Are we all 'greenwashed'?
The Green Building Council has been hosting its third annual conference in Cape Town this week and it has been a particularly interesting experience for me, the cynic, to see just how many people are committed to changing the way we build, the way we protect our environment and the way we integrate different 'green' elements into our everyday lives.
These are all remarkably laudable goals and I certainly do believe that these kinds of initiatives will have sustainable benefits for the country in the longer term.
But first let me dwell on some of the obvious ironies: About 70% of the delegates attending the conference are from Johannesburg (or from other continents), so the carbon footprint to get people here was enormous. The exhibitors' hall is filled with plastic, whether for displays, pens, hoardings or coffee stalls. Wherever you look there is plastic.
Landlords slammed for shoddy buildings
South African property owners and landlords have been sharply criticised for not investing in the properties, not maintaining them and not doing anything to improve the surrounding areas.
Ashraf Adam, chief operating officer of the Department of Public Works, said many of the buildings are in a shameful state that clearly shows how little is spent on maintaining them.
"Government is spending millions of rands on renting properties that are not properly maintained by the owners," he told delegates at the opening of the Green Building Conference being held at Cape Town's International Convention Centre (CTICC).
Adam, who took over as the chief operating officer just three weeks ago, says that on his first day in office he was handed a report that examined levels of corruption within the department, then the next day he had to deal with a public service strike and from then on it just went from bad to worse.
"I am here today to make all of you feel uncomfortable," he said.
Major savings for green developers
Buildings throughout the world are responsible for 40% of the global greenhouse gas emission and contribute about 40% of the solid waste generation globally according to Joe Van Bellegham, chief executive of Canadian company Lend Lease.
He was addressing delegates attending the Green Building Conference in Cape Town's International Convention Centre and he points out that buildings around the world actually consume about 12% of the world's water while the air quality in these buildings typically contains about five times more pollutants than outdoor air.
"This leads us to the astonishing statistic that buildings consume about one third of the world's resources each year," he said. "This sort of consumption and wasteful use of resources cannot continue indefinitely and the business community, or more specifically, property developers have to change the way they create offices, shops and apartments throughout the world," he added.
Get advice before you buy-to-rent
It would be easy to assume that the market for rentals is experiencing a boom as a result of numerous factors.
Certainly the National Credit Act put a spanner in the works for many people that would have previously qualified for a bond, but no longer meet the criteria in terms of overall expenses and affordability.
Thus, other than adopting a radical shift in living standards, rentals are the obvious choice for many people in order to maintain their current lifestyle.
Additionally, those that have to readjust their finances and consolidate their burgeoning debt are turning to rentals as a short-term solution while they 'get back on their feet'.
Cash is king with super rich buyers
A large percentage of the world's super rich pays cash for their pricey property purchases.
This seems to also be the case in SA where the super luxurious market is characterised by properties costing more than R10m.
Rael Levitt, CE of Auction Alliance, says 60% of buyers that purchase properties of more than R10m do so without bond finance.
Knysna on the Garden Route remains a sought-after destination for super rich buyers, foreigners as well as South Africans, says Ling Dobsen, area principle for Pam Golding Properties (PGP).
Tips to make your home burglar-safe
Criminals may commit a different type of crime if they are prevented from committing their crime of choice.
And when faced with a serious deterrent, they may move to a different location where a crime is easier to commit. Known as crime displacement, criminals usually seek the path of least resistance.
Chubb Security suggests the following tips to assist you to protect yourself and your home from the common burglar.
Water heating options
About half of your monthly electricity bill goes towards heating water.
Electrical geysers are efficient water heaters, but they are totally reliant on electrical power. That means you will have a cold shower if there's a power outage. Electricity is already expensive and power costs are set to rise a total of 75% this year and over the following two years. Clearly, it's time to look for alternatives.
So what are your water heating options if you want to cut down your power bills and what are the pros and cons of each?