Australia has contributed funds towards an innovative green street project in South Africa in deference to the United Nations’ 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban. The climate change conference started on 28 November and will run until 9 December 2011.
The project involved ‘greening’ an entire street in a disadvantaged South African community. The Green Building Council of South Africa and the World Green Building Council took the lead on the Cato Manor project, supported by funds from the Australian Federal Government, facilitated by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
“This project involves retrofitting an entire street with green building technologies such as solar hot water systems and rainwater collection tanks,” said Romilly Madew, chief executive of the GBCA.
“The project demonstrates that green building practices are affordable and achievable in developing nations and can provide long-term environmental, economic and social benefits. We applaud the Australian Government for supporting the initiative with joint funding from AusAid and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.”
Each house in the street will be retrofitted with a solar water heater, efficient lighting and roof insulation. Rainwater harvesting systems will enable better water and food security, while fruit trees are
being complemented with indigenous trees for shade and biodiversity.
The project team also installed heat-insulation cookers in each home. In developing countries, the health benefits of investment in technologies and appliances for heating and cooking directly result in better health outcomes.
“Monitoring and evaluation of energy, resources and dollars saved by the project will enable us to determine how to proceed with future retrofit programs in developing countries,” said Madew. “Green building practices can be affordable and deliver on a range of priorities to help people decrease their living costs, improve health and wellbeing, gain valuable job skills and work opportunities, not to mention reduce their impact on the environment.”
The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that the uptake of green buildings in developing economies could help reduce the estimated 11 percent of human deaths resulting from poor indoor air quality each year.