Sustainability - buzzword or business savvy?
"Sustainability" has become a buzzword which is differently understood in different contexts. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines sustainable as "conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources"; in a business sense sustainability refers to assessing a product's value chain throughout its life cycle so as to identify potential opportunities for changing production operations in ways that are beneficial to both the organisation and the environment.
JG Afrika's sustainability division comprises energy, greening and waste management specialists with many years of experience in all aspects of integrated environmental resource management (i.e. water, waste, energy, raw material optimisation), pollution prevention and waste minimisation at source through the systematic and proactive application of cleaner production (CP) principles and environmental footprinting to establish existing and future baselines disclosing the true cumulative impact of either products and processes or entire organisations.
The multidisciplinary team has been involved in varied projects which demonstrate their ability to assess the value chain and, based on life-cycle assessment principles, identify potential opportunities for intervention strategies, cost these opportunities and then calculate the required payback periods. This illustrates the team's sound understanding of all the training, strategic, technical and basic engineering tasks at hand. We undertake these projects with the aim of identifying opportunities to optimise processes and improve efficiency as a contribution to finding solutions to address energy, waste, water and wastewater management.
Sustainable interventions at Bayside Mall
Bayside Mall wins the Energy Efficiency Forum Award
In 2009 the City of Cape Town in partnership with Eskom and the South African Property Owners Association, launched Cape Town's Energy Efficiency Forum (EE Forum) which has been assisting commercial buildings and operations with practical know-how to improve energy efficiency. This has helped to reduce the City's overall electricity demand and costs and lowered the carbon footprint.
In 2015, Bayside Mall and the Cape Town French School have been named as the winners of the 2015 Energy Efficiency Forum Awards. Adjudication was provided by the Energy Research Centre's Monitoring and Verification Unit, based at the University of Cape Town.
Entrants were judged on their commitment to reducing their operational energy needs through behavioural changes as well as technology upgrades.
The award for the Large Building Retrofit Category was scooped by Bayside Mall.
Sustainable interventions at Bayside Mall
Bayside Mall in Tableview, Cape Town, is part of a larger project illustrating JG Afrika's commitment to providing integrated, sustainable solutions for "green buildings".
Appointed as the engineers for the Sustainable Interventions Project, JG Afrika implemented three primary interventions to decouple the Mall's mainstream resource flows, namely: (i) rainwater harvesting and reuse (utilising storm water for non-potable purposes), (ii) waste-to-energy (using anaerobic digestion and biogas combustion), and (iii) solar energy (utilising photovoltaic cells and direct sunlight).
Rainwater is harvested from the shopping centre's rooftop, filtered of debris, stored in elevated tanks and then pumped to two header tanks positioned above the public toilet blocks. The system is controlled by simple telemetry that is connected to the Mall's building management system which informs the operations manager whether the system is functioning properly. The cleaned storm water is gravity-fed from the tanks into the toilet cisterns at a pressure of roughly 1 bar, and is also sent to the central irrigation manifolds from which point it is used to irrigate 28 areas of landscape planting. JG Afrika designed an upgrade to the system when it was discovered that the demand was higher than anticipated and this has resulted in a 93% saving on water used for public toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an excellent way of recycling the approximately 580 kg of spoiled foodstuff (organic waste) that is generated in the shopping mall each day. Anaerobic digestion is a series of biological processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. One of the end products is biogas, which is combusted to generate electricity and heat. The organic waste is fed into a macerator which blends the waste into a soup before feeding the AD. The biogas generated in the AD process is then stored in a low-pressure inflatable storage unit, after which it is immediately combusted using an enclosed biogas flare. At a later stage a biogas engine will be used to generate electrical energy.
Solar PV energy
Photovoltaic (PV) modules have been strategically positioned on the rooftop of the shopping centre and the energy generated is fed directly into the Mall's existing network. To date the system has exceeded its guaranteed performance ratio of 77.5% and has produced a performance ratio of 87.5%, despite extensive perching and soiling by seagulls. The installation is on track to generate approximately 770 MWh/yr and reduce carbon emissions by 775 tC02 eq./yr.
JG Afrika takes its commitment to the environment very seriously and because of this project designs are treated with as much environmental sensitivity as possible. This is an area for a short summary of the greenwash newsletter, how it started and what is consists of.
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