Game changers

The Green Agenda as one of the department’s ‘game changers’

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The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development’s (DID) Green Agenda is about exploring innovative technological ways that are efficient in resources, such as alternative building materials, energy, water, air, carbon emissions etc., and one of the approaches in this journey is biomimicry.

It has always been imperative that the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development actively finds, deploys and invests in cost-effective greening solutions. In the construction of ‘smart green’ and sustainable infrastructure, the department began a process of ensuring that the Gauteng Province immovable assets comply with the Green Agenda.

It is in the context of the above that the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development adopted the Green Agenda as one of its “game changers”. The Green Agenda drives energy efficiency and the use of renewable and clean energy resources, thus, reducing the provincial government’s carbon footprint.

Energy-saving lights retrofitted in institutions

Regular globes and fluorescent lights consume much of the power supply in government buildings, especially in health institutions where the lights are kept on for most of the day and almost half the night. This takes a lot of funds out of the government’s pockets as the cost of electricity goes higher and higher.

The good news is that the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development has been implementing a retrofit programme of energy-saving lights in place of the old, regular ones. This energy efficiency programme covers all Gauteng hospitals, clinics and all the government buildings. The drive behind the initiative was due to the exceeded contractual maximum demand for electricity by each hospital.

The programme includes changing incandescent bulbs to light-emitting diodes (LED) over a period of four years. The advantage is that the LED light bulbs are cost-effective since they are about 80% more energy efficient than other bulbs. They also produce far less heat than regular fluorescent lights.

The programme is in line with the Green Agenda of the Gauteng Province, which seeks to use renewable energy sources. The replacement of lighting systems from inefficient lights to LED in health facilities is now at 81.2% project completion. It has created employment through using local LED manufacturers in Gauteng. The energy billing in GPG facilities is based on estimates and in most instances, the facilities are being overcharged and this is seen as part of the solution to the problem.

The programme is being undertaken by the Chief Directorate responsible for Maintenance. Defective lights are logged to the maintenance team by anyone.

Energy security at Gauteng hospitals is to be powered by the sun

The great worry about the scarcity of energy resources needed to power our public health institutions is granted. But the province is doing something smart and sustainable about it. Engineers are currently at work to convert the rooftops of more than a dozen public hospitals and community health centres in Gauteng into power generation platforms.

“Up there” in our solar system of nine planets revolving around a big star, there is unlimited energy in the rays of the sun that strike our planet Earth every day. But “down here” in our country, South Africa, and our province, Gauteng, there is stiff competition for the scarce energy resources generated from the burning of coal and fuel. Millions of households, industries and, of course, public institutions compete and pay a price for kilowatts of energy per hour generated by power utilities like Eskom and independent power producers.

The coal deposits under the Earth are not unlimited, however, and will run out in the future. So, the challenge is to capture the sun’s energy and then convert it to electricity that will be used to run health facilities and the equipment.

The department is the lead implementer in a pilot project to install solar panels on rooftops of 16 health institutions and connecting them to independent power plants located within the health facilities. This is being done in phases via a public-private partnership that will see the government paying less and less for energy as time proceeds. Project Manager, Rodgers Mabasa, explains that the first phase will be in the form of a cogeneration deployment.

Wastewater recycling at the Motlotlo Primary School in Sebokeng

The scarcity of water in the Gauteng Province, in particular, and South Africa, in general, has given birth to a wastewater recycling project at a school in the community of Sebokeng in the Sedibeng District Municipality. Wastewater from ablution facilities is set to be recycled through a pilot project at the Motlotlo Primary School as part of saving fresh water resources and using them for more hygienic needs.

The project is being implemented through a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) and the Innovation Hub. The outcomes of the pilot project will then be used as a basis to extend the innovation to other places of learning in the province, in the long run.

According to the Project Manager, Livhuwani Muluvhu, the initiative entails the installation of a full-flush toilet system, which is suitable for facilities with and without a water supply. The toilet system does not require fresh water for flushing but recycles the wastewater and uses it for this purpose. The water is also maintained in an environmentally friendly condition through an aerobic system.

Motlotlo Primary School has about 600 learners and has been selected because it has a water shortage and receives a very high water bill. About 50% of the water consumed by the school is used for flushing toilets. When the technology is installed, the payback period will be three months and, thereafter, monthly savings of 50% would be achieved on the water bill.

The project is fully funded by the Innovation Hub and the installation will take about six weeks. It is also expected to contribute to job creation since all equipment and raw materials used on the project are 100% locally manufactured. A contract has also been signed between the Innovation Hub and Ebukhosini Properties with the view to identify a suitable site for the installation of this technology.

Turning waste into energy at four Emfuleni schools

The age-old physical science Law of Conservation says energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be transformed from one form to another. This law has now inspired a new energy innovation in Gauteng.

Organic waste is not going to waste anymore, not when it can be turned into fuel. Instead, it will be fed into a bio-digester that will turn it into fuel that will be used to run facilities at four schools in Emfuleni Municipality.

The project is being done in partnership with SANEDI to get a contractor to install bio-digesters. It will help four schools in Emfuleni by addressing their energy demand. The schools use gas for cooking and home economics classes. The food waste that is produced is the major source of waste fodder for the bio-digester. The fuel produced will significantly help the schools in saving money spent on buying gas.

The project manager Mr Livhuwani Muluvhu says the schools have also been encouraged to start agriculture projects in order to accumulate organic waste and keep the supply constant and secure. The four schools are namely Emmanuel Primary School, Kgomoco Primary School, Lehlasedi Primary School and Seliba Primary School. 

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