History at our feet

Last week we celebrated the rich layers that make up South Africa, on Heritage Day. The hearts and lives of a diversity of peoples are woven into a tapestry that makes up the South African identity. One of the features of this identity, is the landscape. A deep appreciation of the resources and awe-inspiring beauty the landscape holds, is true for most South Africans, and is one of the qualities captured in Monaghan Farm.

The ‘feel’ at Monhaghan Farm is one that cherishes the cultural landscape: the historical layers that have been compacted over centuries. Traces remain of early humans nearby at the Cradle of Humankind from which they traversed the continent, following game, establishing iron-age settlements and later chasing opportunities that followed the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand. Somehow, Monaghan Farm reflects all these eras: the vastness of a prehistoric landscape, the energy of Johannesburg buzzing just over the horizon, and the traces of productive farm life. While Monaghan Farm is now a residential community of like-minded individuals opting for a more nature-based lifestyle, historical traces of its past have been preserved, such as rows of trees, farm-stalls and productive agriculture. Sustainability principles that underlie its strict development rules, further embody the evolution of the farm into a place that cherishes landscape and also promotes quality regional architecture using efficient and better building systems.

Energy wise

South Africa is no stranger to the energy crisis. The Mail and Guardian editorial on 19 September 2014 highlights he complexity of the concerns related to the bulk supply of electricity to the nation using a system that is dependent mostly on high-risk coal and nuclear power stations. With electricity costs realistically set to escalate beyond the suggested rate hikes, the ripple effects will be felt by consumers not only in their electricity bill, but also their rates and taxes and in the products they buy, thereby affecting their lifestyle. 

As home owners, we have to become energy wise

Being energy wise starts with making better decisions for your home and it’s future. Having a luxury house that is only supplied by electricity from the grid is a risky investment in the current financial context. On site energy production is certainly an option, but with so much energy being lost to heating and cooling a home, it is useless in a poorly designed and inefficient home. The key lies in integrating alternative energy systems with materials that are as effective as possible in reducing heat loss in winter or overheating in summer. Considering high-quality alternative building systems like those at Stand 47 from Saint-Gobain are a viable option in the South African housing market especially when ETICS systems used are 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.

Building a home is a long-term investment: make yours join the forefront of energy wise thinking

Passive design principles in Stand 47

What is passive design?

Passive design refers to strategies in the design of the house that limit or completely avoid the use of mechanical systems to ventilate, light, heat or cool a building. The first step in creating a house that works with passive design is to study the local context and climatic knowledge to find clues for design. These technologies are tried and tested and were the norm in times where mechanical technology was either unavailable or too expensive. Today, interest in passive design is returning due to increasing energy costs, supply issues and larger global concerns related to climate change. Generally, passive houses can save up to 60 – 70% on energy running costs*, just because of their considered ‘passive’ design strategies.

What are the types of passive design principles?

Four key strategies apply to passive design in Stand 47:

  • Passive Solar: the orientation of the building plays an important role here. In the Southern hemisphere a residential building that lives out toward North with smaller East and West elevations is optimal. This means that most of the living areas can benefit from direct light in winter which heats up indoor spaces. Overhangs and screens can be used to block direct sun in Summer when shade is preferred by working with sun-angles. Deciduous vegetation can also be used to shade parts of the building and lower the temperature of the micro-climate in summer and allow light through in winter.
  • Passive Wind: cross-ventilation is achieved when windows are placed at opposite ends of a room at different heights and sizes to create a draft. Windows can also be placed in relation to prevailing winds. In summer, this cools down a building significantly, while in winter, a well-sealed building envelope with double-glazing ensure that no heat is lost due to unwanted drafts or a thin envelope. Water can also be used to lower ambient temperatures through evaporative cooling.
  • Passive Materials: choosing materials that have a high insulation value and can both absorb and release heat when its necessary, is a key part of the process of thermal comfort. The Saint-Gobain wall systems are able to store and release heat gradually to prevent overheating or uncomfortable internal temperatures. 
  • Passive Lighting: South Africa is fortunate to have a lot of sunshine and clear skies for many hours of the day. This creates the opportunity to use natural light through well-placed windows to light up indoor spaces during the day without having to switch on lights.

*http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/21075737/list/the-passive-house-what-it-is-and-why-you-should-care

Creating multi-comfort using quality materials

Building in the 21st century requires insight and innovation, which is why sustainable practices are important. However, Saint-Gobain’s building systems are not only sustainable, but smarter in that they increase quality of life, comfort, ease of use and adaptability. Stand 47’s well-considered architectural resolutions, building materials and systems, results in what Saint-Gobain calls ‘multi-comfort building’, based on five human senses:

  • Thermal comfort (Touch) – a quality building must have comfortable internal temperatures within an airtight building envelope. Saint-Gobain’s products provide highly effective thermal insulation and relative humidity in a fresh, innovative way that limits extreme internal temperature variables, summer overheating, drafts or surface heating. 
  • Health comfort (Smell) – good health starts with the quality of the air that we breathe. Saint-Gobain products do not compromise internal air quality and some of their internal boards are capable of absorbing and converting harmful pollutants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the air into inert compounds. They maintain healthy ventilation rates, air temperature, and humidity levels.
  • Acoustic comfort (Hearing) – Saint-Gobain systems provide high acoustic isolation limiting the transfer of airborne, impact and reverberation sounds through the building structure and rooms. Sound-absorbing wall systems ensure user privacy and quiet without being disturbed by unexpected noise.
  • Visual comfort (Sight) – not only are all the requirements for technological innovation and efficiency met, elegantly designed aesthetic solutions promote the use of natural light while considering glare and luminance, to create stimulating modern lines and premium finishes. 
  • Modular comfort (Thought) – Saint-Gobain’s product technologies work in modular systems, so buildings can be erected faster due to easier installation requirements which produce less site waste. This decreases energy consumption, carbon footprints and running costs. These durable systems require little maintenance and future renovations are much easier to perform with minimal inconvenience to the user.