Green building

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Mary Haw

Energy efficiency and renewable energy facilitation manager
City of Cape Town

The My Clean Green Home project came about through the realisation that buildings present a significant opportunity to lower carbon emissions; they consume almost a quarter of Cape Town’s total energy and are responsible for the largest proportion of its total carbon emissions.

“In partnership with the Green Building Council of South Africa, we wanted to create an opportunity to engage with students and professionals of the built environment to challenge them to create a model home that demonstrates the sustainable design principles, technologies and behaviours that create a net zero carbon home,” says Mary Haw. The objective was to create a life-size, physical interactive experience for the public to see for themselves that a net zero carbon home and living sustainably is not only feasible, but also accessible.

About 20 teams of architects, students and professionals submitted their own take on the net zero carbon brief, incorporating elements of spatial efficiency, daylighting and ventilation, renewable energy, material choices and water efficiency. The winning design from Team Mahali was particularly impressive because of their incorporation of reused and upcycled materials. Two shipping containers are used for the main living areas, and the encompassing shading structure is made out of recycled wooden pallets — both of which are readily available in Cape Town.

“I am most proud when witnessing the epiphany on visitors’ faces when they engage with My Clean Green Home and say, ‘oh wow, I can do this in my home’,” Haw says.

The My Clean Green Home exhibit is now permanently based in Green Point Urban Park.

“We wanted to create an opportunity to engage with students and professionals of the built environment, to challenge them to create a model home that demonstrates the sustainable design principles, technologies and behaviours that create a net zero carbon home.”

Neo Khanyile | mg.co.za
The Ridge

The Ridge

The V&A Waterfront

The Ridge is the V&A Waterfront’s third six-star Green Star-rated building. The new building was designed to meet and exceed the accommodation requirements of global consulting giant, Deloitte, which has commissioned the building for its Cape Town regional office.

This landmark building consists of progressive design elements customised to house its occupants in a productive, sustainable and energy-efficient manner.

It was designed to reduce building energy and water consumption on an ongoing basis. The developers achieved this by incorporating features such as natural ventilation, a thermally activated building structure (TABS) and displacement ventilation.

“Every time we build, we want to do it sustainably — The Ridge has been designed as a world-class living, breathing building,” says Mark Noble, project leader and development director at the V&A Waterfront.

With TABS operational, the building has the potential to naturally ventilate for up to 85% of the year, resulting in a direct saving in air-conditioning operating energy.

Another standout feature of The Ridge is the “zigzag” exterior. This is the first instance where cross-laminated timber (CLT) has been used in the façade of a commercial building in South Africa. Far from being a whimsical design feature, the purpose of the timber zigzag is to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Timber, including CLT, has a substantially lower energy and carbon footprint than any of the other traditional cladding systems, including aluminium, glass and concrete.

The Ridge used an estimated 12 000 “ecobricks”. These are plastic waste-filled bottles — specifically the two-litre cool drink type bottles — used as void forming materials for non-load-bearing concrete elements. The downstream environmental and carbon-reduction considerations of this action are significant.

Energy performance was fully integrated into The Ridge building’s design, which maximises natural light and ventilation, and manages water and waste resources efficiently.

Neo Khanyile | mg.co.za
Marloes Reinink, 42

Marloes Reinink, 42

Founder
Solid Green Consulting

Reinink is the founder of Solid Green, a successful green building consultancy that’s been involved in the Green Star certification of more than 130 buildings. She came to South Africa as an exchange student at the University of Pretoria in 2002 and returned for her master’s one year later. “I focused on sustainable school buildings in rural areas, in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on 11 schools across the country,” she says. “I moved back to South Africa permanently in 2005 to work for the CSIR and enrolled for another master’s at Wits concerning energy efficiency labelling programmes for commercial buildings.”

In 2007, she joined Green by Design and in 2008, along with the Green Building Council of South Africa, worked on the first Green Star ratings in South Africa. She founded Solid Green in 2010, which now has a team of 17.

Reinink is also involved in the Living Building Challenge, the most aspirational certification for sustainable building. About 105% of the buildings’ annual energy consumption is generated on-site. They’re also net water, meaning they use rainwater, and wastewater is treated and reused.

She enjoys motivating the youth: “I teamed up with Michelle Ludwig to start a company called GreenED, in which we develop online content and courses that teach people in the industry about sustainability. We try to make it practical and interesting so the learning becomes fun and easy to apply. All our courses are freely available on our website.”

Marloes Reinink is involved in the Living Building Challenge, the most aspirational certification for sustainable building. About 105% of the buildings’ annual energy consumption is generated on site. They’re also net water, meaning they use rainwater, and wastewater is treated and reused.

Buntu Ngcuka | mg.co.za
Georgina Smit, 39

Georgina Smit, 39

Technical specialist, market transformation strategist and head of GBCSA training, certification and research
Green Building Council South Africa

Georgina Smit is a technical specialist, market transformation strategist and head of training, certification and research at Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA).

GBCSA is determined to transform South Africa’s built environment into a place where people and the planet thrive. They are currently achieving this through certification of buildings, training of people, collaborations to further research and advocacy to raise awareness of green building and broader climate change issues.

GBCSA is part of the World Green Building Council (WGBC) Advancing Net Zero programme, which supports and advocates for ambitious CO2 emissions target reductions. Smit says: “Our aim is to have all new buildings designed for net zero carbon by 2030, and we are aiming to have all buildings be net zero carbon by 2050 — no small task!”

The built environment accounts for approximately a third of all global carbon emissions. “While it is a part of the problem, it is also a huge opportunity as a solution,” says Smit. Green building makes use of available designs to address a wide range of environmental issues, including carbon emissions, water saving, responsible material procurement, improved indoor quality and protection of biodiversity. When designed correctly, green buildings can significantly reduce environmental impacts and in some cases even mitigate the impact to create a net zero effect.

For Smit, greening the future means making green buildings accessible to all types of sectors and building users in South Africa. “This involves increasing the understanding among South Africans of why green buildings are good for your health and the wellbeing of the environment, and make financial sense.” The organisation has integrated a strong training component into its projects, which helps to develop the sector and upskill built environment professionals.

GBCSA strives for a world in which both people and the planet thrive.

Alexandra van Nieuwenhuizen | mg.co.za
Rest Kanju, 43

Rest Kanju, 43

Executive director
Indalo Inclusive

Rest Kanju is the executive director and head of operations for Indalo Inclusive, an NPO created with the goal of supporting ecofriendly and sustainable entrepreneurship in South Africa. In isiZulu, Indalo can be translated as either “creation” or “nature”. The organisation specialises in the strengthening of eco-inclusive entrepreneurship, providing a platform for young business people eager to solve the unprecedented challenges that the climate crisis presents. Through its Climate Launchpad Competition, Indalo gives young cleantech entrepreneurs opportunities to start their own businesses.

Kanju was born in Bushbuckridge in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, where he began his work in the green space at Magwagwaza High School. As a pioneer of the environmental movement within his community, he established eco-clubs at several schools in his town prior to 1994. His expertise has guided Indalo since its founding in 2017; it has incubated 83 eco-inclusive start-ups to date.

Indalo has trained 50 entrepreneurs within rural communities since its establishment, helping them create solutions that work for their own communities. These “Indalopreneurs” are economic actors who put positive environmental and societal impact first.

Indalo Inclusive is a collaborative effort. Outside of its own team, it has partnered with South African brands such as Nedbank and Old Mutual, and government and international bodies, including the department of forestry, fisheries and environment and the UN Environment Programme. These bonds have helped the organisation to create the foundation for a truly inclusive green economy within the country, one where environmental and social effects are measured equally, if not above, economic impact. Indalo Inclusive and Rest Kanju are helping to ensure South Africa’s natural spoils are supported as our nation’s economy blooms.

By supporting young eco-entrepreneurs, Rest Kanju is creating a more inclusive economy with a focus on sustainability.

James Nash | mg.co.za
Steve Brookes, 56

Steve Brookes, 56

Founder and chief executive
Balwin Properties

In 1996, Steve Brookes founded Balwin Properties in Johannesburg. Twenty-five years later, Balwin Properties owns, sells and rents property across the country. “When you turn 18, getting your first car is important. At 21 you get the keys to your first property and start your journey through life. My latest journey has been becoming a grandfather,” Brookes says, “and it’s made me realise that the generational wealth of this country is in sustainability.”

Today, Brookes is a board member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) — one of 75 councils that form part of the World Green Building Council. The GBCSA issues the internationally recognised certification, Edge (excellence in design for greater efficiencies), which sets sustainable building standards such as water and energy consumption reduction. Apart from promoting green building and architecture, the GBCSA also provides training in green building techniques, offering courses and webinars.

“When I started at Balwin, we were driven by financial security. We now want to be known as the most environmentally friendly development company in the world,” Brookes explains. He believes that it is “fundamental” that our homes should enable us to live in harmony with the environment around us, and his beliefs on sustainability are evident in Balwin’s practices. It is mandatory for all new properties to receive an Edge certificate and Balwin has negotiated with banks to provide preferential home loan rates to those whose homes are Edge certified.

Brookes has imbued his company with an identity that has made it a fixture in South Africa’s green economy. “There is no difference between how I view sustainability personally and professionally — if you are passionate about it, it makes no difference. What we do with my family is exactly in line with what we are doing at Balwin,” Brookes says.

 

“When I started at Balwin, we were driven by financial security. We now want to be known as the most environmentally friendly development company in the world.”

Nabeel Allie | mg.co.za