Author: Earthworks

Deciphering Desalination

As conventional water resources are strained to meet the growing national demand desalination is increasingly being explored as an alternative. Severe drought in the Southern Cape between 2009 and 2011 fast-tracked the successful development of small municipal desalination plants to remove salt from seawater along the Garden Route. But to date, no large-scale desalination plants have been developed, largely due to high capital and operating costs. The evolution of technology and cost improvements are, however, positioning desalination as a strong future contender for South African coastal cities. Desalinated seawater currently costs between R14 and R15 per kilolitre, with energy...

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Power Struggle – Nuclear vs Renewables

To encourage a broad understanding of comparisons between nuclear and renewable energy generation options, it is important to review the basics. The key difference between nuclear power and renewable energy options is that nuclear uses highly concentrated energy, the release of which must be extremely carefully managed. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is dispersed and requires infrastructure to collect. This has led to a widespread perception that renewable energy is insufficient to support industrialised society, regardless of the actual extent of the resource potential, which far exceeds what humans could use. A study of the availability of solar...

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Multi-functional roofs

From solar panels and rainwater collection to wind power and rooftop gardens, roofs are steadily becoming more than just a shelter from the elements. Harnessing the elements and putting them to functional use, a roof is now an essential, integrated part of how homes and businesses function in the long term, and a platform for an off-grid solution. Today roofs take on many shapes and sizes, and can be made from virtually any material. For many years the specific choice of roof materials and forms were dictated by the materials available at the time, and as such roofs are...

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Driving the change – Dorah Modise

There is a new captain in the driver’s seat at the Green Building Council South Africa. With her impressive track record, Dorah Modise brings tremendous experience and a fresh perspective to navigate the changing landscape ahead. Modise does not sit comfortably in a repetitive routine – she wants to be part of the action. She is a driver of change and her focus is now set on shifting things up a gear in South Africa’s green building industry. As the new CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), she emphasises that the organisation’s top priority is its...

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Beyond Buildings: Street level thinking in Braamfontein

New and proposed developments to the east of Braamfontein in Johannesburg are attracting investment and residents. Two major routes form the focus of Braamfontein’s new energy. The first is the highly-anticipated north-south connection along Rissik Street between Park Station and its related transport activities, and the planned future Metro Centre Precinct. The second is the proposed pedestrianisation of Juta Street, from its eastern point adjacent to the M1 freeway through to Rissik. Public and private sector visions for Braamfontein’s public realm, which has been evolving for almost a decade, informed the current work on both routes. The first of...

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