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BETTER BUYINGSustainable and eco-friendly design solutions by local companiesCharmone WallaceAs the world's population rapidly approaches 8 billion, the linear economy's old "single use, disposable" paradigm no longer makes sense and is leading us down a path of uncertainty for our planet. As a result of this realisation, more companies are making the switch to more eco-friendly options, design solutions have emerged and evolved to include a production process that incorporates environmental protection principles into every phase of every project, from conception to development, transporting and recycling. If we are not careful our precious natural resources will eventually run out, ensuring a very bleak future for our planet. Some materials, like water, are vital sources of life, while minerals are essential to key sectors of life and the economy. Add CO2 and the amount of energy used by manufacturers to the equation and the price our planet has to pay is unsustainable. With Greenpeace confirming human consumption of natural resources has doubled over the last 30 years, it's time for us to not only make the change but be the change by opting for sustainable, eco-friendly solutions in every aspect of our lives.
With this principle in mind, Andy Horn established Eco Design Architects and Consultants, a company solely focused on environmentally friendly, natural building and consulting. Andy established his business in 1998, and since then it has been at the forefront of South Africa's green building movement, winning several international prizes in the field of ecological design. Amongst those rewards, Eco Design took home the Sustainable Building Best Practice Award in 2004 where Andy and his team built a staffing house in Mtunzini, Kwa-Zulu Natal. The structure was made of sandbags, with a load-bearing ladder-frame made of locally sourced invasive aliens and a roof made of rafter purlin gum poles.
The housing included solar water heating and dry composting toilets. The Mtunzini community engaged in building the housing and played a crucial part in the process of bringing this design solution to life. Another company 'keeping it clean' in Gauteng is Ikhaya Futurehouse (IFHS) focusing on insulation, wall, and slab building panels for an eco-friendlier and greener environment. Established in 2006, Ikhaya aims to offer a fully integrated package of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient building systems. Their thermally insulated wall panels are designed to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Ikhaya's wall panels offer very little maintenance costs but have the looks of concrete. It is cost-competitive with brick and mortar, making it an affordable choice in making changes towards a more sustainable tomorrow.
The Futurehouse system, according to IFHS, offers "the best combination of performance, ease of building, and economy for the African market". These companies are not only revolutionising the way we approach eco-friendly design solutions in South Africa, but also proving that going green isn't necessarily costly. They are shedding light on the true motto to living more sustainably and eco-friendlier: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.