply not considered by the Municipality is rainwater. This is because these politicians and bureaucrats overlook this source of water because they cannot sell it to you. This is the harvesting of rainwater for entire households to use with an off-the-grid system. Thus bath, shower, hand basin, laundry, toilet flushing and even drinking water may come from your own roof. When water-shedding (outages) are implemented later in the 2017/18 summer, this system not only guarantees a reduction of municipal supply, but also an indemnity against outages. Water quality

All of the Water Rhapsody products have been designed in Cape Town for use in South Africa and no technology has been designed elsewhere.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION Please see our website or feel free to give us a call on 021 531 9864

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are ten 10 000ℓ tanks outside the offices and each cabin features two 5000ℓ tanks. “Water is pumped into the cabins at approximately four bar pressure, and a self-regulated pump delivers a steady supply of water on demand,” explains Mathews. The cabins also feature dry composting (waterless) toilets, which further reduce water consumption by at least 30% (compared to conventional flush toilets). The waterless toilets by Enviro Loo are hygienic and odourless and feature an external black box that heats up in the sun. The moisture from the waste is drawn upwards and outwards through a chimney. A mechanical fan can be switched on to aid this process during the colder months. At intervals the dry solid material must be raked off the drying plate and taken to the sludge fields at the Velddrif Waste Water Treatment Works, where it degrades back into the ground. Beattie says the solid materials are a very small percentage of the original bulk mass. Mathews says at Kogelberg Nature Reserve near Hermanus, where CapeNature first introduced the waterless toilets, they were especially well received: “We sometimes get concerned clients asking how we are going to manage the smell but they are always pleasantly surprised to find there is in fact no smell.” A large poster on the wall next to the toilet clearly explains to the guests how to use the toilets correctly. The greywater from the older units is filtered through soakaways, and grease traps in the newer units. It then runs out via a pipe under the unit and back into the ground. Water meters have been installed in each unit for guests to observe their water consumption. Beattie says they are talking about limiting guests’ consumption to a certain number of litres per day/stay, thereafter requiring guests to pay for more. This will encourage guests to be mindful of water usage. Beattie says the water for the swimming pool, which has a salt water chlorinator, is groundwater


• Passive design features – north-facing, overhangs and timber screens for shading, large openings for ample daylight • Natural cross-ventilation through vertical slotted windows that act as fins • Materials – FSC-certified SA pine used for timber frame structures • Water – Dry composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, water meters in each cabin, greywater soakaway. Two 5000ℓ tanks per guest unit • Energy – Solar geysers, gas stove, wood fireplace for efficient heating • Swimming pool – salt water chlorinated, filled with groundwater from wind pump, reflective cover, artificial grass instead of waterthirsty lawn • Strandveld rehabilitation

pumped by the nearby windmill. The water’s iron content is too high for it to be drinkable. The pool now has a special reflective cover. “Before we installed the cover, we were losing 4000ℓ of water per week to evaporation,” she adds.

CLOSE COLLABORATION Cooke has worked with CapeNature on a number of projects now, including the multi award-winning Oudebosch camp at Kogelberg Nature Reserve. “CapeNature’s tourism team is very open to looking at new technologies and trying something innovative on each project. All of these things have come about because of a unique collaboration between us,” he says. “It’s great to see CapeNature’s readiness to engage with managing the ecological impacts of their projects in a sensitive way. Every design process is one of discovery. You have to find solutions that work for those specific locations. This process helps you understand constraints and make decisions that respond directly to the ecosystem. You then tailor the design to suit that.” Mathews says that in a few more years and after a few more developments in their reserves, CapeNature hopes to “lead the pack” in environmentally sustainable tourism.


Architect: Architecture Co-op, Justin Cooke,,, 021 761 4455 Client: CapeNature,, 021 483 0000 Programme manager, tourism management: Wilfred Williams,, 021 483 0071 Tourism manager: Ramese Mathews,, 021 483 0075 Tourism liaison officer: Tania Beattie,, 079 203 1092 Contractor: Bambana, Giovanni D’Ambrosio,, 021 386 5400 Engineers: De Villiers Sheard, Case Bakker,, 021 689 2377 Quantity surveyors: AMPS QS, Heren Mannie,, 021 551 3141 Environmental control officer: Footprint Environmental Services, Sean Ranger and Charl du Plessis,, 079 172 4340 Health and safety consultant: Wesbron, Jannie Louw, Land surveyor: Arvind Bhawan,, 021 447 7286 Waterless toilets: Enviro Loo,,, 011 762 1624 Rain water harvesting system: Water Eco Technologies, Will van der Merwe,, 022 492 3300

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The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Jean-Pierre Desvaux de Marigny, winner of the 2017 Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award, speaks to earthworks about the inspiration for his winning thesis, his future, and his thoughts on the role of architecture in society.

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Your thesis (see description p.74) combines architecture, sustainability and biodiversity in one project. What informed this idea? It comes down to my passion for creativity, fused with a moral obligation towards environmental and social improvement, mainly developed as a response to the current state of our planet and the consistent degradation that occurs on a daily basis. Many remain ignorant of how critical our impact as humans is on the earth, and my strong belief is that architecture holds the potential to reverse this. The idea of a building acting as a “prosthetic” for nature is intriguing. Where did the concept come from? This view evolved through extensive academic reading, eventually coming across a piece written by Ken Yeang, in the book Ecodesign: A manual for ecological design which states: “When buildings are inserted into the natural environment, they should begin to host the ability to function in much the same way as a living organism would within a particular place.” Keeping this quote in the back of my mind, while understanding both the constraints and opportunities of my site (located just downstream of the Springfield Industrial Park in Durban), I proposed the question: How could a machine begin to function as a life support system in the natural context in which it exists? These two ideas drove my proposed architectural intervention towards being able to draw an analogy between the organism and the machine, primarily through viewing architecture as similar to a mechanical prosthetic device, which, once attached or inserted into the natural environment, aids the functioning of a defective part. The defective part in this case was the ecosystem found within the lower Umgeni River. What made you choose the proposed site? The site was chosen based specifically on the vast amounts of water pollutants that are washed downstream daily in the Umgeni River. They accumulate as the watercourse passes through many informally occupied areas before reaching Durban’s coastline. This threatens the survival of many of the aquatic species within the watercourse

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itself, as well as the surrounding communities that rely on the river for survival. It also has knock-on effects such as closure of Durban’s public beaches, and thus a lack of tourism and investment interest in and around these areas. Why do you think your project stood out to the judges? I think it was a combination of factors. Firstly, it’s a topic that is extremely relevant at the moment, particularly as we face various environmental challenges due to climate change. Secondly, it was something that hadn’t been done before. It indicates how, through design intervention, architects can, and have a responsibility to make a major difference in this world. Why did you decide to pursue a career in architecture and what informs your architectural philosophy? As a former pupil of Assagay Roseway Waldorf School I was always “alternatively creative” and also had a love and appreciation for the natural world. Although I didn’t initially know what career path I wanted to follow, I knew it would be something within a creative field. I applied for various courses after school but never felt the urge or calling to enrol in any, until I was accepted into architecture. At that point, I had no idea what the journey entailed, but I remember that something just felt right about it.

Desvaux de Marigny’s winning thesis model focused on design for biodiversity and proposes a mixed use water research facility over the Umgeni River.

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Are sustainability and green building topics that you’ve always been passionate about, or are they being taught at university? Even though sustainability and green building are touched on during our years at university, they are topics which remain a minor focus, particularly when one compares South African universities to other countries. So, I guess my architectural philosophy goes back to personal appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and my fascination with the functioning of the ecosystems within it. I believe there is still a great amount we can learn if we truly understand the natural processes of various ecosystems, and if applied correctly, we could change the way our built environment operates and interacts with the earth as a whole. How do you think technology and creativity should fit together? Within the architectural world these two elements go hand-in-hand, based purely on acknowledging that if one is to successfully materialise a creative concept from start to finish, it always takes a strong understanding of how, structurally, space can be constructed. If a designer is able to maintain a good grasp of this at conceptual stage, the end result is bound to be successful. What do you think of the current state of sustainable building in South Africa? I think there is a major lack of public awareness around the long-term benefits of environmental building solutions, particularly in comparison to other countries. In this regard, I feel that even though our country faces different economic and political challenges to other countries, there is still room for every individual at a domestic scale to acknowledge their personal impact and then at a larger scale to realise how architectural designers hold the potential to help society as a whole; to truly minimise and reverse our impact on the natural environment. How do you see the role of architecture changing in the context of climate change and rapid urban growth? I think we can clearly define our current time as an environmental and technological era, with huge advancements in these two areas over the past and next 50 years. In terms of rapid urban growth, architects have a huge responsibility to create a built environment that is responsive to the needs of the planet first, and as a result society, rather than viewing

it the other way around. If we can create space with other species in mind, our urban environment and its inhabitants will naturally flourish. Do you see architecture as instrumental in pushing sustainability? I don’t see architecture as an instrument, but rather a profession that can truly bring about change. I’m not talking about environmental change only, but also about changing the public’s perception of how what architects create plays a major role in either enhancing or reducing our ability as humans to coexist with the natural world. Do you feel there is enough focus on the role that buildings play in promoting engagement with the environment, or is there still work to do? There is a huge amount to be done, specifically with regards to developing the perception of architecture as an extension of the natural environment and not something that blocks it out. We also need to acknowledge that these two elements (architecture and nature) need to be understood as inseparable from one another. Architecture can be an interface that connects humans with the environment. How do you envision your career unfolding and what are you hoping to pursue in future? I aim to eventually run my own practice – one that lends itself to the process of creating meaningful architecture and not necessarily just “a product”. Many think that architects just draw buildings, when drawing a building is such a minor part of our job. It’s just part of the process we go through with our clients towards developing new ideas and interventions. What would be your dream job, and what are some of the company values that most appeal to you? I wouldn’t define it as a particular project, job or firm, but rather being able to work with clients and colleagues who share the same passion for design as I do, thus remaining open to developing and trying new approaches towards shaping space, while of course being able to enjoy and appreciate that experience simultaneously. In terms of your architectural process, what could you not do without? A large roll of tracing paper, a thick black marker pen and, most importantly, passion. >>

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DESIGN FOR BIODIVERSITY – DESVAUX DE MARIGNY’S WINNING THESIS Project title: Umgeni river water research facility Building type: Mixed use Site: Springfield Industrial Park, on the Umgeni River, KwaZulu-Natal

allows for direct access to the water body itself to sustainably

Background: Desvaux de Marigny’s dissertation explores

through inhabited areas before reaching the coast.

how architecture could potentially minimise its impact

filter both surface (plastic, rubber, geo-polymers) and subsurface (human, industrial, agricultural) water pollutants and wastes that accumulate as the watercourse passes This is achieved through using both applied technological

on, or actively conserve and restore natural areas and

solutions and integrated ecological processes that take

ecosystems. It focuses on two key areas within the

advantage of renewable energy sources. These integrate

discourse of environmental design, both eco-efficient

various ecological living processes such as reconstructed

applied (technological) systems and eco-effective integrated

wetland cells forming the roof level, ecological water

(ecological/regenerative) systems. The architectural design

filtration tanks located at bridge level, and water hyacinth

aims to harness and use any potential methods that

and algae ponds located at ground level - all of which host

could aid in the conservation and restoration of critically

indigenous plants, fish, molluscs, zooplankton, micro-

endangered biodiversity hotspots, in the context of the

bacteria and clams that are able to conjunctively remove

Umgeni River in Durban.

harmful bacteria, heavy metals and pollutants from the

Architectural solution: He draws an analogy between the

extracted water. The water is then further analysed and

machine and ecology at the Springfield industrial park

tested before being used for regenerative purposes such as

context and the natural biodiverse ecosystems found

fish rehabilitation, mangrove restoration, indigenous tree

within the lower Umgeni River catchment area. Desvaux de

growth and aquaponic systems.

Marigny sees the role of architecture as similar to that of a

Lastly, the structure is designed to be didactic in nature

mechanical prosthetic device, so that architecture begins to

to allow all of the systems and processes used to be entirely

act as a natural life support system in the context in which it

transparent. Therefore, as the public passes through the

exists. Attaching to an existing 440m-long pedestrian bridge,

building it is hoped they experience a sense of heightened

the facility minimises its ecological footprint through being

awareness of the potential that architecture holds to actively

suspended off four existing concrete column supports

contribute to the conservation and restoration of the natural

that enable the structure to span the width of the river. This

environment around them.

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SMART SIDE OF GREEN The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping buildings become smart and dynamic, with notable benefits for construction, occupation and maintenance. WORDS FRA NCINI VAN STADEN IL LUSTR ATIO N FREEPIK.COM

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mart technology is connecting everyday objects, tasks, locations and people in virtual ways that were once thought to be pure science fiction. The smart vision covers everything from picking up imminent illness in a person’s voice to transforming buildings into intelligent constructions that can make pre-emptive building performance decisions independent of human influence. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is a conceptual framework that links interconnected technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) in proactive ways. Not leveraging IoT advancements for buildings is a real loss for building performance to produce tangible business benefits for the occupants,” says Wolf Stinnes, solutions architect responsible for Smart Cities and IoT at Dimension Data Middle East and Africa.

SMART BUILDINGS The first type of smart building tool, Building Management Systems (BMS), offered mainly heating, lighting and equipment control, and closed circuit video monitoring. However, recent technological advancements have changed virtually every component of buildings, with building occupants and managers now having full control of managing a myriad internal and external systems. Smart technology provides organisational, management and security benefits that can scale to

international sport or entertainment events, and to a wider city level. Smart building technologies “started off as remote controlled and end-user operated, but there is a shift from user-managed to technology-managed as systems become smarter. Without the need for end-user input, smart building technology integrates flawlessly with users’ lives”, says Jono Dangoumou, marketing executive at CarbonTRACK. Smart buildings reduce the role of humans in building maintenance, such as the automation of maintenance checks of HVAC, fire and security systems. “There are more and faster chips as well as more sensors in every element of buildings. Paired with improved wireless networking technology and standardised communication protocols that make it easier to collect data, it’s possible to transmit information, crunch numbers and use data like never before”, says Neil Cameron, Johnson Controls area general manager, building efficiency – Africa.


Collaboration & Processes (Involving People & Business Processes)


Application (Reporting, Analytics, Control)


Data Abstraction (Aggregation & Access)


Data Accumulation (Storage)


Edge Computing (Data Element Analysis & Transformation)


Connectivity (Communication & Processing Units)


Physical Devices & Controllers) (The “Things” in IoT)


EDGE: Sensors, Devices, Machines, Intelligent Edge Nodes of all types

Diagram 1: Internet of Things Reference Model. IoT World Forum Architecture Committee

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A smart building can be visualised as consisting of horizontal layers, as illustrated by the IoT World Forum Reference Model (see page 79). “The devices that can send and receive data via an Internet Protocol (IP) network connection are usually in place for most buildings, although not sufficiently used,” says Stinnes. Applications can access and process data through optimised data processing, or edge computing, and by collection of the data in appropriate databases.

DATA DECISIONS FOR IMPROVED PERFORMANCE AND EXPERIENCE BMS for water and energy consumption, audio visual, security, and indoor climate are smart building tools, but introducing the IoT – either through design or retrofitting – offers a dynamic change to how buildings are managed, particularly by the end user. Described as the ‘third wave of smart buildings’, IoT transforms buildings horizontally by eliminating the conventional silo approach to building management with separate service provider maintenance for each building component. “Whereas building services used to operate in isolation, IoT integrates all systems through an IP communication backbone. Besides all systems now talking to one another, building performance data can be gathered collectively, including occupant behaviour and preference data,” says Stinnes. This is changing resource management profoundly. “Smart buildings have the ability to identify the performance of each of the building service elements, and make data-driven decisions accordingly. By understanding the interaction between building occupancy and building performance, smart technology can drive decisions on lighting and heating levels, while incorporating weather data.” In turn, this drives sustainability,

considering that the greatest environmental impact of a building emanates from the operational phase, which can span over 20 or 30 years. Improved, finely tuned indoor comfort is another benefit. “Smart buildings have improved indoor environmental quality, whether autonomously or occupant-controlled. Research has linked this to improved cognitive function,” says Michelle Ludwig of Ludwig Design Consulting. Smart technology monitoring air quality, detecting gas leaks or responding to noise pollution are home or office benefits. “Control over one’s environment, such as being able to adjust personal zone temperature and lighting, is also known to increase productivity by up to 11%. Smart buildings are instrumental in facilitating this control, particularly in larger and more sophisticated buildings.” Instant access to on-demand location information further enables office performance and efficiency, such as showing availability of parking bays or unoccupied boardrooms. It is not only operation and management that benefits from smart technology, but also the building design and construction phase. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a smart technology tool. Vaughan Harris, executive director of the BIM Institute, says: “BIM is not just drawings or 3D modelling but essentially a communication tool. It embeds key product and asset data into a 3D computer model but can be used for effective management on a building. A proposed building construction is virtually modelled in pixels before being built in bricks and concrete, making it a smart operation. BIM optimises service delivery potential of built assets, and minimises risks and costs. This ensures positive enhancement of natural and social capital. It is effective throughout the entire process from building design to management in that it focuses on the long-term direction for overall management

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of infrastructure and engineering assets, while considering the immediate operational matters.”

SOUTH AFRICA’S SMART MARKET Although the residential uptake of IoT is slower than in other regions around the world, the South African Facilities Management Association (SAFMA) says their commercial clients show preference for facilities management incorporating technology. Buildings adapt and integrate to changing situations such as weather, light and occupant preferences. The smart

has to be installed. “Eighty percent of what is required to create a smart building is typically available in existing buildings. Connecting existing data communication points is all that’s required. By using existing technology and building systems, the cost of creating smart buildings can be reduced considerably.” Older building infrastructure may require more detailed technological retrofitting. “Technological groundwork is required where buildings do not have a data protocol. Technological translation work is then needed to allow for data emergence.”

Eighty percent of what is required to create a smart building is typically available in existing buildings. WOLF STINNES, DIMENSION DATA

technology element is proving highly favourable in eliminating reactive occupant behaviour by, for example, applying energy consumption data to drive decisions even before the occupants become aware of high-energy consumption patterns. “The South African market is cost conscious; building owners are moving towards smart buildings because of cost savings on resources such as water and electricity,” says Dangoumou. The same applies for real-time capabilities. “Receiving a usage bill is after-the-fact. With smart buildings, it is possible to verify resource consumption in real-time and this enables occupants or owners to respond immediately. Smart building home owners are seeing successful returns on investments.” Retrofitting South African buildings is possible. “Making IoT work for a building becomes a manageable exercise once existing systems are connected to communicate with one another,” says Stinnes. Smart buildings require technological gateways for data translation, not the installation of new systems. This feeds an intelligence centre that

An additional benefit is that “most components are wireless and the technology is designed with retrofitting in mind,” says Dangoumou. “BMS such as energy management systems are wireless and only require a hub, current clamps for recording energy consumption and smart relays that communicate the data wirelessly via an IP system.”

GREEN AND SMART Smart building principles are not only aligned to green building principles, but also enable green buildings to function well because they offer a greater understanding of resource consumption and associated efficiency levels. The commonality between green and smart buildings lies in the controllability of systems and the fundamental inclusion of building systems innovation, measurement, monitoring and verification. The overlap between green and smart buildings extends from construction to operational phases. In terms of the Green Building Council SA’s operational ratings, “there is a clear link between real-time

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operation of buildings and Green Star SA ratings, connecting IoT and sustainability”, says Stinnes. Integration and control beyond that of traditional systems is what delivers the green management edge. Smart buildings enable resource consumption measurement and monitoring at detailed levels that were previously not possible, with intelligent and remote performance management all responding to the smarter use of less resources. Smart buildingenabled energy-efficiency drives reduced carbon dioxide emissions across the entire building lifespan. He adds: “Buildings cannot be green without having intelligence built into the design and operation. Intelligence offers significant opportunities that can promote the sustainability performance of buildings. The drive for green buildings is a strong driver for intelligent solutions.”

CHALLENGES AND VULNERABILITIES Smart buildings are, however, susceptible to the same risks associated with IoT, AI and smart technology in general. “Hacking, ransomware and the question of truly understanding privacy and data ownership are some risks. This will require action across the industry, from policy makers to practice, including IT experts,” says Stinnes. Smart buildings generate real-time data linked to occupants’ whereabouts and routines, which could give rise to home and personal security concerns, but “given a time delay linked to personal and sensitive data, some of the privacy risks can be prevented”.

Harris explains that although the demand for technological changes is becoming greater in the building design and construction industry, “there is still a substantial gap between design delivery and operation”. Smart building technology challenges experienced by organisations include workforce education about digital tools, processes and workflows in meeting standards. “Implementing IoT is more in-depth than just loading the right software on to the right devices. The challenge escalates given diverse teams with varied levels of experience, workload, motivation and access to technology. Organisations face a knowledge gap that prevents them from achieving development trends. At the same time, facilities should ask the right questions to ensure that whatever smart solution is adopted, it is fully customisable to reflect the unique processes and workflows of the facility,” says Harris. “If owners and operators understand the challenges, it can be taken forward through BIM opportunities for the design, construction and management of future smart buildings,” he continues. Another challenge is the speed of IoT acceleration. “The building industry and its various elements, such as electrical, materials and other systems, are moving slower. The speed at which the industry will embrace intelligence and incorporate it through tender documents, leasing and maintenance is one of the challenges moving forward,” says Stinnes. Smart technology contributes to monitoring technology for facilities management, but there are data challenges. “The situation where too much data is generated without a specific and intended purpose should be avoided. Facilities should generate data to match the needs of the facility. Not every facilities manager or building owner needs all of the available data from constant monitoring, all of the time,” says Barry Diedericks, Infor EAM subject matter expert at Softworx. Smart buildings offer an explosion of data, but data purpose should be considered when generating data and “this may be entirely different between facilities and sectors,” says Diedericks. The South African cost of data and reliability of connections influence the residential sector’s uptake of smart technology, and without these in place, mainstream residential uptake remains a challenge.

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“Currently, about 90% of building management based on smart building capacity is human driven. But, there are early signs of algorithm intervention, with likely further improvements to building management and performance efficiency. The more proactive buildings become, the greater building comfort and resource efficiency,” says Stinnes. “The next step is to evaluate management effects of such algorithm interventions. There is progress towards the AI side of building operation”. Smart buildings need not only revolve around the collection and integration of data and systems, but also around how buildings are used. Using smart technology, spaces become a fusion between home, work and play. “Transforming from a one-purpose space to a multi-purpose environment, smart technology can adapt an environment to whatever the occupants are currently busy with, whether work, living or entertainment,” says Stinnes about future smart building possibilities.

Harris concludes that smart buildings “bring together parties involved who otherwise would be hesitant or distant when trying to work together in one building and share information and data through a common data environment”. Collaboration is as important as resource efficiency and performance improvements as the distinct drivers of smart technology. As the building industry translates these drivers into operation, it is expected that potential will continue to be unlocked and smart building technology will be adopted at a faster pace.


Dimension Data: Wolf Stinnes,, CarbonTRACK: Jono Dangoumou,, Ludwig Design Consulting: Michelle Ludwig,, South African Facilities Management Association: Barry Diedericks,, BIM Institute: Vaughan Harris,,

THE EDGE Dubbed the 'smartest, greenest' building in the world, The Edge in Amsterdam was awarded the BREEAM Award for Offices: New Construction in 2016, and has been heralded as a leading example of how technology can enhance a workspace for occupants and contribute to environmental sustainability. The building is fitted with 28 000 sensors that tell how much energy and water is being consumed, when the bathrooms need cleaning, how many parking spots are available and even remembers how certain people prefer their coffee. Workers connect to the building through a smartphone app, which helps them to find parking, find a hot desk to work at for the day, and also locate their colleagues as well as control the temperature and lighting of the room they are in.

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SOLAR VALLEY With its heavy reliance on dirty coal-fired power stations, South Africa’s CO2 emissions are among the highest in the world, yet its abundance of sun gives the country world-leading potential for clean, affordable and efficient renewable energy. A new 100MW concentrated solar power (CSP) station in Karoshoek near Upington will soon help wean South Africa off its current carbon-intensive diet. WO R D S JO R I S N A B ON THUYS I M AGE S I STOCKPHOTOS, SUPPLIED

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n terms of its global commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa is under pressure to halt its dependence on coal-fired power and reduce its national carbon footprint. Even the greenest buildings in South Africa have a sizeable carbon footprint as they rely largely on coalfired power from Eskom for electricity. This fact will remain until South Africa builds up a critical mass of utility-sized renewable energy plants to provide carbon-free energy to the electricity grid. Solar photovoltaic (PV), wind and flexible power generators – including concentrated solar power (CSP), gas, hydro and biogas – are already the cheapest new-build energy mix compared to coal or nuclear power. South Africa’s internationally lauded renewable energy roll-out, however, has been negatively affected by policy uncertainty and the slow rate at which Eskom has been signing independent power producer agreements.

thermal storage capacity is five hours, enabling it to yield more than 320GW per year. The project also has a social component, which aims to benefit the surrounding communities. Pancho Ndebele, founder of Emvelo, the blackowned green resources company that developed the R11billion Ilanga CSP 1 project, believes it will help to kickstart the renewable energy industry in the region. “The overarching vision for the Karoshoek Solar Valley Park, in which Ilanga CSP 1 is situated, is to develop a solar thermal park complex that will contribute to renewable energy targets in a manner that enhances socio-economic development and the acceleration of inclusive growth and economic transformation.”

Oil Circuit

KAROSHOEK SOLAR VALLEY The Northern Cape, in particular, has some of the best solar resources in the world and presents a stellar opportunity to lower carbon dependency. The Ilanga CSP 1 project, located in Karoshoek about 20km east of Upington, will provide solar-generated thermal electricity both day and night. The 100MW utility is the first phase of a significantly larger envisaged solar park complex. The power station’s

Steam Turbine Generator

Steam Boiler

Hot Salt

Heat Exchange Condenser

Thermal Energy Storage

Oil Circuit

Solar Trough Field

HOW CSP WORKS A concentrated solar plant operates on the same principles as a conventional power station. However, instead of using coal as its fuel source, the plant uses the sun’s energy to generate electricity, Siyabonga Mbanjwa from Sener explains. In a parabolic trough CSP plant “the sun’s energy is concentrated by curved, trough-shaped mirrors on to a receiver pipe running along the inside of its curved surface. This energy heats oil flowing through the pipes and is used to generate electricity in a conventional steam generator. Once the turbine has reached its mechanical thermal capacity, the surplus thermal energy is sent to a thermal storage system. The heat is then transferred to molten salt in an insulated tank (during the day) and withdrawn for power generation (at night),” says Mbanjwa. This means CSP with thermal storage is a non-intermittent flexible power plant that can deliver “baseload” as well as peak electricity.



1. Reflector 2. Absorber tube 3. Metal construction 4. Pipe installation

3 4

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Location • Karos, Upington Cost • R11billion Capacity • 100MW Construction start • October 2015 Anticipated completion • November 2018


Concept proposals show the scope for development of the area as a “solar valley” or corridor, which would also necessitate further urban development and upgrades of the surrounding areas.

The mega solar park complex, which is an awardwinning integrated infrastructure development project located in the Dawid Kruiper municipality, has a planned total footprint of 6000ha. Karoshoek is located in the heart of this 5GW Northern Cape solar corridor that has been identified in the provincial growth and development strategy. Ilanga CSP 1 was awarded preferred bidder status in terms of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) in October 2013 and reached financial close in March 2015, when a power purchase agreement was signed with Eskom and the Department of Energy. This process was delayed by seven months. The Emvelo team is participating in the execution of the project as both client and contractor. The facility, which is currently in its construction phase, will be up and running by November 2018.



Despite their large size, these incredibly accurate optical devices are aligned with millimetre precision. Many parallel rows of these collectors span across a solar field, covering an area of about 400ha. A total of 360 000 curved mirrors, which line the solar collecting troughs, were shipped to Cape Town from Europe and then transported to Upington in trucks. The solar collectors are currently assembled on-site by trained local residents. Once assembled (it takes about 12 minutes per collector), the solar collectors are transported to the exact location on the back of a trailer. There, they are placed into position on a metal support structure. On completion the farm will comprise close to 15 000 collectors. An additional 2000 trucks will ferry other imported components from Cape Town to the construction site. These include 360 000 cantilever arms, 37 000tonnes of nitrate salts for the thermal

SOLAR FIELDS FOREVER CSP technology uses specially designed mirrors to focus the sun’s light energy. Unlike conventional solar PV, which converts light energy directly into electrical power, CSP uses heat energy to drive a turbine with steam, which in turn generates electrical power. Ilanga CSP 1 consists of a field with rows of parabolic troughs – curved solar collectors lined with polished metal mirrors – around six metres high and several metres long. The parabolic troughs rotate to track the movement of the sun and reflect its heat on to fluid-filled tubes that run through the length of the mirrors. The tubes store the heat.

Two pressure vessels are put in place during the construction process.

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energy storage system, 8500 receiver tubes and 5700t of heat transfer fluid. Ndebele says: “This is a huge engineering, procurement, construction and logistics operation.” The civil works for the site included earthworks and the preparation of foundations for the solar field metal support structures, the steam generator, turbine, air-cooling condenser, pressure vessels, main pumps, heat exchangers, electrical buildings and the thermal energy storage system. Building at Karoshoek has a unique set of challenges. Ndebele explains: “During summer temperatures can reach up to 40ºC in the area and it’s pretty hot working on site. Luckily, most of our construction workers are from the area and are used to the conditions. Some of the unexpected challenges included the site experiencing heavy rains in January 2016, which resulted in flooding of the main access road to the site.”

STORING ENERGY FOR TOMORROW Unlike conventional solar PV plants, CSP thermal energy can be stored, which means electricity generation is not constrained to when the sun is shining. Siyabonga Mbanjwa from engineering design company Sener explains: “CSP with heat energy storage is the only renewable energy technology with the ability to deliver dispatchable electricity. This is one of the most distinct features of this plant.” Ndebele adds: “It is environmentally sustainable, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality for local communities. When coupled with drycooling, CSP technologies also use little water. Also, most of the solar field components are made from materials that can be recycled.” The CSP plant will provide electricity to about 80 000 households and displace about 370 000t of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation. The entire project fits into national and regional green economy ambitions, says Ndebele. Solar thermal technology also supports the creation of more local jobs than other forms of renewable energy, including the local manufacturing of components on a significant scale. Almost half of everything built at Karoshoek is manufactured in South Africa. Ndebele explains: “A CSP plant like ours can not only green our energy mix, it can boost our manufacturing economy. If we have a sustained CSP procurement programme, 80% of the components could be manufactured locally.” Essentially, component manufacturers would be more likely

Once complete, the 360 000 curved mirrors, which line the solar collecting troughs at iLanga CSP 1 will make for a spectacular sight.

to establish factories in South Africa if there was certainty that more CSP projects would be rolled out. For this, developers need to be sure that any power they produce will be purchased by Eskom, which controls the distribution of electricity in South Africa to end-users. CSP technology development is still on a steep learning curve, and the factors that will further reduce costs are policy and market certainty with regards to the future of independent power producers under the current REIPPP or another framework. Technological improvements, mass production, economies of scale, improved operation and maintenance will also play a role. Ndebele says: “A CSP power station has a lifespan similar to a conventional power plant (30 to 40 years). It uses the sun, which is free, and that means we can determine what the cost of electricity from it will be 20 years from now because the fuel source is free. “CSP also reduces exposure to the risk of the cost escalation of imported diesel, natural gas and other sources of fuel for conventional power plants. Levelling the playing field between CSP and conventional options by increasing the plant size and lengthening the power purchase agreement terms will further enhance CSP as a competitive energy technology.” South Africa’s REIPPP has attracted an investment of R192billion for 92 energy infrastructure projects producing a total of 6236MW – with about R53billion of this coming from the seven CSP projects approved to date, producing a total of 600MW. With only 5GW of CSP installed globally, compared to wind at 500GW and solar PV at 250GW, CSP technology is relatively young compared to other energy technologies. “It offers South Africa the opportunity to become a mecca for CSP, given the vast solar resources that are available across most of the country,” says Ndebele.

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Job creation • 30,95 jobs per MW created • Estimated 1500 jobs during construction • 80-100 full-time operational jobs

Local content and material • 49,3%

Ownership • 30% black ownership in Karoshoek Solar One • 20% black ownership in the contractor responsible for construction and operations

GREEN ENERGY FOR SOCIAL CHANGE Karoshoek is more than just an ambitious solar energy project. It is also an example of how integrated regional planning can generate social upliftment. The Dennis Moss Partnership has been involved in putting together a broader development vision for Karoshoek that fits in with local municipal aims and realities. Dennis Moss explains: “It has the potential to make a significant contribution to broadening the understanding of how sustainable development can be addressed on a local level in terms of principles, policies and criteria that have now taken centre stage.” A key element of Karoshoek’s social development initiative is the upliftment of adjacent rural communities. This includes the potential renewal and restructuring of settlements like Lambrechtsdrift, Karos, Ntsikelelo and Leerkrans in accordance with the local municipality’s Integrated Development Plan and Spatial Development Framework. In addition to wealth creation through direct investments, the project will help create some 1500 jobs (skilled and unskilled) during construction. Ilanga CSP 1 will also inject millions of rands annually into socio-economic development projects in the region over the next two decades. The funds will be channelled to projects in education, tourism, housing, healthcare, community and recreational facilities, and small- and medium-scale enterprise support and development. The surrounding townships are providing some of the local labour, and they will also be beneficiaries of the Karoshoek Community Trust through the social upliftment projects to be implemented, such as housing assistance and support for basic services. Besides the solar fields, the solar park complex will include various other elements, such as dedicated evacuation power lines, a bulk water supply from an

Management • 55,14% management control of construction, operations

Socio-economic development • Commitment to spend 1% of revenue on local communities for two decades (estimated R500million over 20 years) • Beneficiaries defined within a 50km radius of project

abstraction point at the Orange River, a concentrated solar energy academy, accommodation and housing. The goal is to establish a host of CSP power stations that will collectively supply 1GW into the grid by 2030. Moss explains: “The idea is that this could spur the development of downstream industries as well as promote local industrialisation and green building developments in the region.” Solar pundits have long recognised the value of this resource in the Northern Cape, but rather than mining resources and leaving a derelict and polluted legacy of social ills – as often happens in exhausted mining towns in South Africa – the solar industry has a chance to do things differently in this region. Ndebele concludes: “We are trying to establish the Silicon Valley of CSP power stations that mine the sun. We see this project as a catalyst to support local communities, to grow the CSP sector and to play a vital role in providing practical solutions that deliver on our government’s economic transformation policies and the 2030 National Development Plan.”


Ownership: Public Investment Corporation 20%, Industrial Development Corporation 20%, ACS Cobra Energia and Sener 20%, Emvelo 15%, Hosken Consolidated Investments 10% and the Karoshoek Community Trust 15%. Niroshma Chetty,, 082 605 1098 Engineering design: Sener Ingeniería y Sistemas SA, Siyabonga Mbanjwa,, 084 800 2121 Construction: Dankocom EPC (composed of ACS Cobra and Sener Ingeniería y Sistemas SA) and Emvelo, Gabriel Galan and Ramon Fernandez, and ramon.fernandez@, 082 827 8464 and 082 827 8434 Operation and maintenance: Seratype (composed of ACS Cobra, Sener and Emvelo), Pancho Ndebele,, 074 349 4336 Financing: Standard Bank, Investec, Absa, Nedbank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Vantage GreenX Fund and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Urban planning vision: Dennis Moss Partnership, Dennis Moss,, 021 887 0124

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The 2017 South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) Awards highlighted that greener, more sustainable developments are scooping the property industry’s top accolades. Having received a record 54 entries, the awards recognised 12 outstanding buildings across 15 award categories. NO.5 SILO

© Linley Meavers/Fourth Wall Photography

Featured in earthworks issue 38, the V&A Waterfront’s No.5 Silo won the Overall Green Award and the Commercial Office Development Award. With its impressive 6 Star Green star SA Office Design rating, an Interior rating for the PWC office and an imminent As Built rating, the building boasts ample natural light and ventilation, a roof garden with panoramic views, power generated from solar PV and connection to a district heating and cooling system. Sustainability consultants for this project were Arup, with architectural design by VDMMA and Jacobs Parker.

To view a video of this project, visit © Tristan McLaren Photography

SASOL PLACE Featured in earthworks issue 37, this development was named the Overall Winner, best Corporate Office Development and the best Interior Development. Owned by the Sasol Pension Fund, developed by Alchemy and designed by Paragon Architects with interiors by Paragon Interface, the building has a 5 Star Green star SA Office Design rating, with sustainability consulting by PJC Consulting. The Residential Development Award went to the Sol Plaatje University Residence (see p.106) by Activate Architecture, which also has notable sustainability features with involvement from green consultants PJC Consulting. The Mixed-use Development Award went to Rabie’s Century City Square (see earthworks issue 25), which also features sustainability work by PJC Consulting, and design by Vivid Architects. Getting recognition for the best Innovative Development was the GE Africa Innovation centre (see earthworks issue 34), designed by

Paragon Architects and Aecom as green consultant, project manager, quantity surveyor, mechanical and electrical engineering. The award for Other Development went to the City of Johannesburg Council Chambers (see earthworks issue 34), which received a 5 Star Green Star SA Public and Education Building rating, with sustainability work by WSP, and designed by StudioMAS Architecture. The Overall Transformation Award went to Lords View Industrial Park by the Creative Axis Architects, which features remarkable site rehabilitation initiatives.

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SHINING A LIGHT ON HEALTHCARE The new extension to Vredenburg Hospital sets a precedent for hospital design that creates a unique environment for healing. Plenty of natural light, connections to green spaces, and opening up to views of the town, form the core inspiration for its dynamic design. WO R DS MARY ANNE CONSTABLE IMAGES SUPPLIED

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he unique position of Vredenburg Hospital on a hill overlooking the West Coast town offers picturesque views of the distant mountains. As opposed to conventional hospitals, where the focus is predominantly on creating efficient internal spaces, the new extension to the hospital brings the outside world in through carefully designed skylights and north-facing windows that link visually to open green spaces. Here, both patients and staff are afforded beautiful and comfortable spaces that contribute to creating a positive healing environment.

A PHASED PROJECT Vredenburg Hospital was built in the early 1960s in a relatively suburban area. While some extensions were added over the years, since 2002 the Western Cape Government has undertaken phased upgrades and extensions to cater for the growing needs of the district as a whole. In 2006, Wolff Architects was appointed by the Department of Transport and Public Works to commence Phase 2 of the project. Phase 2 was divided into two portions: 2A – site works, including a guard house and perimeter fencing, staff accommodation and a medical gas bank; and 2B – an administration building, and upgrades to clinical and support services. For the construction of the new buildings, the main challenge was difficulty tapping into the existing mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) service lines, which are extensive for hospital buildings, explains Radinka van der Walt, project architect from Wolff Architects. “We had to create a new service logic for the site as much as we had to create a spatial logic,” she says. A key intervention that helped to rationalise the services was the creation of a ring road around the existing hospital building and the site for the extension. The MEP services were centralised around this route. Heinrich Wolff of Wolff Architects says that conceptually this creates an urban character to the site by enabling spaces on each side of the road where buildings can create an urban edge. The ring road becomes the backbone to which future new

buildings and extensions to the hospital campus can connect. Currently the administration block and the staff residence buildings – comprising 10 single accommodation units centralised around a communal courtyard – are located on the outer edge of the road. The Phase 1 hospital building, which houses wards and the main entrance to the hospital, will be retained but the old hospital behind it has been demolished to make way for the Phase 2B extension. Wolff says it’s often more complex and expensive to renovate existing hospital buildings because they have to be upgraded to comply with changing health regulations and functional operations, and this can be very complex when working within an existing envelope. Van der Walt adds that most of those existing buildings included a lot of asbestos materials (from a time when the negative health effects of asbestos were unknown), which is hazardous to work with. Although the structural material itself is not easily reusable, the Department of Health removed all of the internal fittings before demolition for reuse in other facilities around the province. During Phase 2 it was vital to ensure the existing hospital services remained uninterrupted at all times. This required the provision of some temporary services during construction. The first part of the Phase 2B extension – which comprises an administration building, theatre complex, sterilisation unit, laboratory, mortuary, temporary paediatric unit, and support services (kitchen, cleaning, refuse, laundry) – was completed in May 2017. The second part, which will house a new paediatric unit, rehabilitation unit, bulk stores and registry, is due for completion in early 2019. Once complete, the total accommodation (including the existing hospital) will be 80 beds.

SUPER-FORM VS. SUB-FORM “A hospital is a difficult thing to design,” says Wolff. Over time the internal spaces need to accommodate changes in health technology and patient care practice. “The question you must ask is: What are the fixes? You need to work out what is permanent and what is changeable. The permanent fixes should be where you

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put in your effort. In this instance the roof is a fixed element and is where you can create architectural expression.” Wolff refers to the roof as an autonomous super-form – a physical framework that sets up the building’s spatial organisation. The sub-form below is a series of flexible cellular spaces with non-loadbearing walls that can be adjusted to suit usage requirements without affecting the super-form. Flexibility of internal spaces is essential to accommodate future change, explains Wayne Taylor, project leader from the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works. “As the population in the region expands, there may be a need in future to provide additional bed capacity.” Wolff says that conventionally, hospitals take on the form of one giant roof, with a flat ceiling over a huge footprint. Many hospital buildings take on this form but the new Phase 2B extension takes a different approach. “Hospitals are often overpowered by technical and functional demands”, which means that the MEP services logic usually takes precedence over human needs, such as daylight or views on to gardens rather than service spaces. Multi-storey buildings draw in natural light through the external envelope, which cannot penetrate the deep recesses of the building that usually house the staff and service areas. MEP services are usually placed in the ceilings over corridors, which makes for long, artificially lit interiors, as well as obstruction when maintenance is required.

The new concrete-framed building is structured as a series of modular rectangular bays corresponding in size to a typical ward width. Each bay has cathedral trusses, which house the services, and a roof light at the apex. “What we decided to do is create an order to the primary reticulation of services,” Wolff says. The services are “combed” in a predictable and logical order along the sides of the bays, connecting perpendicularly to a large enclosed mechanical service storey that runs above and alongside the main hospital corridor. The services are rationalised inside the enclosed upper storey and are colour coded for ease of identification and maintenance, adding significantly to the hospital’s efficiency. The services’ rationalisation is a remarkable accomplishment in terms of design as they are out of sight, pushing the needs of the hospital users to the fore. The service zones are expressed externally as yellow boxes that contrast with the zigzag geometry of the roof on the facade.


Location • Vredenburg, Western Cape Site size • 4.9ha Existing building size • 4400m² (over two floors) PHASE 2B: Dates • April 2016 – Feb 2019 Building size • 7000m² (over two floors) Construction budget • R124million

Staff accommodation

Ring road

Phase 2B

Existing hospital (Phase 1)

©Wolff Architects

Administration building

The Phase 2B hospital is pictured above the existing Phase 1 hospital building. The rectangular bays, each with a skylight at the apex, run perpendicular to the service storey (yellow). A ring road runs around the main buildings, creating a backbone for the services and for future extensions to the hospital.

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©Wolff Architects


Above: This cross-section of a typical ward illustrates how the roof lights are divided into two pockets to allow in plenty of natural light, while heat is trapped in the upper section and let out via vents.

LIGHTING THE WAY The running of the MEP services inside the ends of the trusses frees up the centre of the bays for a roof light. Each roof light is divided into two pockets in order to separate light and heat. An outer layer of UV-resistant glass encloses a ventilated space, which allows heat to escape, and reflective aluminium foilcovered baffles are set at an angle that corresponds with the equinox, explains Wolff. Therefore, direct

winter sun is able to enter the building but summer sun is shielded. A bottom layer of perforated acrylic panels softly diffuses the light as it enters the rooms, minimising glare. These roof lights provide 80% daylight autonomy (in summer) to the wards and upper level interior spaces, including the main circulation corridor. Van der Walt says the undulating ceiling above the main corridor breaks the institutional feel of a typical long electrically lit hospital corridor. “Because the ceiling has depth, you don’t realise how long the corridor is,” she says. PJC Consulting modelled the roof lights to test that they would work in accordance with the design – and the result has been successful. Amanda Haarhoff, previously the clerk of works on the site (from 2009 - 2013) says: “Adequate and appropriate exposure to light is critical for the health and well-being of patients as well as

©Wolff Architects

Below: This illustration shows how summer sunlight (the red beam) is refracted by the angle of the mirrors, while winter sunlight enters directly.

Due to the steeply sloping site, the ground floor of the new extension aligns with the first floor of the existing (Phase 1) hospital building. These floors are connected via a bridge. The hospital plant rooms are located in a basement, level with the ground floor of the existing building. Thus, the habitable spaces on the ground floor are able to receive as much natural light as possible through the roof.

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• Roof lights provide a high level of daylight autonomy (80% in summer) • Wards face north and on to green spaces • Energy-efficient light fittings • Flexible floor plan • Use of conventional low-tech materials, manufactured locally • Employment of local contractors and training local labourers • Self-cleaning paint on exterior • Indigenous vegetation


The undulating ceiling above the main corridor breaks the institutional feel of a typical long, electrically lit hospital corridor.

staff in healthcare settings. Natural light should be incorporated into lighting design in healthcare settings, not only because it is beneficial to patients and staff, but also because it is delivered at no cost and in a form that most people prefer.” Savings on electricity expenditure allow more of the hospital’s operational budget to be spent on the facility. This is also important as a response to South Africa’s growing energy crisis. The ward windows face north and overlook landscaping between the original building and the new extension. The layer of green also creates a screen of privacy between the two buildings while allowing in the light. Taylor says: “Studies show that the healing time for patients is accelerated under favourable environmental and salutogenic conditions [conditions that promote patient well-being], and they can be discharged earlier than they would otherwise have been. This allows the hospital to accommodate more patients throughout the year.” The administration building on the east side of the site is freestanding (although connected to the rest of the building via passages), with open plan offices facing on to a raised triangular courtyard. The cellular offices on the outside edge of the plan are stepped slightly back from the external facade to create pockets of green space that shield them from the staff parking lot, which they face. The interior spaces have a warm character due to the use of timber on the staircase and in the selection of office fittings and furniture, as well as warm yellow vinyl floors.

Wolff says unlike conventional hospitals, the backof-house staff spaces are also flooded with plenty of natural light. “I am immensely proud of the kitchen because it's a nice place to work in. Kitchens seldom have a view and some people work there for a lifetime. This one has a window – you can see the mountains.” Economical materials such as brick plastered walls and timber trusses are used but put together in such a way that they appear very sophisticated, Wolff adds. Taylor explains that the contract makes provision for short-term employment and skills training opportunities for locals.

A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE It’s encouraging to see government leading the way in creating a precedent for future hospital design. “Creating healing environments in health facilities is important, and the aim should be to create hospitals that help patients recover faster and help staff do their jobs better,” says Haarhoff. One of the great successes of the new extension is the way the roof facilitates these objectives by bringing natural light into each and every internal space. The result is a uniquely sculpted piece of architecture that functions very efficiently.


Client: Department of Transport and Public Works, Western Cape Government, project leader, Wayne Taylor, Wayne., Previous clerk of works, Amanda Haarhoff, Architect: Wolff Architects,,, 021 422 3803 Engineer (civil and structural): Bergstan South Africa, Stuart Sweeting,, 021 487 4900 Engineer (mechanical and electrical): iX Engineers, Durr Pieters,, 021 912 3000 Current contractor: GVK-SIYA ZAMA, Gareth Rob,, 021 461 6665 Quantity surveyor: Annalie Blokker QS, Annalie Blokker,, 021 975 9076 Landscaping: Gawie Fagan Architects, Gwen Fagan,, 021 424 2470 Environmental consultant: PJCarew Consulting, Paul Carew,,, 021 426 4050

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A CULTURE OF LEARNING The new buildings at Sol Plaatje University were a learning curve for the design team, who spent considerable time adjusting their designs to provide comfortable transitions between the indoor and outdoor environments of each building. The result is a series of buildings that deliver inspiring and comfortable learning spaces. WORDS PE TA BROM IMAGES TRISTAN MCLAREN PHOTOGRAPHY

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major imperative for the design of the new buildings at the Sol Plaatje University (SPU), Kimberley, was that the project have low operational costs, and be as durable and maintenance-free as possible as the university would likely not be able to meet these cost demands over the long term. This brought sustainable design to the fore and influenced the unique character of each building. National Treasury awarded the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) an Infrastructure Delivery Management grant for 16 years (2012-2028) to build two new universities, one of which was SPU. Since August 2013, four existing buildings (two residences, an academic block and an administration block) have been refurbished and four new buildings (two residences - C001 by Activate Architecture and C002 by Savage & Dodd; and two academic buildings - C003 designed by Mashilo Lambrechts Architects, GXY Architects and Wilkinson Architects, and C008 by URBA) have

Location • Kimberley, Northern Cape Project type • University campus Planned enrolment • 7500 students Current enrolment • 1050 students Current number of student beds • 752 Project duration • 2013-2020 Maximum bulk • Four storeys as the standard with allowances of up to eight storeys for an iconic building in an iconic position COMPLETED BUILDINGS: C001: Ground floor retail space, student laundry, common rooms and residences on the upper floors (460 beds). Designed by Activate Architecture. C002: Ground floor retail space, academic offices, dining halls and residences on upper floors (110 beds). Designed by Savage + Dodd. C003: Classrooms, auditoriums, academic and open plan offices, wellness centre and gymnasium. Designed by a joint venture between Mashilo Lambrechts Architects, GXY Architects and Wilkinson Architects. C008: Teaching practice building: standard auditorium and classrooms, specialist teaching practice classrooms and life sciences and physical sciences teaching laboratory, work room and offices for academics. Designed by URBA. CX01: Site infrastructure and external works. Works include all bulk precinct services, electrical supply, IT data supply, stormwater management, potable water supply, potable water storage waste, wastewater management, black water, greywater. Services designed by Aurecon Civil Engineers, landscaping designed by Intersite and precinct services building designed by Activate Architecture. UNDER CONSTRUCTION: C004: Student resource centre and library, designed by Designworkshop sa. C007: Natural sciences laboratory building, designed by Activate Architecture. Planned for completion by 2019. C005: School of Natural and Applied Sciences academic office building, designed by URBA. C006: Applied science laboratory building – architects to be appointed. CX03: External works for building C005. S006: South campus residence (136 beds) – architects to be appointed. SX06: External works to R002. SX08: External works to S006. R001: Third phase refurbishment of Luka Jantjie House – admin block. R002: Refurbishment of JP Hugo residence with 195 beds. R003: Refurbishment of South campus electrical substation. R004: Refurbishment of existing community hall as mixed-use recreational building. SX04: Sports field, including cricket oval, two rugby/soccer fields and seven hard courts for tennis and netball.

Building C003 was not ideally oriented so a brick brise soleil was designed in order to provide a solar screen.

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been added. Two additional buildings are currently under construction – a library and student resources building (C004 by Designworkshop sa), and a natural sciences laboratory (C007 by Activate Architecture). Christine-Anne Paddon, director of physical planning and infrastructure at Sol Plaatje University, says the grant allows for two new buildings per year. “The annual control budget also allows for all site infrastructure, service installations, hard paving and soft landscaping to the perimeter of the completed project. Work will continue on this basis for the next 11 years.” Initially, five architectural firms were appointed for the first phase of development. Reon van der Wiel, COO and principal of Activate Architecture, says the experience was a valuable incubator. “Seeing other people’s buildings being built has allowed us to experience how people approach design.”

GUIDING SUSTAINABILITY Architectural guidelines and standardised material specifications were established to ensure a unified aesthetic. The architectural teams selected Corobrik’s Bergendal light face bricks as one such material,

which now characterises the aesthetic of the new buildings. “What has worked well is a set of architectural guidelines which stipulate the height of the first floor slab, the roofline and a common external brick specification. These three guides provide a uniform appearance without preventing individuality for each building,” says Van der Wiel.

PASSIVE DESIGN RESPONSES With Kimberley’s average summer temperatures exceeding 32ºC and winter nights dropping to 0ºC, designing for occupant comfort requires special attention. Consequently, a design logic of moving from external courtyards through large, naturally ventilated spaces into thermally controlled interiors was developed. Environmental consultants PJCarew Consulting carried out studies to understand the micro-climate associated with different facades and courtyards in order to use the opportunities the conditions presented. Buildings C001, C002 and C003 have used courtyards in different ways and/ or completely externalised corridors to maximise natural ventilation, and have experimented with a range of screens for sun control.

Building C004 will contain the library and student resources centre, and is currently under construction.

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Building C002 links the interior to a courtyard through an externalised corridor. Vertical sunscreens made of colour metal blades provide solar control. The building is mixed use with residences on the top floors, and retail on the ground floor.

Building C003 was not ideally oriented and the Wilkinson Architects team designed a brick brise soleil along the ground floor level, stepping back the facade so that it provides a solar screen. Savage + Dodd Architects designed a vertical sunscreen made of colour metal blades for the east-facing facades and punctured, steel, angled screens and a wind-driven louvre sunscreens for the west-facing facades of building C002. Heather Dodd, principal architect at Savage + Dodd, says: “There is a large cut-out element in the courtyard with a story etched into it to integrate artwork into the building features. We could have specified a standard off-theshelf sunscreen – it would have been easier – but we decided to do the value engineering exercise to prove a bespoke item can be delivered at no extra cost.” Activate Architecture designed the laser cut sunscreen to the street-side canopies of buildings C001 and C002, which depicts the history of the Northern Cape, particularly relating to the Kimberley area. All these designs have a “language” of cut-outs that play with the light moving through them. “Building C003 included designs for open corridors with natural ventilation. This cooled the building in summer but made it too cold in winter, and some of the openings had to be closed off. This proved to be a lesson for building C007, where we are repeating the

Activate Architecture designed the laser cut sunscreen on buildings C001 (pictured) and C002. It depicts the history of the Northern Cape.

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Right: The Tabs system helps to regulate the interior temperature of the buildings and uses less power to do so. Below: Tall, narrow windows, with deep reveals help to shade the glass while providing additional access to daylight in the residences.

SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES • Unified design guidelines and green specifications • Centralised greywater recycling plant • District plant (water and heating) • Thermally Activated Building Systems • Passive design of the building envelope • Naturally ventilated corridors and indoor courtyards • Building performance monitoring (electricity and water) • Efficient lighting (LED and fluorescent) • Artwork integrated with the building features

corridors but adding retreat spaces for the hottest summer days and coldest winter days. We are also orientating it away from the cold south wind and facing it towards the winter sun,” says Van der Wiel. PJCarew Consulting’s facade modelling exercises suggested a deep window reveal that would help to shade the glass. The raised header height provides additional access to daylight, while the deep reveal helps to prevent glare and optimise the glazingto-brick-wall ratio for thermal performance of the envelope. As a result, a number of architects adopted tall, narrow windows with deep reveals in their designs – a solution that will be repeated on C007. Initially, some of the internal courtyards in C003 were designed without roofs but this was changed after it became apparent the courtyards were prone to flooding during rain. Koos Uys, mechanical engineer at Royal HaskoningDHV, who designed the Thermally Activated Building Systems (Tabs), says roofing the internal courtyards also improved the comfort levels inside the building. “Although the internal courtyards aren’t actively heated, they benefit from the heating in the adjacent structure in winter and the opening windows in the roof allow for passive ventilation that is successful in providing enough cooling so that the space is comfortable in summer.”

THERMALLY ACTIVATED BUILDING SYSTEMS Tabs were installed in the first two residences, C001 and C002. These systems involve casting water pipes permanently into the concrete slabs. As hot or cold water is pumped through the pipes, the slab

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structure is heated or cooled. The heavy slab has a high thermal mass, retaining the heat (or cold) and radiating this slowly back into the building throughout the day and night. Uys says this system has several benefits: it runs for 24 hours but uses less energy during peak hours than conventional air-cooling systems; the temperature remains constant during a power cut; and temperature regulation through surface temperature (radiant heat) is more effective than through convection (by air). Because air supply is on a separate system to thermal regulation, laboratories can have heating and cooling while still enjoying fresh air supply; and the number of temperature zones required are less than conventional heating/cooling systems. “A conventional air-cooling system only runs for 12 hours of the day [peak hours], but has a much higher peak energy demand [as the machine has to work harder to cool warm outside air in the heat of the day]. Tabs run for 24 hours, but the peak demand is much flatter. As a system is designed for peak energy capacity, we have found that it is exceeding our expectations for its loading. We thought, for example that we would have to install an additional plant to run building C007, but the original installation is going to handle it,” adds Uys. Secondly, if there is a power cut, the temperature remains more constant. “If a standard system has a power failure, then the effect on the interior building comfort is almost immediate, but with Tabs, because the structure itself is heated or cooled, as opposed to the air, it takes much longer before you notice a temperature change after a power outage,” says Uys. Thirdly, temperature regulation through surface temperature (or radiant heat) is more effective than through convection (by air). The experience of the temperatures of surfaces around us is more readily perceived than air temperatures. Therefore, adjusting the temperature of a surface has a stronger effect on comfort and is a more efficient way of delivering thermal comfort into a given space. “People experience a temperature difference between their bodies and surfaces to a power of four, while the experience of convection temperature differences by degrees is to a power of one,” Uys continues. Fourthly, it is typically difficult to control the temperature inside laboratories because of the requirement for very high fresh air rates. “Heating and cooling the additional fresh air required for laboratories is normally too expensive as the plant has to be sized for the capacity of air that is being

pumped into the building,” Uys says. “Clients normally opt only for the fresh air supply and forgo the temperature control in laboratories, but with Tabs we are heating and cooling the slab, not the air, and because air supply is on a separate system to thermal regulation, the laboratories can have heating and cooling as well.” In terms of the evolution of the design, Uys found that the number of temperature zones required was less than a building with a conventional heating/ cooling system. “We have reduced the number of zones on building C007 and we are hoping to push that even further on building C009 so that we can optimise the system controls,” says Uys. This will simplify building management and reduce costs.

A CENTRAL SOLUTION A district plant has one large centralised heat-pump or chiller that provides the heating and cooling for the HVAC systems (or Tabs) of several buildings. However, such plants are tricky to implement, as ownership, contractual maintenance and associated liability can be difficult to negotiate. Some of the efficiencies that make it viable include a larger pipework diameter and less material cost for the volume of water transported. Uys says: “If you are looking for easy maintenance and simplicity, centralising the plant is a good solution. When a higher specification plant is required, centralising it starts to become economical.” Although a centralised plant was viable for the university, it required high levels of co-operation between the design teams. Paddon credits “close co-operation between the design teams allowing for the sharing of site infrastructure” as a key component of the success of phase one.


Client: Sol Plaatje University, Christine-Ann Paddon, director of physical planning and infrastructure, 053 491 0167 Architect: Activate Architecture, Reon van der Wiel, COO and principal architect, 011 788 8095 Architect: Wilkinson Architects, Chris Wilkinson, principal architect, 012 440 5973 Architect: Savage + Dodd, Heather Dodd, principal architect, 011 782 8188 Landscape architect: Insite Group, Ferdie Haefele, associate landscape architect, 012 667 2780 Environmental engineer: PJCarew Consulting, Paul Carew, director, 021 425 4051 Mechanical engineer: Royal Haskoning DHV, Koos Uys, principal associate, 051 400 7220 Facility manager: Lawrence Blanckenberg, acting director facilities and services, 082 854 1688

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ECOLOGICAL CHAMPIONS To solve current environmental challenges, changes in thinking and approaches are required. The Eco-Logic Awards reward those who see environmental challenges as opportunities to pioneer solutions and achieve sustainable growth.

Judging criteria are based on the virtues of eco-logical thinking, which include: vision; inclusive and holistic perspectives; reconnection with nature; three-dimensional intelligence [intellectual, emotional and intuitive]; ubuntu, or care for community; ethical focus and driving a quality-based approach to consumption; and sustainable long-term thinking. Co-ordinated and hosted by Enviropaedia publisher David Parry-Davies, the 2017 awards were held in Tshwane in June and celebrated the following gold award winners:

relevant wastewater purification systems as well as crossventilation. The low-energy and carbon-dioxide-embodied rammed earth walls have a high thermal mass to keep homes cool in summer and warm in winter, in addition to creating a healthier indoor environment.


This low-cost solar water heating device doubles as an outdoor veranda for low-cost housing. The solar panel provides occupants protection from sun and rain, while the two large diameter pillars supporting the solar veranda serve as storage tanks, complete with taps from which to dispense water. A gutter attached to the veranda collects rainwater, which drains into the pillar tanks.




Through awareness creation, capacity building and mainstreaming wetland conservation, management and overall good practice, this project aims to protect natural wetland ecosystems to enable the supply of ecosystem services. It promotes resilient communities and sustainable local economies in the 11 project municipalities in which it operates. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the project is implemented by ICLEI Africa with support from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Department of Environmental Affairs, and the South African Local Government Association. House Jouissance in Westlake, Cape Town, which features a rammed earth wall by Simply Sustainable owner, and winner of the Eco-Logic Climate Change Award, Paul Marais.


Paul Marais, owner of Simply Sustainable (see earthworks issue 36, House Jouissance), builds and constructs sustainable, low-impact homes. Construction often incorporates rammed earth walls and uses locally harvested materials, resulting in a low ecological footprint. The off-grid structures use solar energy, rainwater collection and numerous

Š Donna Lewis


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Hot Spot is a buoyant geyser sleeve that can be retrofitted on any geyser element to transfer hot water from the bottom to the top of the geyser, giving access to 50ℓ of 50ºC-heated water within 30 minutes. It allows households to operate their geyser as an electric kettle by heating the volume of water needed and making this heated water accessible first, in so doing also saving water. The product reduces energy demand and consumption, and if retrofitted on to the millions of geysers currently on the grid, has the potential to bring about significant cumulative savings.



Reliance is a carbon-neutral company that has taken more than 17million cubic metres of the City of Cape Town’s green garden and park waste, and transformed it into over one million tonnes of organic compost. The company’s composting technology is an approved greenhouse gas emission reduction method that has prevented over 800 000t of CO2 being emitted.



This non-governmental organisation (NGO) and sector development agency works with businesses, investors, academia and government to help unlock the investment potential of green technologies and services. GreenCape has helped facilitate R17billion in investments in renewable energy projects and manufacturing (with 10 000 jobs created from those investments), and the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme has diverted 4360t of waste from landfill, secured R21.1million in economic benefits and created 17 direct permanent jobs and 54 economy-wide jobs. © Supplied Recycling and waste management award winner Reliance Compost’s Tea in the Park venue at the Greenpoint Park.



This team trains women and the youth on cycling safety and competence. Participants are also taught basic bicycle mechanics, giving them the skills to fix their own bicycles and those of family, friends or community members. With these abilities, women and children can overcome the hurdles that often hold them back from embracing cycling as an everyday mode of transport and offer them a vehicle for future employment opportunities.





This free online educational programme is running in 140 schools in South Africa and is a fun, inspiring and educational programme that empowers students to take action on water issues for their schools and communities.

Operational since November 2016, the Atteridgeville Recycling Park (see earthworks issue 33) provides recyclable waste, composting and rubble-crushing facilities, and will ensure the diversion of almost half of the City of Tshwane’s waste. Currently run by New GX Enviro, it represents the first large-scale “build, operate and transfer” project in the waste management sector. Upon completion it will represent an investment of R245million and create some 300 jobs.

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Invented by Nonhlanhla Joye out of a need to feed her family, Umgibe is a climate-smart, resource-efficient gardening innovation using plastic bags on wooden stands to grow vegetables. The organisation now involves about 200 people through cooperatives. The institute trains people to use the system and provides fresh produce growers with previously inaccessible weekly market access. Another cooperative prepares vegetables and packages them for sale to local restaurants and some supermarket groups.

The Umgibe Farming institute trains people to use the system, which uses plastic bags on wooden stands to grow organic vegetables.



Creating advertising banners and using social media to rally support, Charné Blignaut visited schools and organised five local clean-ups to rehabilitate the Dorpspruit River, which flows directly from the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve. Currently busy with her honours in Environmental Management through the University of South Africa (UNISA), she has also volunteered on WESSA Eco-Schools campaigns, helping schools to clear dumpsites and create recycling centres, compost heaps and worm farms made from tyres. Twitter: @charneb11

Eco Youth Award winner Charné Blignaut has organised river clean up operations and volunteered at Eco-Schools campaigns.





Lorraine Jenks advocates responsible management and practices for the public and private sectors. Her environmental journey started with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s, whereafter she returned to South Africa, spending 15 years as group contracts and procurement manager for South Africa’s largest hotel chain. Following that she trained under the United Nations Environment Programme’s eco-labelling project, National Cleaner Production Centre’s cleaner production programme, the Green Building Council South Africa’s Interior rating tool, Green Leaf carbon auditing system and she has become an accredited Climate Reality Leader with former US vice-president and environmental advocate Al Gore. She now manages two online directories assisting with green procurement and consults, and runs workshops throughout Africa to change mindsets and management practices.



Diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and unable to work but still needing to put food on the table, Nonhlanhla Joye started growing vegetables (see Eco-Community Award). After initial success, her farming operation was devastated by invading chickens, which led Joye to create the Umgibe system of suspended vegetable gardens, using ordinary, easily available materials. Through the training institute she now trains schools and cooperatives to use the system.

Geoff Davies is the founder of the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), which urges the church to embrace environmental care and justice as part of its community service. In April 2017, SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa won a High Court victory, challenging the South African government’s nuclear energy procurement processes.

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Part two of earthworks magazine’s focus on agricultural sustainability highlights how farmers are using technology to help them adapt to a changing climate. WORDS M A N DI SMALLHORNE IMAGES ISTOCKPHOTOS, SUPPLIED

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outh Africa’s fruit and nut harvests have both dropped, and livestock production is down 7-9%, according to Agri-SA, but the country is predicted to harvest a record 15.6million tonnes of maize this year, double last year’s harvest. After what Omri van Zyl, Agri-SA CEO, describes as the “worst drought in a hundred years”, this is indicative of the skill, flexibility and innovation of the farming community. “It shows you the buoyancy of this sector,” says van Zyl.


© European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Drought looms large in the minds of farmers, particularly in the Western Cape, which was declared a disaster area by the provincial government in late May 2017. “Drought remains the key challenge,” says Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, “and not only drought, but climate change.” Other critical challenges – such as policy uncertainty around land reform, labour

policies and getting more people involved in farming – pale in comparison. Farmers recognised climate change as a critical factor before other industries caught on, and now the harsh future that was predicted is becoming very real. The cause of the drought for southern and eastern Africa is the eastern Pacific climate phenomenon El Niño, which historically occurred every two to seven years. This would be followed by a rainy La Niña of nine months to two years, with a neutral period in between. However, changes in El Niño’s frequency are afoot. There was a weak El Niño in 2014 and a big one in 2015/16, but after just a few La Niña months dropped welcome rains in the maize-producing summer rainfall areas, South Africa faces a roughly 45% possibility of the return of El Niño around September 2017. This rapid-fire occurrence is precisely what local and international climate scientists have long predicted, and it poses profound challenges to farmers and food security for

Carbon emissions responsible for climate change, can also help agriculture through “carbon fertilisation”, which can enhance photosynthesis in crops such as wheat, rice and soybeans. This map represents the case of beneficial carbon fertilisation processes. In yellow, orange and red, the areas where agriculture will be negatively affected.

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© Dr Mark Gush


CSIR research measures the rate at which water moves up the trunk of the tree, to improve irrigation efficiencies.

the nation. As Sihlobo and Van Zyl both point out, the country needs two to three good rainfall years to recover from a drought. However, that breathing space is unlikely to materialise. For the fruit, wheat and wine farmers of the Western Cape, for example, this means a permanent reduction in rainfall of 23%. This in turn requires a permanent change in farming methods to be able to produce food for a growing population.

WATER FOR LIFE How does one ensure that fruit trees receive enough water for a healthy crop? Dr Mark Gush, leader of the Hydrosciences Research Group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and his colleagues, are working with deciduous fruit farmers in the Western Cape in an effort to improve irrigation efficiencies in orchards by measuring the rate at which water moves up the trunk of the tree (transpiration). The research is garnered through devices embedded in tiny holes drilled into the tree trunk at strategic points. These devices consist of temperature-sensitive thermocouples placed above and below a heater probe. They essentially use a pulse of heat to measure temperature changes in the sap as it flows upwards, allowing quantification of the sap-flow velocity. “This provides incredibly

accurate information on the water-use pattern of the crops throughout the growing season,” Dr Gush says. Taking into account other external factors – such as humidity, temperature, solar radiation, wind speed and the stage of the growing season (transpiration rises rapidly at the beginning of the growing season) – the researchers are able to link orchard water consumption with the weather conditions on any given day so that farmers can provide for those accurately. Providing only the amount of water that each tree actually needs would make a big difference in water use, leading to significant water savings. Using current (conventional) soil moisture monitoring methods to assess how much water is required, roughly 60ℓ per tree per day in a 1000-tree orchard is provided. If instead, for example, it was possible to accurately pinpoint that the tree only needs 40ℓ, 20 000ℓ could be saved a day in each orchard. This system is essentially a research tool. A single stand-alone system (for example, to measure three trees) costs about R50 000, and technical skills and experience are required to run it. However, data gained from completed projects on deciduous fruit (apples and nectarines), citrus, pecans and macadamia nuts is already available. More detailed information on the water consumption of highyielding apple orchards will be widely distributed once the project has been finalised (in March 2018), with some information in the public domain already.

USING OTHER TECHNOLOGIES Other technologies are already helping farmers with water management. In this sphere, South Africa is operating on a similar level to developed countries, says Sihlobo. Dr Gush explains that organisations such as the Water Research Commission (WRC), universities and the CSIR have been using satellite monitoring to estimate total water consumed by agriculture and by specific crops in South Africa, especially irrigated crops. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture also makes satellite-based estimates of the water use of vineyards and orchards available to farmers through a web-based portal entitled “FruitLook”. The wide-scale estimation of water use and land use (and the relationships between them) using Earth observation/satellite imagery projects is a

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form of “water accounting” which leads to better understanding of hydrological processes within catchments, differentiating between beneficial and non-beneficial water use. The data collected, some of which is in the public domain already, will help decision-making around irrigated crops. Even those farming rain-fed crops will benefit from a better understanding of water flow through their land, to plan where to plant. Some farmers and farming services are also using drones for mapping and monitoring. Other technologies for water management include tree tents (enclosures around the base of a fruit tree, within which a micro-sprinkler or dripper is located, to protect water from evaporation). Like many commercial farmers, Western Cape fruit farmer William Pulles uses computerised management and monitoring systems extensively throughout the production process: “All my irrigation is drip irrigation under plastic mulch in order to conserve water. I also irrigate at night when temperatures are lower and use mini-computers to control all the irrigation. Automation of temperature control is essential – there is no other way to do it,” he says. “Automation of irrigation saves a full person’s labour. I used to have one person who just did the irrigation. Now I can use him more beneficially elsewhere and the irrigation is more accurately controlled.” On a large sugarcane farm in KwaZulu-Natal, systems integration company Pylot is piloting a “smart farm”, using new low-power data collection techniques for data collection from soil moisture probes, irrigation systems and rain gauges. “It takes the farmer a couple of hours to get round a massive farm to check rain gauges,” says managing director Trevor Hart Jones. The farm is so big that the gauges show significant differences in recorded levels of precipitation. With level sensors on the gauges sending information to a central collection point, the farmer is able to log

Smart farm management portal from Pylot, which is piloting a smart farm project on a large sugarcane farm in KwaZulu-Natal.

in and call up the data from his office. Sensors on the centre pivot of circular irrigation systems enable distance monitoring of whether the pivot is pumping adequate water or if it’s stuck. Information from soil moisture probes can guide decisions on whether irrigation is necessary. “It costs about R4300 an hour to run a centre pivot irrigation system. If we can save a farmer even three hours a month, that adds up, not only in terms of costs, but also sustainability,” says Hart Jones. Grain farmers combine soil moisture monitoring with computer technology very successfully to “predict growth pattern outcomes and forward contract [sell for a set price at a future time] their crops,” says Van Zyl.

LET THE SUN SHINE What Van Zyl calls “precision farming” is using technology to reduce input costs as far as possible, including the now widely accepted nanotechnology of fertilizers and seeds that are drought-resistant, among other characteristics. “We have some of the best seed and chemical guys in the world here,” he says. Driverless tractors and vehicles that can be programmed to distribute fertiliser with high degrees of accuracy also help to reduce labour costs. Energy is also a targeted input cost. Pulles’ farm is on Eskom’s Ruraflex system, which offers cheap power rates at night: “All systems that are major power users are disabled during peak power cost times and I try and push most energy consumption towards night time,” he says.

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Specialised solutions installed a solar solution on this farm outside of Swellendam.

Workers install a 100kWp grid-tied solar system for a blueberry farm near George.

On many farms across the country, solar has become the go-to source for renewable energy. “We install solar systems for all stages of production on farms,” says Anton Post, solar pumps division manager at Cedar Solar, including water pumps, power for cold rooms and for irrigation systems. One of his clients is the biggest rhino farmer in the country, who runs his entire operation (including critical monitoring and security) on solar. Ray Nolan, distribution support manager at Specialised Solar Systems, has numerous examples of solar installations on farms: “We have been involved in several significant commercial grid-tied solar systems for larger farming operations, such as fruit and nut pack houses, cooling facilities, grain moving and storing operations. The largest of these, so far, has been a 100kW peak solar grid-tied system for a blueberry farm near George that produces fruit for export. This system has been in operation since November 2016, and has significantly reduced the overall energy bill, and has a payback period of only three-and-a-half years. The system has an overall life expectancy of 25 years.” Other clients include a grain, sheep, cattle and dairy farm near Swellendam and a game farm lodge in the Karoo.

SAVING SOIL Water, sun and soil are the trio that birth both crops and livestock, and South Africa still has a lot of work to do in this area. Topsoil is a fertile, living combination of dirt, bacteria, roots and fungi that

provides crucial food for plants. “For every ton of maize produced, we lose two tons of topsoil,” says Dr Hendrik Smith, conservation agriculture facilitator at GrainSA and the Maize Trust. In a country where only 13% of the land can be used for crop production, that is not sustainable. For this, there is a “low-tech” solution, one that draws on both modern science and ancient wisdom (and which is more within the financial reach of an emerging farmer than driverless tractors and drones): conservation agriculture. At its core are three principles, says Dr Smith: n The first is zero tillage (no-till farming) to keep the topsoil intact and avoid erosion. For this, the farmer needs to buy a no-till planter, which makes a small trench in the field into which seeds are dropped with automatic spacing (the planters can also drop in a precisely measured little parcel of fertiliser alongside each seed).

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THE POWER OF WATER Combining the concepts of saving water and organic principles, a new company, Grow Organics Plus has created a virtually closed-system hydroponics farm that can produce tons of vegetables and protein on a very small ground footprint, thanks to its vertical design. The greenhouse farm, monitored by a high-tech computer system, includes fish, chickens and earthworms, all creating nutrients for the tube-based hydroponic vegetables. CEO Dr Frans Swanepoel, who has been working on this mini urban farm for nearly a decade, says thanks to funding from the Eastern Cape premier’s office, the first farm is going into production on the grounds of a local school in Buffalo City. “The farm will supply the community with healthy organically grown food – eggs, chickens, fish and vegetables.”

n The second is permanent organic cover on the field, in the form of crop residues and cover crops that keep the topsoil community safe and flourishing. n The third is diversity. Complex crop rotations and intercropping (growing different crops alongside each other in the same field) are encouraged. This can be integrated with livestock as pasturing cattle and other animals on a field between crops gives the soil a quality feed of manure (and provides another reason to support pastured livestock). This style of soil-conserving agriculture is taking off, says Dr Smith. While uptake is relatively low in the Free State, Mpumalanga and North West at about 20%, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) are higher at 90% and 80% respectively. Outside drought-stricken Kokstad in southern KZN, Piet Bosman has taken conservation agriculture a step further. Bosman applies permaculture design, science and ethics, along with other regenerative agriculture principles, to optimise his mixed farming operations (a mix of crops and livestock). Water is naturally a key focus, and “the best place to store water is within the cell walls of living things, both in and above the soil,” he says. He uses techniques like mulches and swales (low ditches that run along the contour of the land) to slow or stop the flow of water and give it a chance to sink into the living layer of topsoil. Francois du Toit, CEO of the African Conservation Trust, has a current project teaching micro-farmers in KZN these practices, and says within a season there’s a noticeable difference between fields farmed this way and those of neighbouring farms where the practice is not implemented. The neighbouring farmers soon notice the water savings and the crop health, and begin to adopt the same practices.

A shift to conservation agriculture is key to longterm sustainability in the wake of climate change and resultant droughts, says Sihlobo. Farming practices over recent decades have been “feeding the global warming process”, according to Dr Smith. South Africa has lost 50-70% of the carbon in its soil, he says, but healthy soil is an excellent carbon sink. It could offset anything from a third to 70% of carbon emissions if the practice is widely adopted, according to Professor David R Montgomery in his new book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing our soil back to life. As South African farmers adopt “precision farming” technology and soil-building conservation agriculture, they will be pioneering an agricultural industry that is proactively working to limit its impact on the environment.


GrainSA: Omri Van Zyl,,, 082 4175724 CSIR: Dr Mark Gush,,, 021 888 2659 Agbiz: Wandile Sihlobo,,, 012 807 5600 William Pulles:, 023 100 0061 Cedar Solar SA: Anton Post,,, 011 794 4664 Specialized Solar Systems: Ray Nolan,,, 044 878 1126 GrainSA/Maize Trust: Dr Hendrik Smith,,, 012 887 3958 Piet Bosman:,, 071 036 1408 Grow Organic Plus: Dr Frans Swanepoel,,, 010 035 0016 African Conservation Trust: Francois du Toit,, Pylot: Trevor Hart-Jones,,, 031 816 9398

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PERMEABLE STORM WATER INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE NEW SALDANHA BAY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ZONE The days of slapping concrete and asphalt down to construct walkway, driveway or storm water channel may be numbered. Commercial properties, public spaces, and residential developments have upped the standard on what they require from a paved surface. Land restrictions, storm water management, and other environmental regulations have turned the growing housing market and other land developers to seek solutions that can address these issues. In 2013, the Port of Saldanha Bay was earmarked as an important resource for the sustainable growth and development of the West Coast region, and on the 31st October 2013 the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) was officially designated as South Africa’s fifth Special Economic Zone (SEZ). As development took place at the SBIDZ in recent years, the need for effective storm water control arose, especially with new tenants taking up residence this year. Following the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) laid out by the Saldanha Bay Municipality, to address all issues pertaining infrastructure development with a sustainable solution in mind, Power Group, South Africa’s largest family and employeeowned construction company and main contractor on site, stipulated a permeable, environmentally friendly solution. Says Robbie Dreyer, Senior Site Agent, Power Group: “Having considered all options, we eventually settled with the Terracrete block manufactured by Van Dyk Precast in Vredenburg, confident to have found the best solution for the least environmental impact on the area.� The Terracrete permeable paving blocks or “grass paver� blocks encourage water infiltration and prevent rain water runoff, to replenish

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our dwindling ground water reserves. The grass paver is ideal for areas prone to erosion, and the versatile blocks can be used for domestic, industrial, and agricultural applications such as drive ways, parking areas, vehicle tracks, hardstand for trucks and machinery, attenuation ponds, embankment stabilization, to name a few. Installed by Keystar Trading and Cleophas Construction early 2017, the entire area has been supplied with a network of permeable storm water channels that will effectively collect any excess rain water and redirect it to the appropriate culverts, with some of it passing through the large holes in the Terracrete blocks into the sub-terrain water reservoir. This effect encourages low shrubs to take root on the surrounding soil, to reduce wind and water erosion in the area. Many industry experts agree that permeable pavers can offer a good solution to increased storm water run-off. Says Dr SĂśnke Borgwardt, self-employed landscape architect and consulting engineer and leading expert on the subject in Germany: “the use of permeable paving is an important contribution to a sustainable and environmentally useful management of drainage systems. The handling of storm water runoff from sealed traffic areas is made less complicated and more affordable when it is decreased considerably by the application of filterable pavements.â€? This type of infiltration management, he adds, has the added benefit that the already overstressed urban sewer systems are relieved. A further advantage is that secondary drainage measures, such as channels or swales, as well as detention ponds, can be greatly reduced.

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SANDTON’S STREET LEVEL TRANSFORMATION Alice Lane Building 3, a mixed-use development, is the final of three buildings by Abland, subsequently acquired by Redefine Properties, that together form a new urban precinct within Sandton’s CBD. The building received a 4 Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design certification, with the As Built submission underway. WORDS KAREN EICKER PHOTO GR APHY TRISTAN MCLAREN

At the centre of the Sandton CBD, the Alice Lane precinct is within easy walking distance of the Sandton Gautrain station as well as embassies, hotels, and various commercial, retail and leisure amenities. Duanne Render, director at Paragon Architects, says proposals for the site began in the early 2000s, and the first designs were quite conservative, employing conventional construction methods. However, over time a more integrated approach was adopted that included a piazza and a more sensitive urban interface. “The idea was not necessarily to create a big space for exhibitions or a major pedestrian thoroughfare, but rather a calm and intimate space for leisure and recreation,” says Render. “The focus was to tie the buildings together, draw people in and provide quiet places for office workers through the use of elements like artworks and a carefully designed water feature.” Janet Glendinning, development manager at Abland, concurs. “We wanted to create an interactive public space that would offer outdoor areas for the building occupants and bring the city into the precinct. As most spaces in Sandton are closed off with very little pedestrian access, we felt this would be a valuable point of difference – and it has been very successful, bringing another dimension to the

office concept in Sandton and attracting people to rent space in the development.” A single super basement unifies the site, with three entrances off Fredman Drive, 5th Street and Alice Lane respectively, to minimise impact on traffic and optimise internal circulation. Access to the three buildings is through three individual cores, and there are three public access points for the piazza. Karen Marais, director at The Ochre Office, the landscape architects on the project, says: “The core design principle was opening the precinct to the street edge and welcoming users from all directions. Abland wanted the ground level of all three buildings to be an active zone throughout the day and into the evening. There was always a push to ensure that every corner of the precinct was accessible and appealing, and able to accommodate multiple uses.” Deriving from this intention, the key design elements for the piazza were open edges to allow free flow of pedestrian movement; the idea of a gateway announcing entrance into the precinct; an active core with a number of restaurants; fluidity of design, with paths of movement sweeping below the buildings; affordability and practicality, including considerations around security, adaptability of space, maintenance, navigation, structural, drainage, and

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level implications; and an aesthetic that incorporated a common design language, construction-type and materiality while allowing for interest in the design. Three important elements define the visitor’s experience of the piazza – a water feature, artworks and planting. Marais notes: “The site offers a variety of climate zones – some exposed to the sun; some cast in the shadows of the buildings and victim to the wind and chill that is channelled between the structures. The planting palette constantly changes throughout the piazza to accommodate these different climate pockets.” A surface water feature runs from the entrance off Alice Lane, channelling water and creating a line of sight through into the central piazza. The two major artworks installed to date are the gateway sculpture Synapse by Marco Cianfanelli, and the 5th Street staircase by Lorenzo Nassimbeni, both well-known Johannesburg-based artists. Several more locations have been designed and NUTSHELL ALICE LANE DEVELOPMENT engineered centrally Location • Alice Lane, Sandton and around the piazza Budget • R3billion Size • 70 000m2 level to accommodate Total number of occupants • 2300 people additional artworks Number of parking bays • Seven basement that might be levels over the site accommodate 3300 vehicles BUILDING 3 acquired in future. Completion • January 2017 Budget • R1billion Size • 35 000m2 lettable space Number of floors • 19

The 5th Street staircase was designed by Lorenzo Nassimbeni, and is a central attraction in the piazza, which consists of a variety of different climatic zones and features a diverse planting palette in response to that.

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DISTINCTIVE DESIGN Building 1 was designed to accommodate primary tenants Marsh, Standard Bank, Virgin Active, Bloomberg, and Adams & Adams over eight floors. Completed in August 2013, the building holds a 4 Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design certification. Building 2, the home of anchor tenants Sanlam and Santam, accommodates seven office floors and nine parking levels. Completed in 2012, it achieved a 4 Star Green Star SA Office v1 As Built certification in December 2016. Building 3, the tallest and final building to be completed in the precinct in January 2017, comprises offices designed for anchor tenant law firm Bowman Gilfillan, together with retail units. “The concept for Building 3 was an iterative process to satisfy the needs of the primary tenant,” explains Render. “The nature of a law firm dictates a high percentage of cellular office space – in this case 60% – and all offices required windows. The design response was to create two wings, north and south, with a central atrium. In this way, all offices are equally exposed to natural light and views.” The design concept driver was the idea of a crystal. Working with site line analyses and sun studies, the conceptual design used sunlight to generate refined massing (a 3D modelling system used to refine the design to optimise daylight within the building)

The building consists of two wings, north and south, with a central atrium, giving all offices equal exposure to natural light and views.

The concept of a crystal is reinforced by the use of chamfered edges to the facades and contrasting highly reflective glass with rough-cut planes in some places.

and bring light into the central public space. Render says the crystal concept was further developed through the use of chamfered edges to the facades, and by contrasting highly reflective glass with rough-cut planes in some places. The central atrium is the heart of the building and, upon entering, the visitor’s gaze is drawn upwards through a 15-storey-high dramatic internal volume. This, plus the idea of a continuous “racetrack” circulation space tying the two wings together and slick finishes, creates an aweinspiring internal space.

MATERIAL OF CHOICE The design language of a crystal offered the opportunity to showcase the latest in glass technology and

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1 1&2. The main auditorium was

designed to take advantage of the views available, while also allowing for the entire room to be closed off when required. 3. Upon entering the building, the visitor’s gaze is drawn upwards through a 15-storey-high dramatic internal volume.



• Over 80% of the usable area has visual connection to the external environment • High levels of daylight illumination • Lighting power density of under 2W/m2 per 100lux in the usable area • Highly efficient HVAC systems • Water and energy meters connected to a BMS • Water-efficient fittings for all toilets, mixers and showers • Commissioning in line with CIBSE requirements • Over 70% reduction of waste-to-landfill during construction • Drip irrigation for landscaping

provide contrasting experiences of the building during the day and at night. Saint-Gobain’s Cool-lite ST 120 solar control glass was specified to reflect the Gauteng sky, allowing the building’s appearance to change with the weather. A rough-cut effect was created by developing texture through a process that involved millions of dots of different diameters being applied with ceramic paint on the outside of the glass before it was toughened. The effect from the outside, at a distance, is of a rough-cut crystal, while from the inside, the artistic detail of carefully designed dots on transparent glass is apparent. The glass was manufactured to the architects’ very detailed specification, and a painstaking process ensured each individual panel was numbered and installed by Facade Solutions in the right place to create the desired effect. Internally, light, textured and carefully-detailed ceilings – comprising flush plaster, wallpaper, Barrisol and cove lighting – are complemented by the sculptural form of the balustrading, which uses

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both solid and glazed portions. This stands in strong contrast to the scenic lift banks on the north and south facades of the atrium, which take on the form of dark vertical elements finished off with vertical LED lighting on the ends of the lift walls.

ACTIVE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN Dash Coville, sustainability consultant at Solid Green Consulting, says: “Because of the relatively narrow floor plates of the north and south wings, it was possible to give over 80% of the usable area a visual connection to the external environment. The building’s form also provides good levels of daylight for building users, with over 30% of the usable area having a daylight illumination of at least 250lux. Higher efficiency LED lighting also made it possible to design a lighting power density of under 2W/m² per 100lux in the usable area.” To minimise solar heat gain through the floor plates, a high-performance double-glazing was used throughout. Internally, visible glazing was cut to 50%

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by creating a solid spandrel that spans from window sill level through to the ceiling below. David Vince, director at C3 Climate Control Consulting Engineers, says in order to gain efficiencies in both heating and cooling of the building, a four-pipe chilled water air-conditioning system was installed. Air-cooled chillers are located on the roof, with some of the chillers being reversible heat pump units to provide heating – a technology that is up to three times more efficient than traditional electric heating. In addition, air-cooled chillers do not require water-based heat rejection to operate, significantly reducing the building’s water consumption related to air-conditioning. Vince says the in-ceiling fan coil units were fitted with electronically commutated (EC) motors and self-regulating chilled/hot water balancing valves, giving very accurate control of the air and water used to provide air-conditioning – thus increasing overall efficiency of the air-conditioning system and comfort levels to the building occupants.

In the basements, the ventilation systems were fitted with carbon monoxide sensors and variable speed drives, allowing the fans to slow down when the basement’s carbon monoxide levels are low. These upgrades greatly reduce the electrical consumption compared to ventilation systems that run at full speed at all times of the day. Water and energy meters were installed and connected to a building management system (BMS) to support proper management of water and energy consumption. Water-efficient fittings for toilets, taps and showers were installed throughout the building, with drip irrigation to all landscaping on the piazza. In terms of management, a commissioning agent was appointed so that all systems would be installed, commissioned and used in line with Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) commissioning requirements. Tarryn Long, green building co-ordinator at WBHO, confirms that an environmental management plan (EMP) was developed for Building 3, and an

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The roof terrace of the 16th floor provides views of the city, and fresh air for Bowman Gilfillan staff.

internal auditor appointed to ensure environmental compliance during construction. She says: “On this project we targeted 70% reduction of wasteto-landfill. As we were able to recycle a lot of the builder’s rubble that was generated during the construction of the building, we are on track to surpass that figure in our final calculations. We also sent all steel off-cuts for recycling.” As far as operations for the three buildings are concerned, Pieter Strydom, asset manager at Redefine Properties, says: “Much effort went into ensuring that systems were integrated in the building design so that energy is efficiently used and monitored accordingly. The BMS system installed in Buildings 1 and 2 makes detailed information about energy use and water consumption available. The centralised pool of data has improved operational collaboration and contributed to conservation efforts. The system also monitors the performance of the generators and fire safety equipment. “In addition, the waste management system has enabled us to manage waste efficiently and sustainably as well as provide comprehensive audits of the quantities of recyclable materials generated. “Moving forward, we are continuing to work on the best model for green leases where both parties can share the benefits of energy efficiency.”

A LANDMARK DEVELOPMENT The Alice Lane precinct has set a new standard for design in the way that commercial buildings meet the ground and the interaction, at an urban scale, between people and structures. Now that the third of the buildings is complete, the iconic precinct firmly stakes its claim on the Sandton skyline and street level.


Developer: Abland, Janet Glendinning,, 011 510 9990 Owner: Redefine Properties, Pieter Strydom,, 011 283 0000 Architect: Paragon Architects, Duanne Render,, 011 482 3781‎ Structural and civil: L&S Consulting, Kevin van Aardt,, 011 463 4020 Sustainability: Solid Green Consulting, Dashiell Coville and Gavin Westbrook,, 011 447 2797 Mechanical: C3 Climate Control Consulting Engineers, David Vince,, 011 234 3090 Electrical: Taemane Consulting, Corne Momberg,, 011 608 5000 QS: Quanticost Quantity Surveyors, Christiaan Geyer,, 011 705 2505 Landscape architect: The Ochre Office, Karen Marais,, 082 927 1598 Main contractor: WBHO, Lance D’Aguiar, Tarryn Long and Miguel Dos Santos,, 011 321 7200, 011 321 2761 and 083 294 5597 Facade installation: Facade Solutions, Clinton Peters and Paulo da Silva,, 031 569 5024

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Chris Whyte, managing director of Use-It, advocates for circular economic development in the building sector.


et me start by defining a circular economy. Put simply, it emphasises a system level redesign and modification to a regenerative system where resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops. The principles of a circular economy are long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling, which mean that nothing goes to waste. As the world moves from the linear model of “take, make and dispose” to embracing the implementation of a circular economy, industries are starting to realise the economic benefits of this transition as well as the social and environmental benefits. But how is South Africa faring in this regard? Unfortunately, not very well – and this is largely related to geometry and a linear way of thinking. The implementation of circular economic principles requires circular loops in value-chain cycles, and in South Africa, industries (in particular construction) function largely in silos, where flow from one element to the next is still quite a foreign concept. For South Africa to benefit from this global change in geometry to circularity, everyone needs to start understanding the impact of the full value

chain. But how does this relate to the built environment and what are the issues and challenges ahead? Locally, there has been extensive discussion around Innovative Building Technologies (IBTs). To this end, Cabinet adopted a Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) resolution to ensure that by 2017, 60% of all social infrastructure be built with IBTs. However, the fruits of this resolution are yet to be seen. This is largely due to interpretation, and the fact that one overarching resolution is still difficult to penetrate the silo mentality. The interpretation calls for IBTs, but there is also a need to incorporate not only innovative, but also Alternative and Green Building Technologies (ABTs and GBTs). Alternative is not necessarily innovative, and neither of these are necessarily green, but green is always alternative, innovative or both. To give South Africa a chance of meeting the obligations of the resolution, the terminology needs to be unpacked and clearer guidelines provided to drive successful implementation of IBTs. The silos then need to be penetrated, as this effect is compounded by the fact that the building industry has a plethora of statutes, regulations,

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compliance and legislation that do not appear to speak to each other. The industry must deal with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Agrément, the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).There are also SANS 10400 XA codes that are designed for so-called conventional construction methods and not IBTs. Once that has been done, there is still the obstacle of supply chain management and public procurement – neither of which tend to communicate on material specification. I have seen tenders where the call is for IBT construction, but the specification remains a 140mm hollow concrete block, which limits the I, A, or G of BT! At the next step, you have to deal with many architects, builders and developers who are unaware of the alternative options to conventional methods. Finally, the coup de grâce, is when building plans and designs are submitted for approval to a local municipality where officials have limited understanding of any of the above, leading to a forced return to conventional methods and materials for the sake of brevity and sanity.

UNPACKING THE VALUE CHAIN The worst impact of operating in silos is that those working in the industry have been unable to comprehend the full value chain, to make the better choice for the country and the planet. Conventional building methods involve blasting holes in the earth – polluting it with nitrates – to extract rock that requires huge energy resources to crush it into an aggregate. This is transported tens or hundreds of kilometres to a fabrication facility. Sand is mined from rivers, destroying the biodiversity, ecology and stability of that ecosystem, which in turn destroys the water quality in that area. The sand is also transported a great distance to the fabrication facility. Then limestone and clay are mined and heated to 1450°C by burning vast amounts of coal. This process creates the highest embodied-energy binding agent, which is transported long distances again, to mix with the other two products to create a building block or roof tile. IBTs, on the other hand, can reuse thousands of tons of usable plastics, soil and builders’ rubble that would ordinarily clog 50% of city landfills at a cost of hundreds of rands per tonne, creating thousands of new jobs in collection while saving billions of tonnes from landfill. This creates new enterprise development opportunities in the manufacturing of low-carbon building blocks or roof tiles, which are cheaper, stronger and more thermally efficient.

The final market question is always: “What is the price comparison?” There seems to be no value placed on other kinds of costs throughout the value chain, such as environmental impact vs. benefit, local vs. global, carbon footprint, thermal efficiency, or strength – only the actual financial price is emphasised. The frustration is palpable and bitter. South Africans need to start building circularity into value chain thinking and the way the economy is run, and direct procurement spends directed. Building the local economy and creating jobs locally not only has economic benefits, but also embraces environmental restoration and fosters social upliftment. Another example is spending significant amounts of money each year mining or importing sandblasting grit from China, and at the same time spending more money sending thousands of tonnes of bottles and flat glass to landfill because it is simply too expensive to transport to any market that can use it. This waste glass could be transformed into the sand blasting grit required locally. There is an opportunity here to create thousands of jobs in collection, hundreds in processing, and more in marketing and distribution while saving landfill space. This in turn saves money for municipalities, while producing a superior local product at a cheaper price that ultimately benefits the balance of trade deficit. So why are we not doing this? Circles and silos – we are not unpacking the full value chain in our own purchase decisions. It is simply too difficult for us to change to IBTs when we have been using conventional methods since Mom’s pet pterodactyl died. For the benefit of our economy, the environment and the people of this country, we need to change geometry from silos to circles.

Chris Whyte is an esteemed member of the earthworks editorial advisory board and head of Use-It, the waste materials recovery industry programme in eThekwini. Use-It is a multiaward winning non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has facilitated over 2300 jobs in the waste and recycling sector, and identifies opportunities to beneficiate waste and divert it from landfill. Use-It was a finalist in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Circulars awards in the governments, cities and regions category.

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Earthworks August September 2017  

Earthworks, the magazine for a sustainable built environment. Featuring green building and sustainable design and renewable energy projects...

Earthworks August September 2017  

Earthworks, the magazine for a sustainable built environment. Featuring green building and sustainable design and renewable energy projects...