Articles Posted in the Green News category

Two ‘climate friendly’ urban developments for Gauteng

May 21, 2009
Posted in Green News

Artist's impression of the Menlyn Maine 'green' precinct to be built in Pretoria

Artist's impression of the Menlyn Maine 'green' precinct to be built in Pretoria

Two large-scale development projects in Gauteng – one in Johannesburg, one in Pretoria – are part of an international initiative to show that cities can grow in ways that are “climate positive”.

Anyone who drives between Joburg and Pretoria regularly could be forgiven for assuming that someone has decided that no clod of earth should be left unpaved between the two cities. News that moves are afoot to set “compelling environmental and economic examples” among all that concrete comes as something of a relief.

The two “climate positive” projects are Zonk’izizwe, a new town centre which will be situated between Gallagher Estate and Grand Central Airport in Midrand, and Menlyn Maine, which is described as a “mixed-used precinct” in the eastern suburbs of Waterkloof Glen Ext 2 and Menlyn Ext 3, Pretoria.

The projects are among the 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Programme that will strive to reduce the amount of on-site carbon dioxide emissions to below zero and set an example for sustainable urban growth. The global initiative was announced this week by Bill Clinton, the former US president, at a four-day summit to discuss cities and climate change in Seoul, South Korea. The programme is a collaborative effort of the Clinton Climate Initiative and the US Green Building Council.

“As the Earth’s population increases and our cities grow, we need to ensure we have the models in place to sustain our way of life in an increasingly urbanised world,” Clinton said at the launch.

To reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of these projects to below zero, property developers and local governments will agree to look at implementing innovations in building; generating clean energy; waste management; water management; transport; and outdoor lighting systems.

Last year, for the first time, half the world’s population (3.2-billion people) lived in cities, and that figure is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050. Cities occupy just 2 percent of the world’s landmass, yet are responsible for more than two-thirds of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. How cities change and grow is a critical component to tackling the climate crisis.


Artist's impression of Menlyn Maine's high-density residential space. The buildings will have energy and water efficiency systems as well as being connected to a fibreoptic network

Artist's impression of Menlyn Maine's high-density residential space. The buildings will have energy and water efficiency systems and will be connected to a fibreoptic network

The developers describe Menlyn Maine as South Africa’s first “green living precinct”. Built on 135,000 m2 of land, it will have offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, residences and entertainment facilities all within easy walking distance of one another to promote living, working and playing in a centralised area.

It is designed around ease of accessibility, says Anton van Wyk, managing director of Menlyn Maine Investment Holdings. “It removes useless hours spent in traffic, which makes more sense from an environmental perspective, and results in happier and more productive employees and customers.”

The development is also close to the new Gautrain rapid rail link between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

To bring some scenery and a breath of fresh air, parklands will run through the middle of the development, in all 5 700m² will be devoted to indigenous landscaping, say the developers.

The buildings will comply with the Green Star Rating System recently launched by South Africa’s Green Building Council. This means they will incorporate energy efficient systems, locally produced or recycled building products, and water saving appliances (such as low-flush loos), water-efficient irrigation systems and stormwater harvesting.

An added attraction is that Menlyn Maine will have an internal fibreoptic network link to every building in the precinct.

Construction has begun and the first commercial sites are due for completion in late 2010.


The Zonk’izizwe (which means “all nations”) project is part of a high-density, mixed-use development planned around the new Gautrain station in Midrand, to the east of the N1 Ben Schoeman highway. (see map)

The 220-hectare development will be a new town centre between Johannesburg and Pretoria and will include a lake, parks, outdoor shopping, a hotel, museums, an aquarium, themed-adventure experiences, a nightlife village, multiplex cinemas as well as residential, office and retail space.

Sustainable development and “green” architecture feature prominently in the Zonk’izizwe design, with innovations like bio-water recycling/purification and solar power energy contributions, energy efficient strategies and a conservation ethic, says the Development Design Group Inc, the US-based planning, architecture and design group, on its website.

The development also aims to minimise its environmental impact by reducing vehicle-use. Buildings will have access to public transport, bicycle paths, the lake and be within walking distance of basic services.

How green is your office?

August 1, 2008
Posted in Business

Green buildings are healthier to work in, use less energy and water, and are built using materials and techniques that minimise their environmental impact. Although the green building concept is relatively new to us ordinary South Africans, there’s obviously a growing interest. But how do you know whether the Tuscan-style office park-cum-golf course that’s calling itself an “eco”-development really is green?

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has come to the rescue. This week it launched a pilot version of its Green Star SA building rating system to assess “objectively” how green a building really is. The rating system looks at issues such as energy, water, materials and emissions. Then, if they make the grade, buildings will be issued with a Green Star SA Certification – a 4-Star certification for “Best Practice”; a 5-Star Certification for “South African Excellence”; and a 6-Star Certification for “World Leadership”. Read more

Really green architecture

March 23, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

Patrick Blanc’s hanging garden Caixaforum museum, MadridThe extraordinary piece of urban architecture on the right is the Caixa Forum museum in Madrid. The building has been restored and given a two-storey addition made from rusted iron. This is juxtaposed with a stunning 24-metre-high Patrick Blanc vertical garden on one of the walls of the square in front of the building. Read more about it on TreeHugger