The Buildings unit with the National Public Works are out on Green Building awareness campaign across all regions and pilot of Biogas in four (4) Regions as the Unit it is in the process of implementing energy saving projects in all state owned buildings.
Biogas, an innovation system process part of the Green Building initiative is a renewable energy source that is produced by the anaerobic digestion (without oxygen) to produce energy. This energy can be used for cooking, heating and for fuel. The department has identified four schools to pilot biogas to help in reducing electrical energy consumption in schools.
As the custodian of state properties, the department is the largest player in the property and construction sector. The department has the responsibility to provide leadership in relation to green buildings and the green economy. “It is our responsibility to take decisive steps to ensure that our portfolio of state buildings reduce their environmental impact; are energy efficient, resources efficient and environmentally responsible” said Luvuyo Nkwentsha, Manager-Buildings, who is leading the campaign.
The department has been mandated by the MinMec to adhere to International agreements of reducing the Province carbon footprint. The department has structured itself in the centre of the climate change so as to respond to the sustainable developments acts which stem from International agreements made by South Africa in a bid to combat Greenhouse emissions.
Nkwentsha said the only way to understand the Green Building concept is that it teaches us the Afrocentric way of doing things, consuming only what you need to survive and not acquiring what you do not need to survive. “The human relationship with the earth is reciprocal and if we keep on taking more that we require the earth will react and fight back and it does that in invisible things such as drought, floods and earth quakes.” he said.
“We all have a role to play in ensuring that we address climate change and the department has placed itself at the centre of the International and National building agenda. Ensuring that lights are switched off when you leave the office ensures that we save Carbon dioxide (CO2) that is burnt to power light.
Yoliswa Maloni also for the Buildings unit said “Energy efficiency can be greatly achieved by first changing the behavour of employees and this can only be achieved by educating them and encouraging the employees to start saving energy in their offices before the department starts implementing Green Building projects”
Zanele Hakamela, Biogas specialist- Green Building Unit from National Public Works who is mandated to drive renewable energy projects specifically the Biogas said “Biogas is produced when you feed organic waste in a digestor. The waste can be food, animal or human. The waste is mixed with water to produces the energy(methane) that is environmentally healthy and used specifically for cooking. This method reduces the consumption of energy electricity.
We visited Tholang Senior Secondary in Maluti, Matatiele one of the schools where Biogas will be piloted. Zanele Hakamela explained that this Biogas plant to be implemented will benefit the school nutrition feeding scheme, she said “The school will use all the waste from peeling and left over food by leaners to fuel the balloon digestor to provide methane gas for the school to use for cooking. It can also be used for heating in cold winter days and that the slurry biogas that comes out of the gas can be used as a fertiliser for the school garden.”
By Sipokazi Ncanywa