SI Projects Update

Home » News » SI Projects Update

The last few months have been a busy time at the Sustainability Institute, and we have – and still are – running a number of exciting and important projects.  A short description of various is given below.


Cordaid / UCAL Berkeley Funded Projects: October 2006 – current

Energy Efficiency Office within the Cape Town Partnership (CTP):  Cordaid provided 2 years’ funding to assist the CPT in promoting energy efficiency in CBD offices.  This has become increasingly important with the present energy crisis in South Africa.  An energy efficiency office has been established within the CTP and outcomes to date have included energy audits for key buildings within the City of Cape Town, as well as advocating  energy  in partnership with the CCT and various Cape Town businesses.

Energy retrofits for selected buildings are set to occur in 2008. One of the initial project concepts was to capture savings from audited and retrofitted buildings, and plug these savings into poverty alleviation/job creation schemes within the CCT.  The complexity of building ownership and management  is one of the factors has made this output quite a complicated one to achieve.  Within the CCT, many building owners do not occupy the buildings  or manage the utility systems within the building. They often hand these services over to intermediaries who provide services and billing systems (for a fee and a profit), therefore energy efficiency is not in their interest.   In tenanted buildings, tenants often pay the utility bills themselves. In cases like this, building owners do not  necessarily have an incentive to “capture savings.”

The Sustainability Institute has also identified a highly experienced CT-based ESCO that can be sub-contracted as the CTP’s “preferred service provider” with respect to building audits and retrofits. This ESCO would provide the technical capacity for audits and retrofits. A percentage of the implementation costs of the retrofits will provide the revenue stream for the project management and marketing efforts required. The first goal is financial sustainability for the project itself. If there is a surplus, this would go toward poverty alleviation projects.  The CPT would continue to promote energy efficiency to its members by sanctioning the direct dealing with the chosen ESCO who will handle implementation.  In addition, arrangements are being made with Eskom (SA energy provider) to fast-track any application for DSM funding that may come through the CTP.  The Sustainability Institute is currently identifying  potential ESCO’s and financial implementation models.

Going forward, there has been a call from the CTP to establish a full-time Sustainable Development office within the partnership which could address and advise on broader sustainable development issues on an ongoing basis.

Capacity Building for Sustainable Neighbourhoods:
  Following on work previously done for Cordaid, this project seeks to further develop the idea of socially mixed Sustainable Neighbourhoods, with a special focus on sustainable energy, water and waste systems and sustainable resource use in low-income communities. The Sustainability Institute has been working with the Community Organisation Resources Centre (CORC) and the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and designers to  include better passive solar and window design, insulation, solar heating options, and alternative wastewater treatment systems in housing design, using a sustainable neighbourhood approach.

Oude Molen
Oude Molen (Pinelands) is an emerging ecological village owned by the Western Cape Provincial Government. The Sustainability Institute has been designated as project manager for this site, and has been  tasked to facilitate a social and professional process  which  aims to design and build  a more sustainable village.  The scoping and EIA processes are nearing completion with final report due in August 2008.  National Treasury has agreed to provide financial assistance through the City of Cape Town (CCT) for the development.  However the Department of Public Works (DPW) have motivated for control of the funding and project and have committed to take the project to the point where development/zoning applications can be submitted to the CCT.

Revised budgets for the next period have been submitted and urban designs and architectural concepts are currently underway. Oude Molen is now in the final planning process (expected to be completed by September 2008). The aim is to submit the final development/zoning application, with follow up actions to CCT,  in September 2008 for  approval. The goal for commencement of construction is second quarter,  2009.

Discussions have also begun with a developer and private sector consortium in order to build a business case for the integrated sustainable neighbourhood development.  One suggested strategy: to transfer the property into a non-profit trust that that will become the developer of the land, using the property as security. Legal and financial aspects around this strategy have been initiated.

The Philippi Business Place is located at an old cement factory site which is zoned for commercial development.  It is owned by a Section 21 (not-for-profit) organization with PBO status.  Key funders to date include Investec and BAT with further contributions from Pick N Pay, Cordaid,  the Development Bank of Southern Africa, University of California Berkeley and the Utshani Fund.

A memorandum of agreement has been signed between Section 21 and FEDUP to develop a portion of the land for housing, with the remainder to be used for commercial development and community activities.  Overlapping professional and community teams are being appointed for the residential and commercial developments respectively, and funding is  in place for the development of an urban design concept for the residential side of the project.  This project has the capacity to deliver low cost and gap housing complemented by a substantial non-residential development which will generate employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

UCAL Berkeley
Building on work already done for Cordaid, UCAL Berkeley will provide further funding  to help strengthen capacity within sustainable neighbourhood projects, and more particularly to provide seed funding for the old cement factory project in Philippi.

The Stellenbosch sustainable housing strategy – Reinventing Stellenbosch – began end of 2007 via a partnership between Stellenbosch Municipality, University of Stellenbosch and the Sustainability Institute.    With sustainability as a core value, a strategy was devised to address the housing backlog and to help eradicate poverty without negative effects on  eco-systems or natural resources by shifting the focus to sustainable human settlements as opposed to simply more ‘housing’.

As part of the research undertaken to develop this strategy, an encompassing study was completed, which included energy use, water and sewerage, roads and transport and other infrastructure, where possible offering sustainable alternatives to ‘standard’ technologies.  It also addressed sustainable issues in terms of policies and planning, promoting mixed social and income housing and biodiversity and urban agriculture.

The project aimed at moving away from the ‘one size fits all’ approaches, focusing instead on recognising different needs and preferences that people in different locations have.  The strategy considered how to best utilise state land, identified key sites for intervention and establishing new nodes, integrating land, housing and property markets with a strong emphasis on community-based/driven approaches.

To date a situational analysis, and capacity and constraints analysis have been completed; currently a housing delivery strategy and consultation are underway which will be followed by the integrated human settlement strategy (housing) plan.

DANIDA Projects: July 2007 – current
Following on the integrated analysis work done for the UNDP, DANIDA  provided  funding to acquire and interrogate data,  and to build a systems dynamic model which explores key resource flows (energy, water, waste, sanitation) and examines how these flows affect the local economy, natural and social systems.  The model can be used as a decision making tool for the City of Cape Town, and can be re-configured for other cities as well.

City of Cape Town Discussion Papers: April 2008 –  end June, 2008
The Sustainability Institute has been given the task of re-defining  sustainability themse for the CCT, taking into account Cape Town’s unique natural environment and its role in a developing country.  The SI has, in partnership with the CCT,  identified themes (see below) which will be explored by experts in the respective sectors.  This exploration will occur via research, and through the submission of academic papers, which will be peer reviewed and written up in a book. Workshops will be held where discussion papers will be presented and unpacked in Cape Town’s city council. The Sustainability Institute will work closely with City officials and local stakeholders to ensure lasting impact.  Identified themes are listed below:

1.    Water and Sanitation  – including inland and coastal water quality and its link with the sanitation system, and provision of water and sanitation to households including alternative technologies and sources, as well as water restrictions.
2.    Energy – energy efficiency and alternative and renewable energies (home/community based and network distributed).
3.    Solid Waste  – Reduction, recycling, and alternative methods of disposal.
4.    Transport  – Alternative forms of transport, integrated public transport, carbon reduction, non-motorised transport.
5.    Natural Space and City growth  – green open space is very important as it provides important recreational and social space. This paper could/should address the balance between natural space and built environment, issues of access, types and amounts of open space required, integration of biodiversity into green open space such as parks.
6.    Urban Form  – this paper should address issues of city spatial development and densification, where CT is heading given its history
7.    Economic and Industrial Development  – Local Economic development, fair trade, embodied energy, economic development that is harmonious with the environment, and tourism are all issues which could be included here.
8.    Ecological Footprint  – It has been estimated by Barry Gasson that the average per capita ecological footprint of people in Cape Town is almost as high as that of North America, and substantially higher than Western Europe. What are the reasons? What is the ideal ecological footprint, and how do we achieve this?
9.    Architecture and building materials  – Green building and the use of recycled/alternative building materials, for small scale and large scale development. This paper must be able to address issues of large scale implementation.
10.    Social Justice  – this would include poverty alleviation and inequality as it relates to sustainability. The concept of Social Ecology is important here as well, which basically states that environmental problems and social injustice/poverty are inextricably linked. Sophie Oldfield from UCT would be good on this – (Cross-cutting theme)
11.    Social Housing  – this is the biggest issue that Cape Town faces. We have a huge housing backlog – around 300 000 – very little land, and very little money (comparatively). Things that should be addressed in this paper include typologies of housing structure, building communities instead of dormitory town, timeframes for achieving this, alternative technologies, alternative methodologies (e.g. community based project design and management instead of current top-down approach). I think it would be important for the author of this paper to have contact with the author of paper 9. Integrating biodiversity and greening is also a key issue here.
12.    Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security– this paper would deal with the increasing cost of food production, food security, urban agriculture;
13.    Financial flows – this paper will provide a quantification of existing flows in financial terms, including total cost of service provision and how these costs are covered; total costs of supply generated from sales, rates, tariffs, internal and external funding sources, and a description of billing systems.


United Nations Development Program Projects: Nov. 2006 – Feb 2008

Biofuels:  This project assessed the overall technical and economic benefits and risks associated with the production of biogas, bio-ethanol, and bio-diesel from the various resources of biowaste generated in the city and its immediate surroundings.  The study drew on research and projects currently under way, or being developed, and explored the integration of different resources and technologies as appropriate. The study focused on the City of Cape Town (CCT) within the broader context of the Western Cape Province.  The study identified projects that are clearly viable for immediate implementation, and provided an overview of the expected outcomes of such projects, within the CCT.

SURF:  The Sustainable Urban Resources Forum (SURF) provides research, case studies, a database of goods, services, professionals, and a monitoring and evaluation tool for developments. SURF provides a web portal ( which pools information and resources together in the attempt to build local resource capacity via an interactive database, building networks within the Sustainable Development communities and the establishment of an office which will house these various outputs for professional use.  We are currently attempting to source further finance for this project.

Integrated Analysis:  The Integrated Analysis component offered Cape Town stakeholder groups a comprehensive overview of the current position of key “resource flows” (energy, wastes, and water) and how these interact with the local economy.  Several scenarios were examined for their resource flow and economic implications.   Based upon this, and with extra funding provided by Danida, a long-term strategy for integrated resource is being developed that will help Cape Town match more sustainable resource management to the needs of a growing economy, improve local finances and increase access to basic housing and services for the poor.  The integrated resource plan, based in a systems dynamic model, can serve as the primary tool for the CCT to reflect on resource use trends, project the need for future capacity, make advance decisions on investment and management changes, and identify in the interim pilot initiatives that it can in longer-term scale up and replicate throughout Cape Town.


Further UNDP Funding
The UNDP has expressed an interest in providing further funding for the systems dynamic model, capacity building for CCT officials (bursaries for modules), assistance with the discussion papers listed above and further work on water/sanitation  infrastructure within the CCT.


The National Department of Housing is looking at new and more effective ways of rolling out their Breaking New Ground housing strategy. We have a signed MoU with them, with the view of running training programs for Provincial and local government officials, linked to pilot projects in 9 provinces. This would be a train the trainers program, we would design curriculum and training materials that would be used in the training program and we would link this to a pilot project here in the Western Cape (the old cement factory at Philippi has been proposed). This is a 3 year program.

Cordaid 3
Building on work done in Cordaid 1 and 2, Cordaid has requested two separate proposals for capacity building in sustainable neighbourhood design.   Cordaid’s newly established “urban matters” project has requested a proposal for capacity building in the solid waste sector in the CCT. A proposal has been submitted for a scoping study of recycling initiatives in CCT, for a recycling drop-off facility at Philippi  and for a rates and tariffs model re-write for the CCT. A second proposal will be submitted through another Cordaid office further strengthening work done at Philippi.

The Sustainability Institute was invited to present at the AGM of a large Dutch institution called “Wetsus” in April, 2008. Comprised of 60 companies and 5 University partners, this agency offers business support  services, a know how centre for venture capital for water technology,  and  masters degrees in water and sanitation technology.  Their  goal: to become the EU centre for water technology.

Wetsus would like to explore a partnership with the SI which could include: funding for water and sanitation technological solutions for Cape Town, PhD students for CCT based research, partnerships with their partner organizations. One PhD student has already contacted us and is interested in working here (using his own funding) examining community  sanitation systems.

Bylaw Costing and Rates and Tariff Modelling for the CCT
The City of Cape Town is exploring the idea of re-working its rates and tariff models with regard to energy, water, waste, and sanitation.  They have approached the Sustainability Institute and have asked us to write a proposal, building on work already done in the UNDP/Danida projects that would look toward more sustainable tariff models.  DANIDA has indicated that they will provide funding for this exercise.