Sunday 27 April 2014

Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance Contractor Appointment

Lubbe Construction has been selected as the contractor for the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance. Gauge is the Sustainability Consultant on the project being developed in Hankey in the Eastern Cape. For further details see sustainability

A briefing was held with the Contractor on the design and construction management processes. The sustainability briefing included:
  • Details: Care should be taken to understand and follow the detail of the design. Technologies and layouts used may not be conventional and should be fully understood before construction. Detailed aspects make a difference. For instance, building envelopes needed to be airtight to support passive environmental control, therefore wall and roof junctions and door and window jambs must be carefully constructed to avoid infiltration. Motion sensors needed to be correctly placed to ensure systems are on when required, and off, when not. The Contractor should remain in close contact with designers to ensure that construction matched design requirements.  
  • Local product and materials assessments: Local products and materials are specified for the building. The Contractor therefore needs to carry out an assessment of capacity and quality of local suppliers and manufacturers. Any limitations in capacity and quality should be addressed through interventions and planning. The Contractor should note local procurement requirements and plan for these.
  • Local skills and SMME assessments: Construction should draw on local skills and SMMEs. The Contractor therefore needs to carry out an assessment of local capacity and ensure that appropriate skills and capacity for construction are in place. Project specific and generic training should be in place.
  • Lead-in times: Small local building product manufacturers may not have the capacity to produce materials and components required for the building immediately and may need to gear up to this and stockpile products to ensure that requirements can be met. Similarly, there may not be a readily available local skills of an appropriate quantity and quality to meet the construction programme.  The Contractor should identify lead-in times for materials and skills and account for this in training and procurement planning.
  • Site planning: Additional requirements such as site plant rescue and protection processes, onsite recycling and training will have implications for site set up and planning. Sustainability requirements should be noted and integrated in site planning and establishment.
  • Reporting: A range of reporting requirements are included in the project. These are linked to local materials and products, job creation, SMME support, waste recycling, and training.  Templates provided can be modified if necessary, but effectively systems are expected to be in place and regular reporting will be required as per contract. The Contractor should understand sustainability objectives and related reporting requirements.

Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance Sustainability

Gauge is the sustainability consultant on the Sarah Baartmann Centre of Remembrance being developed in Hankey in the Eastern Cape. The centre will house a museum, a restaurant, education facilities, accommodation for school groups and gardens.  An image of the project, courtesy of Chris Wilkinson Architects, is provided below.

Gauge has worked with the design team to develop designs and specifications which are responsive to local conditions and climate. The building will have the following sustainability characteristics:
  •  Energy: Passive environmental control strategies including night time cooling, the stack effect, rock beds and cross ventilation are used to maintain comfort without mechanical systems. Low energy fittings linked to smart controls are used to minimise energy consumption. An onsite photovoltaic system generates renewable energy. 
  •  Water: Efficient water fittings are specified. Water for irrigation and flushing of WCs will be sourced from a rain water harvesting system and a local river. 
  •  Materials and products: Where possible, local materials and products have been specified. This includes locally crafted sun shading devices, furniture and fittings.
  • Landscaping: Indigenous vegetation on site will be retained, or rescued and replanted. The landscape has been designed to blend with local vegetation and features and walks into the surrounding hills is encouraged through paths.
  •  Local social and economic impacts: Beneficial social and economic impacts such as jobs, training and SMME support will be created through the design and construction processes.
Sustainability integration processes and progress will be described in future posts, including:

Contractor appointment briefing 

Nitrogen Emissions and Demitarian Diets

Nitrogen is widely used as fertilizer in agriculture. This creates a range of negative environmental effects. When this combines with car emissions it produces particulate pollution harmful to humans. Runoff from farmland cause algal blooms in dams and the sea. Nitrous oxide is also produced which is one of the most powerful green house gases.
Much of this nitrogen fertilizer is used to produce feedstock to produce beef. A recent study for the European Union calculated that halving meat and dairy products could lead to a reduction in nitrogen emissions by 25 to 40%. The reduction of meat consumption for environmental reasons has been termed demitarianism.

Demitarianism and a reduction in meat consumption without avoiding meat altogether (vegetarianism) could be an appropriate strategy for areas of Africa where marginal land may support livestock but not crop production. However this reduction will only happen if people are given alternative food consumption and production options.  This has implications for the built environment.

Built environments can support a reduction in meat consumption in a number of ways and this has been developed as criteria within the BEST and SBAT tools. Support can be provided in the following ways:
  • Vegetarian options: Building policies and catering contracts can require that facilities such as restaurants and canteens provide vegetarian options. This can also be extended to favour local products and therefore stimulate the local agriculture and reduce transport impacts.
  • Local production: Urban and site designs can provide for local production of grown food such as vegetables and fruit. This can located areas of the site or on the roof of the building.  If designed appropriately food produced can enhance diets of building occupants and reduce the consumption of meat.
More information:

Friday 11 April 2014 is a South African site that matches journeys of people travelling the same routes enabling rides to be shared. Sometimes referred to as lift clubs, sharing cars increases the number of passengers in a car, reduces traffic and pollution and can lead to very significant savings, as costs for fuel and e-tolls can be split between passengers.

 More information can be found at:

South Africa's 2050 Pathway Calculator

South Africa has developed a 2050 Pathways calculator. This is an interactive online tool that enables users to input levels of technological change in relation to energy demand and supply. The calculator plots demand and supply trajectories to 2050, as indicated in the graphs below. Projected carbon emissions are also show in MtCO2 eq/year.

Sankey diagrams are used to indicator energy flows. This is particularly effective at demonstrating how wasteful electricity generation is currently, with about 50% of electricity generated being lost, as indicated below.

The site works well and different scenarios can be easily and quickly tried. The criteria selected and level messages indicated by the tool however generate a number of questions.

For instance, it is sometimes not clear whether criteria refer to transport or to built environment changes. Setting out criteria under the conventional headings of ‘transport’, ‘built environment’ etc could help clarify this. The wording for levels could also be clearer and it would be useful to have an explanation on the basis and assumptions included in the calculator. For instance, it would be useful to have further clarity / detail on the following:
  • Efficiency Improvement; 'Lever level 1'
  •  Public Services; '25% energy reduction owing to reduced  leaks in water system'. 
  • New Building Code Strength; 'Buildings built after 2030 are 55% more efficient than today'
  • Accronyms; such as CHP, GTL,CCGT and CTL . 
The site also links to a UK version of the calculator where detailed assumptions are provided. It would have been useful to provide this information for the South African calculator and it will be important to include this if the calculator is to stimulate debate and is used as an input into policy. The calculator could also provide a valuable educational tool and as in the UK version, it would useful to link this to an ‘educational pack’ for schools.

South Africa’s 205 pathway calculator can be found at:

UK’s full Excel version of the tool can be downloaded from: