Gauge is developing a design for a recycling trolley to support informal recyclers. The trolley will be robust, low cost and easy to manufacture. It can be hand-pushed or used as a cycle trailer. Tools to compact waste will be included as an add-on.
Gauge is developing a low-cost sustainable housing kit. The system is based on modular insulated panels that can be assembled to produce a low-cost tiny house. The modular approach enables this to be easily added to over time, and as resources allow. Panels made of grown materials come in a range of different types, enabling houses to be tailored to sites, budgets, and users. Assembly is easy and only requires basic skills and hand tools. A framed structural system allows construction on uneven or sloping ground enabling difficult sites to be used. Sustainable systems including renewable energy, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets and greywater systems form part of the kit. If you are interested in the kit, please contact us.
Based on their work in developing pilot housing, Gauge was asked to submit proposals for pilot housing which investigated methods discouraging mosquito entry into buildings as a way of reducing malaria transmission. A literature review was carried out and came up with the following interesting findings.
Mosquitoes are characterized as poor fliers and are negatively affected by flowing air (Service, 1980) Service (1980) finds that mosquitoes drastically reduce host seeking flights when wind speeds exceed 3km/hr. Résearch by Rogozi et al (2012) on the capturability of adult mosquitoes find that there is an inverse relationship between windspeeds and the number of mosquitoes caught. Hoffmann and Miller (2003) investigate the utility of wind in the suppression of mosquitoes and conclude that ‘fan-generated’ wind can be an effective way of protecting humans from mosquitoes.
Sleeping on a raised structure was a technique used in ancient Egypt to avoid mosquitoes (de Selincourt, 2002). In research in Vietnam, Laderman (1975) found that hill people built their houses on stilts to avoid mosquitoes which seldom flew higher than 2 to 3 meters above ground level. Charlwood et al (2003) found that buildings built on legs off the ground had half the number of mosquitoes in them compared to buildings on ground level. Their research indicated that there could be an 18-fold difference in exposure to malaria vectors between houses built on the ground and on stilts 10m apart.
Sambali et al (2011) carried out research on the use of live plants as a means of reducing mosquito entry into housing in Tanzania. Their study showed that planting densely foliated Lantana Camara around houses reduced the presence of mosquitoes by 50% compared to houses without planting. They find that there is broad community acceptance of Lantana and that planting sufficient plants to achieve mosquito repellent for one home cost about 30c per person.
Seyoum, et al 2003 investigated the extent to which Ocimum americanum, Lantana camara and Lippia ukambensis repelled mosquitoes in buildings. Plants in pots were placed under eaves in buildings in Kenya and findings indicated that Ocimum americanum reduced mosquitoes in buildings by 37% and that Lantana camara reduced mosquitoes by 27% compared to buildings where there were no plants. Seyoum concludes that the use potted plants are a highly cost-effective means of achieving household protection against mosquitoes in buildings.
Projects based on this investigation have been proposed and involve the construction of simple housing types that can be used to assess the efficacy of different methods of repelling mosquitoes.
Gauge has recently completed the Integrating New Knowledge Areas study. This explores how new thinking can be integrated into built environment professionals competencies. It analyses how changes such as technological advances, legislative changes and societal demands can be understood and translated into up-to-date, responsive professional practice. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programmes, tertiary education curriculum development, short courses and online portals are identified as suitable mechanisms to support this integration.
The study develops a number of proposals that can be adopted by built environment professional councils, universities, and governments to ensure that built environment professional capacity is able to meet emerging demands within the built environment.
There is an increasing concern about reducing the impact of the urban heat island effect as cities become warmer with climate change. Buildings, parking, and pavements, by capturing and storing heat, can result in temperatures within cities being 6 degrees C warmer than the surrounding countryside.
In Los Angeles, addressing this heat intensity has become a priority, with the mayor pledging to reduce average city temperatures. To achieve this, the city is painting its pavements gray to reduce heat absorption. Initial results appear promising with tests indicating that temperature reductions of 6 degrees C could be achieved.
The health impacts associated with increased temperatures from the urban heat islands and climate change are hard to detect. This is because hotter conditions worsen existing poor health related to conditions such as heart and lung diseases, diabetes and asthma. Ill health and deaths, therefore, are often not attributed to increased temperatures and the full effect of high temperatures may not have been fully measured.
Higher temperatures not only affect people with ill-health but also on poorer people who live in buildings without insulation and mechanical cooling. It also affects learners in poorly ventilated schools and patients in overcrowded hospitals.
New developments in cities must, therefore, reduce the heat island effect by incorporating lighter colours, more trees and vegetation and providing for breeze paths that enable winds to cool the city. Cities must also develop building upgrade programmes that ensure that roofs are lighter coloured and adequately insulated. In addition, to these infrastructure measures to reduce heat stress, city occupants should be encouraged to develop behaviours which reduce heat stress such as drinking water regularly and avoiding vigorous activities during the hottest parts of the day.
- Is your building performing well?
- How does your building compare to local and international best practice?
- Would you like your building to be more sustainable, efficient, inclusive and cost less to operate?
A rapid building performance assessment evaluates buildings against best practice standards in building technology, facilities management and operational performance in a range of performance areas such as energy, water, waste, indoor environmental quality and access for people with disabilities.
Assessment reports identify gaps in relation to standards and potential performance and provide guidance on interventions that can be used to achieve better buildings and performance.
Implementing recommendations from a rapid building performance assessment can lead to the following benefits:
- Reduced operational costs
- Improved compliance with legislation
- Improved working environments
- Increased productivity
- Improved image
- increased building value
- Reduced risk
Gauge has carried out a wide range of building performance assessments including assessments of BP and Deutsche Bank offices in Johannesburg and the Muckleneuk campus of UNISA. If you would like a quote on a rapid building performance assessment or would like additional information, please complete this form.
Many existing buildings perform badly in terms of energy, water, waste and access for people with disabilities. In most cases, this can be easily addressed through improved building management capacity and by undertaking simple building interventions. There many reasons to do this including:
- Compliance with policy and legislation
- Improved environmental performance
- Reduced operational costs
- Increased efficiencies and better return on investment
- Reduced downtime
- Improved morale
Poor building performance provides excellent opportunities for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges who are well placed to address by through the development of responsive technical training.
So what is responsive technical training? Responsive technical training describes courses and training that are developed to rapidly and effectively address emerging societal, environmental and economic needs.
This can be illustrated through an example. When a city, such as Cape Town, is faced with the prospect of water shortages, local TVET colleges could develop courses on efficient water fitting upgrades, water audits, rainwater harvesting and greywater system installation. This training could ensure households rapidly reduced water consumption and would enable the development of entrepreneurs who could help rapidly improve the efficiency of outdated water systems.
This is one example of a range of courses that could be run by TVET colleges to improve building performance. Others could include:
- Energy efficiency audits in buildings
- Water efficiency audit in buildings
- Waste audits in buildings
- Disabled access auditing of buildings
- Energy efficient technologies and management
- Water efficient technologies and management
- Recycling system design and management
- Inclusive organisation design and management
Gauge has developed a range of tools, such as water and energy auditing and modelling tools, and methodologies, such as energy auditing and disabled access audit methodologies, as well as training programmes (Building Energy Audit Training, Sustainable Facilities Management, and Environmental Access training) to support these type of programmes. Please get in touch if you would like to partner with us on the development of these type of courses.