Welcome to Green Street South Africa

03 December 2011 | News story

Just fifteen minutes away from the UN Climate Summit in Durban you can see what a real difference putting policy in to action can actually make. In a first for South Africa, 30 low-income houses in a street in Cato Manor Township have been given a green upgrade.  

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has been at work with partners that include IUCN member the Botanical Society of South Africa and the local city council. Sarah Rushmore of the GBCSA explains what they've been up to.

The 30 houses in this retrofit project are along a little cul-de-sac in Cato Manor - South Africa’s first ‘Green Street’ retrofit. Deliwe Nobekwa is a long time local resident. In the three weeks since she's had her home "retrofitted" to green technologies she has seen her electricity bill more than halve. She tells us more.

The project demonstrates a range of benefits which are possible from greening low-income housing. Benefits include energy cost saving, reduced illness and safety risks, skills training and job creation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact and better water and food security.

South Africa has built millions of low-income homes in the past fifteen years, but so far green considerations have not generally been a priority. Worldwide one in every three tons of carbon is from buildings. By improving the energy efficiency of low-income homes one reduces energy costs, the health burden and safety risks for residents, and also reduces environmental damage.

The great news is that the project in Cato Manor has been put in place very quickly. GBCSA's Sarah Rushmere explains.

The area has certainly changed over the past thirty years. One person who knows all about that is the Head of IUCN's Protected Areas Programme, Trevor Sandwith, who first worked here as student around 30 years ago. He explained how the housing development in Cato Manor had taken the environment in to consideration.

IUCN member, the Botanical Society of South Africa (known as the BotSoc) has been working on the food gardens, tree planting and other landscaping and greening elements.

Zaitoon Rabaney is Executive Director of BotSoc. She tells us that the planting is all based on indigenous knowledge.

James Halle from the Durban branch of the BotSoc had been involved that morning in the planting. He explains exactly what plants have been put in.

The street didn’t have a name before. But the community have now named it “Isimosezulu (meaning ‘climate’) COP17 Place’.