Integration, sustainability top Africa’s power agenda

POWER-GEN 2015’s expert advisory board has identified integration of renewable energy into the traditional power ecosystem, universal access to power, and funding and sustainability as key issues to address at Africa’s premier power sector event.
The integration of renewable energy into the traditional power ecosystem, universal access to power and funding and sustainability issues are among the top challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa’s power generation sector in the short-term.
This emerged during a meeting of an expert Advisory Board to assess the most crucial issues facing Africa’s power sector, which will come under discussion at POWER-GEN Africa 2015 in Cape Town in July 2015.
The Advisory Board includes academics, industry body representatives and experts from a number of African countries, with organisations such as the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA,) the Southern African Alternative Energy Association (SAAEA), EskomRenewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission and CEFA Tanzania among its members.
Nigel Blackaby, POWER-GEN Africa Event Director and Conference Director for PennWell’s International Power Group, said across Africa, regulators and utilities were facing similar challenges in terms of sustainability and service delivery. In addition, many were tasked with an integrated power generation and distribution function, which had prompted PennWell to co-locate POWER-GEN Africa with DistribuTECH Africa, to allow the growing numbers of pan-African delegates to attend both events and so make efficient use of their time.
The Advisory Board, which also assessed abstracts submitted ahead of the conference, noted that a number of key themes were coming to the fore in the African power generation sector. One such theme was funding and investment, they said. With Africa seen as potentially the next big market for independent power producers, questions are arising around regulation, best practice and funding models.  In some regions, a cost versus standards debate was emerging as foreign developers entered the African market, they noted.
Renewable energy, which is now seeing strong uptake as the cost of generation drops, is also emerging as a top strategic issue as questions arise around the regulatory environment, integration models and pricing structures, the Board noted. Investors are increasingly looking to projects in Africa, such as the recently-opened 96MW photovoltaic (PV) Jasper Solar Plant near Kimberley, developed by a consortium including Google, and the 160MW Nour 1 thermo-solar plant set to go live in Morocco next year.
Meeting growing power demand through strategies such as the liberalisation of markets, government grants and international development initiatives; as well as new models for controlling the cost of power generation were also important issues the sector is facing.
Other themes impacting the sector now include the interconnection of regional grids and progress towards regional power pools, centralised versus distributed generation models and capacity building in the sector.
The Advisory Board will select papers addressing these and other key issues for presentation at POWER-GEN Africa 2015, where up to 3,000 global thought leaders and stakeholders will convene from 15-17 July 2015 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, under the theme ‘Emerging Opportunities in the World’s Fastest Growing Continent.’
The event, to be hosted by PennWell Corporation, will attract a broad range of delegates, including:

  • Regional electricity distribution companies
  • Power producers
  • Utilities
  • Oil and gas companies
  • Energy and engineering consultants
  • Government and regulators
  • Environmental agencies
  • Development agencies
  • Investors

Source: Cape Business News


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SA offers incentives for hotels to retrofit for disabled

A day after the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an innovative and unique hotel was opened in Cape Town – Park Inn Newlands.The 122-bedroomed, mid-market, three-star hotel is designed and built for universal accessibility for disabled people, and a third of staff members is deaf. The hotel is also 40% owned by DeafSA, which has its offices on the first floor. The balance is evenly split between the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which funded construction, and Meridian Property Holdings, a Cape Town developer. It is operated under the Radisson brand by international hotelier Rezidor.
DeafSA has about 800 000 hearing impaired members countrywide. For it, the hotel is a key broad-based empowerment initiative that has created income generating, skills transfer and employment opportunities for its members. As a shareholder, it will mean the NGO is less reliant on donor funding. Speaking on the sidelines of the opening on the night of 4 December, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom called Park Inn Newlands a “shining example of what is possible” and “an inspiration”.”We will be announcing a programme early next year to give incentives to product owners to retrofit their establishments. Will be starting modestly, targeting only graded establishments, because we will be piloting not only for universal accessibility for disability, but also retrofitting for energy efficiency.”

Raising the bar

“It is a hotel where 30% of the staff is deaf. This kind of raises the bar altogether. It sets kind a new standard, if you’d like,” he said. “It also speaks wonderfully of our tourism sector and adds to the awards we won for responsible tourism at the World Travel Market in London about a month ago.”It is a real shining example of responsible tourism and inclusion, ensuring not only that there is community inclusion but that [the deaf community has] real ownership of the hotel.”Starting on a pilot basis, his department’s incentive programme would support retrofitting of establishments through modest redesign, beginning with assessments of needs.”We have done some of that already, doing a needs assessment of 187 graded establishments in Cape Town and Durban. Of these, 15 were not even compliant with grading requirements. So we must be aware that some establishments don’t have the cash flow to do this retrofitting.”


The pilot phase would show what was possible. “We have approximately 6 000 graded establishments and we can’t reach all of these at once. We have to tailor our programmes to incrementally reach the goal of more efficient energy use and better design. We will announce a more detailed programme in the next two months.”Regarding energy efficiency, the incentive programme would begin in the accommodation sector. “There will be an element of self-selection, if you’d like – serious people who do the right things. Over time, we hope that it will be clearly demonstrably that it makes sense on the economic front.”Regarding universal accessibility, it would extend to other tourism products. “We will, for example, train tour guides in sign language. At the moment we are trying to enhance our tourism offerings and make sure that people with disabilities can enjoy what our country has to offer,” Hanekom said. It would also offer sustainable employment for disabled people. “There are over a million people in South Africa who are extremely hard of hearing or deaf,” said Hanekom. “These people can be described as having a disability; of course, it poses challenges but it ought to be a really limited challenge. There is not a lot I can do that a deaf person can’t do.


“Deaf people could be our leading scientists, engineers, hotel managers, even our minister of tourism. There is very little that deaf people cannot do, and this project demonstrates this in very real terms.”In truth, we must express our pride in what so many people have done to make this project a reality. We must applaud the many people at DeafSA who said, ‘we can do it’, and did something that has not been done anywhere in the world.”His department would showcase the hotel worldwide “because it is inspirational. But it is terribly important that it should be a success story, and a sustainable success story. Because that’s when you say five years later that not only did they do the right things, but they achieved great success when they did the right things.”Park Inn Newlands is built on the premises of the old Bastion of the Deaf, a landmark for the deaf community and the Cape Town offices of DeafSA. The hotel is a landmark project that has been designed to cater for the needs of all disabled people. It welcomed its first guests on 13 October, and in the first six weeks of trading has exceeded projections. It has a staff complement of 92, of whom 28 are deaf.It is close to several sport stadiums and institutions, such as Newlands Cricket Ground, Newlands Rugby Stadium, South African Rugby Union headquarters and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. The University of Cape Town is only a short distance away, as are many office parks and company headquarters.

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Voice Tours Offer Green Tourism Alternative

Responsible tourism is about growing a booming industry and at the same time applying the “handbrake” so that it will remain sustainable, says Jan Hutton of Deloitte South Africa.
Speaking at the Responsible Tourism conference hosted by the City of Cape Town last week, she cautioned: “The travel industry is under attack; for everything from its carbon footprint to its social costs. How do we align our desire to travel in a more thoughtful way with our conscience? We are all aware that tourism has an impact. It can be positive because tourism has benefits of job creation and preserving heritage, but it also has a negative impact on carbon emissions and the trading of wildlife.”
Councillor Roxanne Hoorn, chairwoman of the city’s tourism, events and economic development portfolio committee, agreed.
“Tourism today is facing a period of growth, but with this exciting development comes some challenges. The reality is that the fast-paced expansion of tourism in Cape Town, as well as South Africa as a whole, has often ignored the social, economic and environmental impact on our city and our people.
The city, with VoiceMap and Cape Town Green Map, launched Africa’s first Responsible Green VoiceMap at the conference.
Green Point Urban Park will be the inaugural route, and people will be able to use their smartphones to connect to a “guide” that will explain how a dysfunctional space has become one of the most popular parks in the city.
These voice tours will soon include other attractions such as Khayelitsha Mall, Muizenberg to Kalk Bay and Cape Point.
Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, said a Slave Route walk was also on the cards.
The app can be downloaded on an iPhone from the App Store, by searching for VoiceMap or by visiting on the iPhone. An Android version will be available soon.
Hutton said South Africa was already recognised as a world leader in responsible tourism. And next year, Cape Town will host the International Responsible Tourism Conference with the World Travel Market Africa.
Global travel was changing, with greater emphasis being placed on the “how” and the “why”, rather than the “where”. Travellers no longer wanted to tick items of a travel to-do list. Instead they yearned for “authenticity” and to “get under the skin” of their destinations, she said.
“Responsible tourism is about (creating) better places for people to live in, and better places for people to visit.”
Future travel scenarios included carbon caps for all airlines, with a return to “slow travel” via bike, boat or train.
Samantha Annandale, the general manager of Hotel Verde, said responsible tourism had to move beyond sustainability to “thrivability”. Hotel Verde, “Africa’s greenest hotel” recently scooped the World Responsible Tourism award.
Annandale said: “We’ve decided to show that the rewards outweigh the costs. It’s about doing the right thing. We worked on a concept of ‘thrivability’ as the next logical step of sustainability.
“It’s about actually succeeding – that being sustainable naturally will enable (one to thrive).”
The hotel, located 400m from Cape Town International Airport, has won numerous awards since it opened last year. It lists photovoltaic panels, energy-efficient lighting, natural ventilation, power-generating gym equipment and an eco-pool among its “green” interventions.

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Passive Design Principles: Te Miruniru, Kawakawa, New Zealnd

This design is rooted in the Genius Loci of its locality in New Zealand, overlaying Maori cultural concepts of creation and birth with sound passive design principles. This inspired the womb-like earth banked form, symbolising ‘Whenua’ (meaning both earth and placenta in Maori), and generated the outstanding environmental achievements of the building.
In 2014, the design received a 6 Greenstar Rating (highest possible) from the New Zealand Green Building Council making it one of only three buildings in NZ to receive this accolade, and is the only Greenstar rated early childhood centre in the whole of Australasia. It also won an Innovation Award from the NZ Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and an Excellence Award in Sustainable Design from the NZ Property Council for its dramatic 69% reduction in energy usage and C02 emissions compared to a standard building. All of this is achieved passively without resorting to simply adding PV’s to generate electricity.

  • BIM/IES and other environmental software used to test initial concept designs
  • Passive design oriented to maximise solar gain in winter, eliminate mechanical cooling in summer by exposed thermal mass and PAHS design
  • Classrooms fully daylit requiring zero energy in daytime


  • Over 80% of steel was recycled steel
  • 20% of concrete aggregate and 20% cement replaced by fly-ash waste product
  • Over 70% of construction waste recycled
  • All internal materials were responsibly sourced, featuring eco-label certification and low or zero VOC/formaldehyde


  • IEQ very high – natural ventilation 2.5-6x building code min and low/zero VOC’s
  • Buildings environmental features incorporated into childrens curriculum as teaching aids. Building user guide produced for owner, staff and children
  • Travel schemes implemented resulting in 56% reduction in private car usage
  • Portable water usage reduced to around 80% of standard building type
  • Significant increase in biodiversity due to green roof and native planting


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Sustainable Building of the Year award for 2014 Winner

Many congratulations to Perkins + Will in Canada for their award-winning and exemplary sustainable project: The VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Visitor Centre, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We are delighted to congratulate you as the winner of the WAN Sustainable Building of the Year award for 2014.
The 19,000 sq ft LEED Platinum building is the first to apply for the Living Building Challenge in Canada. Inspired by natural forms and organised into a petal-like floor plan, the project includes the visitors’ centre, café, library, garden shop & outdoor shop, classroom, atria and other flexible spaces such as the ‘flex room’ and the Livingstone Plaza.
We enlisted the help of some of the industry’s top experts on the subject of sustainability to assess the projects and select the winner. The panel consisted of:
– Ann Marie Aguilar: Associate Director at Arup Associates;
– Chris Castle: Main Board Director at EPR Architects;
– Heidi Creighton: Sustainability Consultant;
– Richard Hyams: Founding Director of AStudio.
– Richard Hyams: Founding Director of AStudio.
Reviewing the six finalists to select the overall winner was long debated as the final six projects had each tackled sustainability issues in different ways in accordance to location and materials readily available. Ledanger’s Upcycle House made use of found and reclaimed materials, tackling carbon reduction during construction. The Powerhouse Kjørbo in Oslo, Norway by Snøhetta, meanwhile, uses reclaimed buildings that will give back more energy than they use. The panel members each had their work cut out, but eventually the final choice was between the VanDusen Botanical Garden Centre, the University of Queensland Global Change Institute and 1 Embankment Place.
The jury decided to award the win to Perkins + Will for their outstanding work on the Botanical Garden Visitor Centre. They reached this decision based on their holistic and impressively high building standards for the project, that aims to reach the highest possible accreditations in sustainability. The jurors were also impressed by the centre as a design for the future that can be learnt from and used as a strategy for future sustainable building around the globe.
As is often the case, our panel held a few projects in high esteem and wanted to award the ‘highly commended’ award to two additional projects for their impressive approach to sustainability and interaction with their communities in accordance with locale. Congratulations to:
No 1 Silo in Cape Town, South Africa by V&A Waterfront. This is the first large-scale building in South Africa to be awarded the 6 star rating for ‘design’ from the GBCSA and the first building of any size to be awarded the coveted 6 star rating ‘as built’ by the GBCSA.
– ZCB, Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong, China by Ronald Lu & Partners. Designed to inspire positive change in the public and the industry towards carbon reduction and sustainable living. It is the first zero-carbon building in Hong Kong and the first of its kind globally in a sub-tropical high-rise and high-density context.
– ZCB, Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong, China by Ronald Lu & Partners. Designed to inspire positive change in the public and the industry towards carbon reduction and sustainable living. It is the first zero-carbon building in Hong Kong and the first of its kind globally in a sub-tropical high-rise and high-density context.
Many thanks to everyone who took part and a special thanks to our panel for their expertise and selection.
If you would like to know more about the work talked about here, or any of the other projects entered into this year’s WAN Sustainable Building of the Year award, then visit our website: or contact to find out how you could win a place amongst the best in practice in your specialist field.
Faye Chalmers

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Water Reservoirs as Public Park, Medellin, Colombia

From a multidisciplinary vantage point, this project for a public park in Medellín, Colombia, centers on the creation of spaces around and above a series of water reservoirs. Tracing the site’s history, the architectural form takes its inspiration from the surrounding topography as well as from the structure of the existing tanks and pools, resulting in an intervention with minimal environmental impact. 
Considering the infrastructural use of the site, special attention is given to water management, which utilizes recycling technologies that involve rainwater and grey water harvesting through simple systems for the irrigation of the park. In an interaction between nature and the urban landscape, the park seeks to improve the quality of life in the city.
Construction strategies: The construction technology was based on the use of available local materials and resources within a rationalized construction method, allowing active local knowledge with easy labor training programs, and promoting community participation in low-risk construction activities. The materials favor efficient use of resources, applying alternative building materials for the structure, public space and overall furniture – such as recycled concrete, old tires, concrete pipes and plastic.
Waste management: A waste control program was designed to facilitate and promote selective collection of glass, paper and cardboard to use in recycled arts and crafts projects, increasing environmental awareness within the community. Furthermore, green waste is managed by composting and manual processing.
Water management: The project is conceived from the perspective of rational use of water resources, applying different methods for low water use. This water management program utilizes recycling technologies that involve rainwater and grey water harvesting for gardening purposes through simple treatment systems.
Lighting and energy efficiency: Visual comfort conditions were designed using natural light and the efficient use of energy. Understanding the relationship of the eye to natural light is critical to the perception and production of environmental quality. The energy demand of the project will be reduced by the use of non-conventional energy with an economically viable proposal that produces real benefits. The use of photovoltaic panels, skylights and surfaces that reflect light decreases the operating cost of the building in the medium and long term.
Thermal comfort and energy efficiency: Thermal comfort involves temperature, relative humidity and several factors such as local climatic conditions, cultural clothing and individual activities. The bioclimatic design strategies intend to generate comfort zones within a range of 18 to 25°C with a relative humidity of 20 to 80%. The project was designed with permeable walls throughout the perimeter of the building that allow cross ventilation. The courtyards enable air exchange and the evacuation of hot air by convection. Finally, solar protection is provided by the green roof and eaves overhang, generating shadowed areas that improve indoor comfort conditions.

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Children’s House Project

Children’s House is a project that is founded on an alternative educational model, offering activities that find solutions to the real problems of the population in the San Andrés Payuca rural community, north-east of Puebla, Mexico. Correspondingly, the school’s curriculum includes instruction in agriculture, farming and building construction, in addition to normal course work. The design for the school – arranged by Fundación la Concepción and self-built by the community – proposes the use of cement-reinforced compacted blocks using readily accessible local earth.
The design of the block with tapered corners permits assembly in a variation of curves based on organic principles. The school will double as a cultural center for the community, offering access to a library, the Internet and the school’s sports fields.
The contemporary model of education is teaching people to relinquish their creative capacities at an early age. The project aspires to evolve from what is essentially an industrial model of education to a model that is based more on organic principles. When a child starts school, they work with many colors and materials; by their last year of school, they are left with only a notebook and a pen. When did the line break? That line, the simplest form of expression is the line in time which represents an individual’s life and each step ahead of them. This school is a line that shall be a life story for each child. Children shall follow this line, which will transcend dimensions and become a wall; after it has traveled a certain way, it will in a sense become space to travel through life that will never restrain you, but will protect you and show you the way.
Progress: Kokokali is a compound word derived from the Nahuatl kokone (children) and kali (house). The project proposes the use of a block especially-designed for this school. This block is a systematic module that is very easy to elaborate. The cinder blocks are fabricated using a mix of concrete, sand and readily-accessible local earth. The design of the block consists of making a minimum variation in curves with different angles for its use on different locations and spatial conditions.
People: The school aims to change the paradigm of education in Mexico’s rural communities, and seeks the participation of all parties involved – from the federal government, to the people in the community. It focuses on the profile of the population, offering activities that find solutions to the real problems of the area. In this school that will be self-built by the community, students will learn about agriculture, farming and building techniques – in addition to the official curriculum.
Planet: The hydrologic design and planning of this school uses passive and highly-efficient mechanisms to connect different uses of water in the local context, maximizing its use and honoring the environment.
Prosperity: The construction of Kokokali will be financed through donations, in addition to support from the government. The school will be economically sustainable. A proportion of the students’ activities in agriculture, livestock management, hydroponics and construction will generate profits ensuring financial viability.
Place: By using the curved block, Kokokali becomes a dynamic non-hierarchical space, which allows flexibility in the program. It responds to the need for a space of equality and trust, this virtue is magnified by classrooms that connect either to indoor gardens or the main square.

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4 Green Star R1.3bn Newtown Junction Opens

The 85000m² Newtown Junction development includes a 38000m² shopping centre, some 39000m² of prime office space, a gym and basement parking for 2400 cars. Construction on another key component of the development – a 148-room City Lodge hotel that will span 8000m² – began this month and will be complete at the end of 2015.
Attacq and Atterbury Property Developments (APD) are 50/50 joint shareholders of the Newtown Junction development. However, through Attacq’s 25% shareholding in APD, Attacq has an effective 62.5% shareholding. The landmark project in the heart of Newtown and flanked by the Market Theatre and right next to the M1 Motorway, has strong support from the Joburg Property Company (JPC).
A major part of the office component has been taken up by Nedbank for its Newtown Campus, which is nearing completion and on track to achieve a 4 Green Star SA rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa. On the shopping centre side, leading companies and brands that have secured space at Newtown Junction, include Pick n Pay, Ster-Kinekor, Truworths, the Foschini Group, Mr Price, Busboys & Poets, Life Grand Cafe and Shoprite amongst others. The gym will be operated by Planet Fitness.
Morne Wilken, CEO of Attacq comments: “We are proud to be investing in the Newtown Junction project, which is one of the most exciting developments in the Johannesburg CBD. In addition to the development being located in the vibrant and historic Newtown precinct, it is part of an urban regeneration effort with the city council.”
Construction commenced in October 2012, and despite the recent construction industry strikes that caused delays, James Ehlers, Managing Director of Atterbury Property Developments, says the Newtown Junction shopping centre is on track to open on 25 September 2014.
“The development is anchored by its retail component and will benefit from the offices as well the leisure and lifestyle elements of the gym and hotel. It’s an enhanced and safe mixed-use node within Newtown. This project was originally meant to be just a shopping centre development, but it changed at the onset into a groundbreaking mixed-use development in partnership with the city and the South African Heritage Resources Agency,” Ehlers adds.
The developers were conscious of the rich heritage value of the site, and with the support of the South African Heritage Resources Agency, have retained some of the old structures. For example, the 100 year old “Potato Shed” structure was taken off site when Newtown Junction’s multi-level basement was being constructed and the sheds were placed back in the exact position.
“Although not confirmed, it is believed that Newtown Junction is the biggest private development in the Johannesburg CBD since the Carlton Centre was constructed in the 70’s. The Johannesburg city council being the owner of the land has played a big role in this development, ensuring that it is completed successfully and that the economic targets of the City are met during the process,” says Wilken.
Newtown Junction’s development has to date created around 2700 jobs during construction alone, of which 850 were jobs for local unemployed people. During the operational phase it is estimated that there will be around 4800 people working in Newtown Junction.

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