The eighth site meeting

There have been significant transformations on site in the last two weeks. With the light steel frame being in place, the installation of Saint-Gobain‘s ETICS walls could begin, and with that, more of the components that will create the form for the final building can be seen.

Light steel frame and wall cladding 

Etics wall systems – cladding begins

Exterior plaster testing

Damp proofing the retaining walls

Materials arriving on site

Stand 47- highlighted at the 2013 green building convention

From 16-18 October 2013, the Green Building Council of South Africa is presenting the Green Building Convention in Cape Town which will be integrated with the World GBC Congress. The theme of this year’s convention is REWIRE, to encourage “rethinking” of our status quo to generate paradigm shifts, making a business case, enhancing networks, and allowing for a number of sustainability tours by experts. The program this year is aimed to inspire and reinvigorate action and awareness around green issues to build value. Thought leaders will include Dion Chang (analysing trends for 2014), Gunter Pauli (exploring the hidden connections in our urban systems), Romily Madew (green building trends and practices), Cameron Sinclair (how humanitarian design can provide innovative and sustainable solutions to global crises) and a number of other speakers which include Norbert Sasse, Jason Drew, Lewis Pugh, Mark Watts, Justin Smith and Alex Kuzma.  

One of the primary sponsors this year is, Saint-Gobain. They will be setting up a stand where they will be exhibiting their products and highlighting the Stand 47 case study. Members of the public are encouraged to visit their stand (tentatively stands 59-64) to learn more about Stand 47. 

To register for the convention or learn more about the inspirational line up of speakers, please go to their website

Exploring Stand 47’s exterior cladding system from weber

Stand 47’s light steel frame will be clad with a new product from Weber Saint-Gobain, called ETICSExternal Thermal Insulation Composite System, or ETICS for short, is a thermally insulating, protective and decorative exterior cladding system which consists of a series of engineered expanded polystrene (EPS) panels, a waterproof membrane, together with a reinforcing cement base-coat and a mineral or polymeric finish plaster, all of which combine to exceed the R-values set out in SANS 10400-XA energy efficiency standards for new buildings. 

Taking positive action when planning and building an energy efficient home

The importance of a properly insulated home in today’s economic climate, cannot be overstated. With further energy related price increases expected on top of already un-affordable energy prices, the insulation properties of Weber’s ETICS system prove even more attractive. 

While property owners have little control over the ever increasing cost of energy, they can meaningfully reduce the amount of energy required to regulate the climate inside their buildings. Correctly installed, Weber ETICS will reduce energy wastage and increase internal comfort levels by reducing heating or cooling bills.

Installation methodology

Weber ETICS can be fixed to existing or new substrate consisting of brick, cement blocks or LSF (Light weight Steel Frame) using Weber engineered EPS panels and specialized fixings. A Weber Base Coat with mesh reinforcement for additional strength is applied to the EPS panels and once cured, a final decorative render is applied to finish the system. Weber’s Decorative Render is available in a variety of colours, sizes and textures all ready-mixed and made to match the required specification. Applied by trowel, they offer a high quality exterior finish that is highly waterproof and durable.


Apart from the significant savings ETICS systems can provide in occupancy running costs, ETICS also offer benefits to the construction process and offer a viable and valuable construction method for home owners looking to lower their construction times, and improve the efficiency of the building process as well as thermal efficiency during habitation. In a recent article in Walls & Roofs, ETICS systems were said to be 84% more thermally efficient than other wall systems including brick, glass, concrete and wood, because they have a large R-value of 3.76. Additional Benefits include: 

  • Light Weight
  • Speed of erection
  • Minimal waste
  • Increased in usable and Gross Letable Areas
  • Increased thermal performance
  • Reduced design loads on structure
  • No need for painting 
  • Render comes tinted in colour specified by client
  • 10 year guarantee on Webers’s ETIC System
  • Save on scaffolding costs
  • No craning of materials required during construction
  • Design flexibility


While ETICS can be costly to install, its advantages include improved air tightness of the building, as well as substantially increased thermal performance of the building: the resultant savings achieved far exceed the initial additional cost incurred at the time of installation. 

If ETICS is applied in conjunction with a LSF (Light Weight Steel Frame) structure further reductions in the heavy design loads on the edge of slabs can be achieved, which in turn can reduce the need for ‘up-stand’ beams. This is an important factor to take into account when determining the savings that can be achieved using Weber ETICS, as it only weighs 60kg/m2 as opposed to double brick work that weighs approximately 450kg/m2. In addition, the increased amount of usable space that is freed up by using ETICS systems, can be up to 1-2% of the floor space since ETICS walls are narrower than brick walls and the cladding takes up space to the exterior of the building.

Savings are also achieved on installation time when using Weber ETICS and can drastically reduce the build time. Saint-Gobain’s Weber ETICS systems, are therefore a tried-and-tested alternative for external walls, that not only offer many benefits during construction, but also increased savings after occupation during the lifetime of the building.

For more information, please contact Quinton Peters at Saint-Gobain Weber on 012 657 2800.

Site progress – the walls are going up


We’ve begun cladding the external sections of the Light Steel Frame with Saint-Gobain Weber ETICS.

Site progress – garage frame is up


The view Northwards this morning, featuring stand47.


Close up of the Light Steel structure framing the garage.

The final touches are being added to the Light Steel structure thereafter, the next big phase which is cladding, will begin. This consists of the roof sheeting and the Saint-Gobain walls and ceilings.

Saint-gobain products undergo lifecycle assessments

Saint-Gobain are committed to creating a sustainable habitat for the future. This requires innovation and creativity to adapt manufacturing and distribution processes to address issues such as climate change by reducing industrial carbon emissions, protecting natural resources, and conserving ecosystems. The need to reduce the worldwide environmental impact of construction is a core part of their strategy to carry out operations in an environmentally responsible manner. One of the ways  this is achieved is through the evaluation of their products using a critical Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology. 

Added value of life cycle assessment in stand 47

As the Light Steel construction phase is nearing completion, the next phase will see the application of a number of Saint-Gobain Products to the house with a detailed exploration of each. 

In addition to a number of benefits already listed in Step 3 (like energy efficiency and versatility), the fact that Saint-Gobain have measured the environmental impact of each of their products through five stages of a product’s “life”, adds value to the specification and construction processes being undertaken at Stand47, bringing it closer to the aim of creating a state-of-the-art home. Understanding the Five Stages of LCA sheds light on the impacts and benefits of light steel construction, and raises questions about the impact of more traditional materials on the planet.

The five steps of life cycle assesment

At the raw material stage, they look for ways to source raw materials while protecting and sustaining the environment. In view of this, they are involved in key conservation projects that aim to give something back to the natural environment where an exchange of resources has occurred.

Their products are produced with great respect to the environment and therefore every effort is made to reduce the impact of manufacture on the environment through decreased energy use and decreased wastage. Apart from streamlining their manufacturing processes, they have also implemented recycling programs at their plants, and have switched to natural gas for power, which uses a third of the carbon footprint of electricity.

An unfortunate reality of construction is that materials need to be transported accross large distances to get to site. To manage this, Saing-Gobain carefully study the impact of these journeys on the environment (including energy consumption and air pollution), finding better ways to package materials (more load fewer trips), routes and vehicles. This has led to a 20% drop in fuel consumption.

As a founding member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) (managing the green star rating system in South Africa), their products are installed and used to build smartly and differently, with superior results. Saint Gobain Gyproc’s boards have played a key role in some of SA’s best examples of responsible construction, resulting in energy conservation, acoustic optimisation and a decrease in the total construction time.

Aware of the negative impact that waste construction products have on the planet, Saint-Gobain are committed to a responsible product destruction process. Their aim of creating comfortable  healthy and safe building materials that meeting international sustainability standards, is further explored through safe removal and decomposition of their building materials when they are not longer used. 

For more on the Saint-Gobain LCA and their Environmental policy, please click here.

Demystifying light steel frame construction

Building with steel

Building with steel is not a new trend. In South Africa, steel frame construction has been popular for many decades, particularly in commercial and industrial applications. In the housing market, steel has been used structurally, in conjunction with masonry, concrete and stone. While globally residential light steel construction (LSC) is popular, it has been slow to be used prominently in local markets. 

This scenario is changing due to an increased awareness about its cost effectiveness, resulting from faster installation times and greater environmental efficiencies during its life time. In this entry we will explore the Advantages and processes involved in using light steel construction in upmarket housing. More importantly, we use it to address the aspects of efficiency explored in this case study as well as the intent to create a refined contemporary home, by utilising state-of-the-art building materials.


Some myths about using light steel frames in housing, include those that say LSC does not compare to the strength, robustness and durability of masonry construction. This section is aimed at busting those myths by listing its Advantages.* 

The two main Advantages for LSC versus other materials, are quality and efficiency. It is estimated that about 20% of the construction costs could be saved using LSC as a more resourceful, efficient, and adaptable building construction. In addition, this technology is suited to the needs of contemporary architectural solutions that employ available technologies to create a quality finished product.


  • Complies with the rational design requirements of the National Building Regulations as well as the SANS regulations.
  • It is a building technology that has been refined and shown to last, using top quality materials with professional finishes.
  • Its increased strength means that larger open plan spaces can be achieved resulting in more usable space and less material wastage.
  • Each structure is signed off by a structural engineer.
  • Steel frames have been designed to offer better fire resistance as well as more safety or earthquake resistance (even allowing for some foundation movement without cracking).
  • Thermal insulation can be specified to be superior to conventional brick and mortar buildings.
  • Frames are assembled under controlled factory conditions.
  • Design elegance and the astute use of materials results in a thin and light architectural aesthetic that speaks to the needs of contemporary homes.
  • The “light” construction and installation phase means that the building has less of a direct impact on the local environment, leading to less disruption over a shorter period.


  • Speed: 30% of the construction time could be saved.
  • Accuracy: limited error as all junctions are exactly 90° and walls are straight .
  • Light weight: a steel framed with cladding offers a mass saving of 90% compared with a double skin brick wall, thereby improving the material consumption.
  • Structure: foundations can be designed for less structural loading due to the low mass of walls.
  • Sloping sites: column foundations and suspended floors, reduce the cost of building.
  • Minimal waste of building materials.
  • Energy efficient: better thermal insulation results in lower energy costs (heating/ cooling) overtime. The CSIR have conducted a study comparing LSC to masonry demonstrating LSC to be more energy efficient.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: horizontal or vertical additions can changed easily, at any time.
  • Extra floor space: reduced thickness of external walls compared with a double skin brick wall.
  • Services: installed in wall cavities therefore easily retrofitted without damage to walls.
  • Shorter construction period and faster installation times.
  • Accurate cost budgets.
  • Endlessly recyclable materials.
  • Long-term robustness: Steel frames are not as susceptible to organic types of decay.
  • Optimal use of available resources, with long-term life spans and highly efficient future proofing and low energy use, means that this method of construction leaves room for some adaptation in future, without unnecessarily harming the environment, and while also improving the quality of life of its users.

* These Advantages have been sourced from the websites listed below:
Living Steel
Steel Home Company (The stand47 Light Steel contractor)

What is it and how does it work?

Light steel frame refers to the structural frame that creates the form and support of the house which is then clad. The frame consists of structural wall frames and roof trusses, which are pre-manufactured off site from cold-formed light galvanised steel sections. Cladding can consist of a single skin brick wall or Saint-Gobain’s Weber ETICS, fixed to the wall frames. Electricity and plumbing are installed within the wall cavity created by the light steel frames, as is the insulation material. 

During the design phase of the building process, the engineer will typically determine the structural requirements to carry the loads of the building. These drawings and calculations would later be provided to the light steel contractor to specify and design the light steel frames and trusses to match the architectural and engineering requirements. These are then manufactured off-site in factory controlled conditions and with the highest level of accuracy (a few weeks of lead time should be budgeted for), The frames are later transported to site (requiring much less transportation than traditional materials) and require very little storage space. Within a few hours or days (depending on the site of the project) the frames are assembled and secured on site. 

Both the Advantages listed above and the process itself, result in a building technology that is not only efficient on many scales, but also one that offers a quality solution to the housing market.

For more information, please visit the referenced sites:
Living Steel

Tshwane municipality  lsc training session

As part of the building plans approval for Light Steel Frame Construction (LSC), the Tshwane Plans Control Department took an active interest in the building technology being used and requested a training session at Saint-Gobain to further familiarise themselves with the technical aspects of this method and these products. Training was hosted by Saint-Gobain at their offices on the 29th of August 2013 and among the 8 officials present, was the building inspector for Monaghan Farm. 
Training was facilitated by John Barnard (SASFA – Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association) and Farayi Muhamba (Saint-Gobain Building Systems Specialist). The training course covered the following aspects of the design:

  • Foundations and floors
  • Erection of the steel frame and trusses
  • Installation of insulation and services
  • Internal and External cladding
  • Progress Payments

As part of their continued training, Council will conduct a site visit to see the erected steel frame structure before cladding is installed. 

The Saint- Gobain Technical and Specifications division runs a MERSETA-approved academy, which is the country’s forerunner in product training. It presents an annual learnership programme, various short courses, continuing professional development programmes and a technical development programme through three training centres in Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape. 

For information, please follow the link

Stand47 – a case study in state-of-the-art technology

Stand 47 is an exploration of what can be achieved with South African residential construction using tried-and-tested building technologies that offer quality alternatives to traditional building solutions. Stand 47 opted to use a few technological alternatives to tangibly demonstrate their quality, showing how their use can result in the creation of a state-of-the-art home.

Technology 1 – light steel construction


Benefits for using Light Steel Construction have been discussed in an earlier post, titled “Demystifying Light Steel Construction“, and extend beyond a pure cost perspective. LSC is a state-of-the-art technology not only because its saves a lot of time, wastage, and environmental impact on site, but also because during its lifetime and after, it is more efficient (low energy) and valuable (it can be reused or recycled).

Technology 2 – solar pv


Solar Photovoltaics supplied by Saint-Gobain, create the opportunity for stand 47 to generate its own electrical power from a readily available, yet massively underutilised renewable resource. Using the roof surface (another vastly underutilised element in most buildings) the design of 45 PV panels strip allows for the home to remain functional when grid power fails.

Technology 3 – saint-gobain cladding products


Saint-Gobain have developed high quality building materials and technologies aimed at sustainable habitat and construction innovation. Details about the products used in stand47 can be found in posts in Step 3: Options and Products. Benefits include thermal insulation (lowering need to heat or cool the home), drywalls that filter internal air quality, improved life cycle costs, and the reuse or easy adaptation of internal spaces.

Technology 4 – windows and glazing


Our quest for energy efficiency extends to the use of double glazing in combination with passive design strategies (large overhang to protect from summer sun, but allow in winter sun). In winter, direct heat from the sun will pass through the glass into the house, but heat inside will not be able to escape through the double glazing. Although more expensive, the use of double glazing far improves the running costs within a short time due to much better thermal efficiencies. And although this is not a dense urban environment where keeping traffic noise out is a problem, the double glazing also offers acoustic value in isolating sound within the house.