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Solid Green Consulting has announced that it is working on two residential projects in Cape Town that are registered to be full Living Buildings under the Living Building Challenge. This is possibly the most rigorous green building certification programme and sustainable design framework in the world, according to Solid Green Consulting’s Marloes Reinink.

Cape Town green buildingsDeveloped by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) with the mandate of leading transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative, the Living Building Challenge standard raises the bar for sustainable development globally. The core principle of the Living Building Challenge is that buildings should mimic nature and natural systems.

When these principles are applied to a building, Reinink says, the building is required to operate perfectly within the climate where it is located; to harvest sufficient rainwater to provide for the needs of its occupants; and to collect sufficient energy from solar panels and other renewable energy systems to provide the building with all its energy needs. It is also required to provide a healthy indoor environment by using no harmful chemicals in the manufacture of the building materials and furniture, while being beautiful and acting as an inspiration to others.

Solid Green Consulting’s residential projects are therefore aiming to achieve net positive energy as well as net zero water. The goal is to have 105% of all energy used generated on site, and water consumption cannot be more than what is harvested from rain, sourced onsite, and recycled from grey/black sources. The buildings must be completely pollutant free, and almost all waste generated during construction and operations will have to be recycled.

Designed by US-based architectural firm, A-I-R Inc, construction on the residential developments is planned to start in 2019, with Living Building certification targeted for 2021. The projects involve densification of the two sites, each accommodating a two-family duplex in place of a single-family house.

“Our strategy is to locate the new structure in such a way that both homes can benefit from the solar orientation and view, and have equal access to the landscape. The intention is for the homes to share infrastructure such as the water collection system and an elevator for universal access. Each dwelling has the potential to house at least 100 solar panels,” says Darren Petrucci of A-I-R Inc.

“The architectural form and roof profiles are derived from the maximum benefits that can be obtained through correct solar orientation and light shading, and to optimise the roof areas for rainwater collection. As the buildings are tall and cascade up the mountain, we are manipulating natural air flow to cool the houses – stairwells become vertical vents to passively pull air up to the upper floors via thermal suction. Working with Solid Green allows us to test decisions as we move through the design process to optimise the liveability and performance of the buildings.”

A series of gardens is being designed to allow waste water from the buildings to be purified using the landscape as a closed-loop filtration system that concludes in an aquifer from which potable water will be sourced. Additional potable water will be sourced from a borehole. Rainwater collected from the roofs will be used for toilet flushing and the minimal irrigation required. Composting toilets and a composting system are being incorporated to minimise the sewage and deal with the remaining black water treatment.

Image credit: Copyright: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

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