Resilient Communities

South Africa

Circa the 1990s, the Witsand community in the Western Cape of South Africa was a 20 year-old shantytown of over 2,000 shacks; living conditions were deplorable, with no access to basic services. PEER Africa and PEER Consultants were chosen by the Cape Town City Council to transform the community using the integrated Energy Environment Empowerment Cost-Optimization (iEEECO™) methodology. 

Through the development of ‘sustainable’ iEEECO™ homes, PEER was able to alleviate the poverty issue, while improving the health and welfare of indigent South Africans. The iEEECO™ methodology involves: a set of procedures that create viable sustainable communities out of the rubble of shantytowns; active participation of project beneficiaries; a bottom-up, self-help approach that results in a sense of ownership and responsibility among community members; building structures designed using software tools (ERGY-10™) that identify cost-effective, energy-saving measures; calculating and analyzing building performance using embedded data collection devices and evaluation, monitoring and verification (EM&V) protocols established by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

iEEECO™ home features include: 1. Wind turbine/solar panel hybrid power systems (pilot phase); 2. Solar energy products - e.g. flashlights & cell phone charging unit (optional: for houses not connected to the power grid); 3. Solar thermal water heating units; 4. Passive-solar design with 600 mm roof overhang; 5. Large north-facing windows for cooling during summer months; 6. Native plants used for shading and greening; 7. Plastered concrete block houses with sand-filled hollows to increase mass. The project also included: water and power conserving appliances and fixtures; community gardens; storm-water best management practices; appropriate municipal infrastructures; R10 ceiling insulation, fire-retardant wall & ceiling board.

As a result, over 2,600 families now reside in single-family, multi-family, and mixed-use, passive-solar homes with energy-efficient and water-conserving appliances and fixtures.  Moreover, the community is now experiencing: low carbon footprint emission; solar-thermal water heating solutions; significant job creation within the community along with the development of local businesses to expand iEEECO™ concept; reduced energy and water consumption; low and affordable monthly household utility bills; reduced burden on the city’s utilities and infrastructure.

Moving forward, in Phase 3, PEER hopes to: 1. Build the final set of 1,648 iEEECO™ homes and associated community facilities. 2. Pilot ‘mini-grid’ in community using hybrid solar wind power generation system. 3. Introduce innovative, clean-fuel cook stoves. PEER hopes to complete this last and final phase by the year 2020.