SA pupils design eco-smart homes – Independent Online
Johannesburg – Two high school girls have come up with innovative ways to make RDP houses more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
For their school project, Josephine Hazard and Maylis Pillet, Grade 12 pupils at LycÃ©e Jules Verne in Joburg, developed the â€œEco2 Houseâ€ that saves energy.
Last year, the pair did architecture-related internships, which influenced their decision.
â€œWe thought that RDP houses were an ideal way to do something related to architecture and that could also have an impact on society,â€ Josephine explained.
The pupils worked on the project for 18 weeks, visiting RDP building sites and investigating how to build a cheap but energy-efficient house.
â€œWe looked at what the ideal house (should be like) and how we can use the latest technology to improve them. We looked at how we could use local inexpensive material to build the house,â€ Josephine said.
The girls also investigated the efficient use of water, including recycling. â€œSome of the water re-utilisation technologies are very expensive. We looked at the eco loo, which is way cheaper. What you do is have a basin on top of the cistern. When you wash your hands, the water goes into the cistern and is then used to flush the toilet later.â€
Insulating the house using recycled water bottles was another of the innovations.
It costs the government about R110 000 to build one RDP house. The construction of the Eco2 House would cost about 12 percent more.
Josephine and Maylis believe it would reduce the costs in the long term. The concept would allow saving 25 percent on electricity consumption and 45 percent on water consumption in the long term.
The girls also recommended that the houses have roof overhangs, solar panels and energy- efficient light bulbs.
â€œMost households use up their free basic electricity and free basic water units every month. If they use more than that, they have to pay for the services.
â€œThe systems in the house would help them save more,â€ Josephine added.
She and Maylis want to continue with more research into the model before presenting it to the government.
They hope to enter the project in the French Physics Olympiad next year.
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