Being Sustainable

Energy

Savings

Following the principle of “Savings First, then Production,” it may be possible to avoid having to produce energy at all if you can reduce your consumption by a large enough margin. This is how we propose addressing our energy challenges:

  • Water Heating – go Solar or Heat Pump
  • Cooking – convert to Gas (natural/bio if available, or LP if not)
  • Heating – Use Gas (natural/bio if available, or LP if not)
  • Cooling – Avoid/reduce air-con, use natural ventilation or fans if possible, paint your roof a lighter colour, using refractory ceramic paint
  • Dish/Clothes Washing – set machines to cool or warm, energy saving mode
  • Lighting – Convert all incandescent bulbs to LED or CFL – link to 1f below
  • Other – switch off plugs, do not leave idle chargers connected

Production

Energy Production is an expensive exercise and all Savings options (see above) will need to be exhausted before taking this step.  Once energy consumption is reduced as far as possible, and only then should one consider production, as less energy is now required.

Energy production is an expensive exercise because after savings, and before any generating equipment can be brought online, non-productive infrastructure (specialist design, wiring and cabling, inverters, isolators plus batteries and charge controllers where energy storage is desired) is required for integrating the energy to be produced with your existing electrical infrastructure.   The smaller the scale of production, the higher the relative cost of the non-productive infrastructure (eg 50% infrastructure cost for small systems < 2kW) and the more expensive the overall exercise per watt.  Larger scale production enables efficiencies which make the infrastructure less expensive relative to the overall cost of the system (eg 10% or less of total system costs for non-productive infrastructure for systems of >10kW).

The available technologies, depending on location, site conditions and resources, are generally regarded as the following in order of most cost efficient to most expensive:

  • Solar PV – in sunny conditions such as most of South Africa enjoys, this technology remains the best value for money and first option. Pay back is in the region of 7 years, lifespan 20.
  • Wind – represents challenges from a Health and Safety point of view in built environments and from an environmental point of view wherever it is located. This technology requires average wind speeds of > 5m/second, usually in elevated or wind-channelled locations to be remotely viable. Pay back is in the region of 10 years, lifespan 10.
  • Bio-Gas – (methane) should be considered if it can be affiliated to a poultry or livestock (agricultural) or a high food wastage operation such as a restaurant. Raw, untreated sewage is a source of bio-gas but this is required in high quantities (eg schools) if it is to represent a meaningful energy supplement. Bio-gas can be used to run a diesel generator for conversion to electricity, but t is most often used for cooking or heating. Pay back is in the region of 15 years, lifespan 15.
  • Small Hydro – also represents an environmental challenge since it will affect the eco-system of riverine environments, but there are less invasive technologies available which can mitigate this impact. Even at the smaller-scale (<5kW), this technology requires a minimum of a 10m head and a flow-rate of >100l/minute to be viable. Pay back is in the region of 15 years, lifespan 15.

Meeting short term demands with long term solutions!

Water

Savings

Again, following the principle of  “Savings First, then Production,” this is how Inkanyiso proposes addressing Water Resource challenges:

  • Washing – yourself (shower) with a low-flow shower rose) / washing machines in economy mode / cars and windows with a bucket.
  • Watering – do not use sprinklers in the garden (try and plant indigenous species which attract and support indigenous fauna and survive on natural rainfall) unless it is harvested rain-water / treated grey water.

Harvesting

  • Rain Water – collect it in a tank first for lawn watering/car washing. Later, if you have sufficient storage, consider connecting into your existing plumbing infrastructure with an in-line pump and particle filter, for cisterns, showers and other non-potable uses.
    Note that unless advanced treatment (chemical and carbon filtration or UV purification) technologies are employed, it is not advisable to drink rainwater, particularly in urban environments with a high atmospheric fallout rate.
  • Treated Grey Water  – with a small fibre filter and some alkaline-loving reeds/other plants used as a first treatment, it is possible to use to grey water to water your garden and even vegetables (see Food Security).

Meeting short term demands with long term solutions!

Food Security

Reducing and re-cycling food waste

Again, following the principle of “Savings First, then Production,” this is how we propose addressing Food Security challenges:

  • Buy and prepare less food than you are accustomed to. Latest research indicates that besides usually consuming more calories than we need, nearly half the world’s food is wasted/spoilt;
  • Separate and re-cycle your plastics, glass, tins and paper, leaving just organic waste for the 3 technologies mentioned below:
  • Collect the remaining organic (food) waste for composting and/or
  • Start a wormery /or worm-farm to further reduce organic waste and produce vermileachate (or “worm-wee”) for food production (see Production below), and/or
  • Use waste food /organic matter as feedstock for a Bio-gas Digestor (see Energy, under “Being Sustainable” on the main navigation bar above).

Food Production

  • Grow your own vegetables; preferably use treated grey water or harvested rainwater for irrigation (see Water, under “Being Sustainable” on the main navigation bar above), and your own compost (see Reducing and Re-Cycling above) as a soil supplement.
  • Run your own poultry and/or livestock; this may be challenging in an urban environment but there are ways to do so.

Meeting short term demands with long term solutions!