Assessing the sustainable infrastructure of a low carbon community : Lynedoch EcoVillage case study

Bloem, Sharne (2019-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Urban areas are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions and the rapid growth in urbanisation presents a significant risk to cities. It is predicted that by 2030 more than 70% of the South African population will be living in cities. The decarbonisation of urban systems, especially building and energy infrastructures are therefore strategically important in mitigating climate change. Although reaching the goals of sustainability is complex and with few straightforward answers, experimentation is deemed necessary, and the biggest challenge of our time is for our carbon-based economy to transition into a circular economy ultimately. Some intentional communities globally have been experimenting with re-imagining socio-technical aspects of this nature. Four of these communities have been examined in this study - having not just adopted specific facets of sustainability but incorporated a whole sustainability system within different contexts. The similarities and differences of three have been compared with the fourth, the main case study. Lynedoch EcoVillage is an intentional community in the Western Cape province of South Africa that has applied alternative building practice. Recently twenty-seven households also became part of a micro-grid pilot project by Eskom Research, Testing and Development Laboratory. This micro-grid is an embedded photovoltaic (PV) solar system, inclusive of smart meters, with the aim of producing energy locally. This study assessed the current sustainable infrastructure in Lynedoch EcoVillage and interrogated the low carbon neighbourhood’s sustainability claims, inclusive of the influence the human factor has had on implementing these experiments. This was accomplished by analysing four neighbourhood sustainability assessment (NSA) tools and comparing these with the ecological design framework of Bill Reed. The aim was to determine the best tool set for measuring restorative sustainability in the light of embodied energy, design (energy efficiency) and flow (energy use). Although this thesis highlights the limitations of NSA tools and features the valued experimental sustainable performance of these intentional communities outside of conventional practice, possible context-specific uniquely-developed measuring tools could reach into these gaps and measure sustainability more accurately. A further comparison was done between the sustainable infrastructure in Lynedoch EcoVillage and conventional infrastructure within middl e class neighbourhoods and how experimentation with materials, building design principles and energy systems could decrease embodied energy, advance energy efficiency and lead to less overall energy use. Through indicative data collection of embodied energy, energy efficiency and energy use, the alternative building materials, sustainable building design principles and specific socio-technical aspects used in Lynedoch EcoVillage, has shown to outperform the energy efficiency of the same micro-grid system in a conventional building application by 60-70%.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : 70% Van globale CO2-emissies word toegeskryf aan stedelike groei, en die vinnige toename in verstedeliking bied ‘n groot risiko. Daar word voorspel dat teen 2030 meer as 70% van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking in stede sal woon. Enige middels om koolstof in stedelike stelsels te minimaliseer, veral in die bou- en energie-infrastruktuur, is dus strategies belangrik om klimaatsverandering te bestry. Alhoewel die bereiking van die doelwitte vir volhoubaarheid kompleks is, met min eenvoudige antwoorde, word eksperimentering nodig geag. Die grootste uitdaging wat ons in die gesig staar, is om ons koolstofgebaseerde-ekonomie oor te skakel na 'n sirkulêreekonomie. Sommige doelbewuste gemeenskappe, in verskillende geografiese gebiede, eksperimenteer tans met die herontwerp van sosio-tegniese aspekte van hierdie aard. Vier van hierdie gemeenskappe word in hierdie studie ondersoek – hulle het nie net spesifieke fasette van volhoubaarheid toegepas nie, maar probeer ook 'n hele volhoubaarheidstelsel binne verskillende kontekste toepas. Die ooreenkomste en verskille van drie word vergelyk met die vierde, die kernstudie. Lynedoch EcoVillage is 'n doelbewuste gemeenskap in die Wes-Kaap, Suid-Afrika, wat alternatiewe boupraktyk toegepas het. Onlangs het sewe-en-twintig huishoudings ook deelgeneem aan 'n mikro-krag netwerk projek van Eskom se Navorsings-, Toets- en Ontwikkelingslaboratorium. Hierdie mikro-krag netwerk is 'n ingeboude fotovoltaïese (PV) sonkragstelsel, insluitend ‘smart’- meters, om plaaslike energie te produseer. Die studie het die huidige volhoubare infrastruktuur in Lynedoch EcoVillage, asook hul lae-koolstof-bewerings ondersoek, insluitend die invloed wat die menslike faktor op die implementering van so ’n eksperiment kon het. Dit is onderneem deur die ontleding van vier omgewingsvolhoubaarheidsevaluerings (NSA) en dié dan te vergelyk met die ekologiese ontwerpraamwerk van Bill Reed. Die doel was om die beste instrumentestel vir herstellende volhoubaarheid te bepaal in terme van ingeslote energie, ontwerp (energie-effektiwiteit) en vloei (energieverbruik). Hierdie proefskrif beklemtoon die beperkings van volhoubaarheidsevaluering-instrumente, terwyl dit die waardevolle eksperimentele volhoubare prestasies van doelbewuste gemeenskappe, buite die konvensionele praktyk erken. Moontlike konteks-spesifieke en uniek-ontwikkelde evaluering-instrumente kan in hierdie beperkings aanvul om volhoubaarheid meer akkuraat meet. 'n Verdere vergelyking is getref tussen die volhoubare infrastruktuur in Lynedoch EcoVillage en ’n konvensionele infrastruktuur van ‘n middelklasgemeenskap - en hoe eksperimentering met boumateriale, bouontwerpbeginsels, en energiestelsels, ingeslote energie kon verminder, energie-doeltreffendheid kon verhoog, en algemene energieverbruik kon verminder. Deur middel van indikatiewe data-insameling van ingeslote energie, energie-doeltreffendheid en energieverbruik, is daar bevind dat die alternatiewe boumateriale, volhoubare bouontwerpbeginsels en sosio-tegniese aspekte wat in Lynedoch EcoVillage toegepas is, die energie-doeltreffendheid van dieselfde mikro-krag netwerk in ‘n konvensionele boutoepassing met 60-70% oorskrei het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105875
This item appears in the following collections: