Of more than twenty different types of earth construction techniques, rammed earth has been lauded for its durability, sophisticated environmental performance and striking earthen beauty.
Mid-2016 is the target date for the release of South Africa’s regulation for the energy performance certificates for buildings, which will move the country forward in line with international best practice in energy conservation and monitoring.
Solving South Africa’s devastating water issues, compounded by drought and destruction of wetlands, has fallen to a new generation of engineers who work ecologically with nature, in many cases mimicking natural phenomena like floating wetlands.
Making a leap in waste beneficiation, the mechanical concrete system of road building transforms waste tyres into ‘geo-cylinders’, which function as lateral reinforcement elements and make road construction more affordable, faster and more sustainable.
Water is vital to life, yet it is often taken for granted. Many city dwellers don’t know where their water comes from or where it is disposed of – until something goes wrong. With threats of drought, water restrictions and “watershedding”, it’s worth reflecting on best practice for water management in building design.
Far more potable (drinking quality) water is used in buildings than is needed, highlighting that there is room for water use within buildings to be better managed without compromising creature comforts.
The Eco-mc2 compressed air hydraulic energy storage system could revolutionise energy storage in South Africa. A winner at the WWF Climate Solver Awards earlier this year, a top five finalist in the Eco-Innovation category of this year’s Eco-Logic Awards and a top 10 finalist in the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme, its application is particularly relevant for renewable energy where conventional battery storage is thought to be expensive, bulky and environmentally toxic.
South Africa’s first commercial biogas plant, in Bronkhorstpruit, east of Pretoria, is the product of perseverance, good partnerships and lateral thinking. For over eight years, entrepreneur Sean Thomas, CEO of Bio2Watt, waded through untested waters, eventually setting a precedent for future biogas-to-electricity projects with a 10-year off-take agreement with BMW.
The measure of business success is changing. ‘Innovation darlings’ Uber and Airbnb prove this – a taxi company that owns no vehicles and an accommodation giant that owns no property. Innovation is not always reinventing the wheel. It calls for experience and expertise, and sometimes the biggest disruptions come from fixing a problem or improving something well-established at the right time. Where do we stand in South Africa, and what is the reality for green entrepreneurs in terms of challenges and opportunities?
If the vision for Two Rivers Urban Park is realised, this complex but promising concept will showcase a new, integrated way of building cities.
As South Africa experiences increased pressure in terms of airspace in current landfills, the lengthy time required to license a new landfill, and the types of waste that can legally go to landfill, business opportunities are opening up in the waste economy. To tap into it, we need to see waste as a resource, not an environmental burden.
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