Other Features


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.

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Power Struggle – Understanding SA’s nuclear and renewable energy options

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 and wind resources in South Africa by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shows how the country could supply double its current electricity use from wind and solar power.

A difference that receives a lot of attention is that renewable resources are variable, with availability at any particular time depending on the weather, while a nuclear power plant is ‘inflexible’, being designed to run continuously.

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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.

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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.

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Innovation in public spaces

Urbanist Rashiq Fataar from Our Future Cities explores how cities can move towards environments that promote real innovation in public spaces.

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UCT Water

UCT Water Research Unit

A new water research unit at the University of Cape Town aims to help create a sustainable water future.

South Africa is ranked as the 30th driest country in the world, according to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Projections noted in National Treasury’s 2012 Budget Review are concerning and show that by 2030 the demand for water in the country will outstrip the ability to supply it. The reality of water shortages hit home more recently as the ongoing drought wreaks havoc across the country. It is therefore essential to find new, innovative and scalable solutions to ensure water security into the future.

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Healthy gains – new Well Building Standard explained


The new WELL building standard guides the way towards supporting employee wellbeing and shows how workplaces can improve health and wellbeing. Investing in the health of employees can yield a valuable return on investment since employee salaries are a significant cost of doing business.

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Fundamentals of Design – Insulation

The use of insulation in South African buildings was not very high until five years ago, when new building regulations forced the building industry to take a closer look at it. Although producing materials that serve a sustainable purpose, insulation manufacturers could do more to incorporate sustainability into their overall operations.

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Back to basics: Waste-to-liquid fuel


Pyrolysis, a process that converts hydrocarbon products like waste plastic and tyres back to their roots of liquid fuel, is a potential solution to reduce waste to landfill. earthworks looks at Japanese technology being tested locally and a homegrown company ready to enter the market.

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Climatic Maps-nontext5

New tools for climate appropriate design


Climatic region maps are key to efficient passive building design. Two recent innovations redefine and update existing climatic maps for South Africa, and provide support for design using innovative building technologies.

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