Solid Green appointed for CoJ EcoDistrict Methodology

Solid Green appointed for CoJ EcoDistrict Methodology

In October 2019, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) called for proposals to develop an EcoDistrict Methodology.

The request was for a multi-disciplinary team to render modelling, design and costing services for the development and testing of a methodology for creating EcoDistricts in the City of Johannesburg. Solid Green jumped at the opportunity, and we spent much time thinking through the tender document and responding to the requirements with a proposal masterpiece.

In March 2020, the City informed us that a little celebration dance was in order! Our EcoDistrict team consists of Solid Green, Activate Architecture, KDM Quantity Surveyors and Satplan. From the Solid Green team, Marloes Reinink and Adrie Fourie are the overall sustainability leads for the project team; Chilufya Lombe and Alex Varughese are in charge of the modelling; and Zendre Compion is the EcoDistricts Accredited Professional guiding the team through developing an appropriate methodology suitable to the CoJ.

The overall aim of the project focusses on reducing the carbon footprint of the city and on allowing for better adaptation to the challenging climatic conditions the world is facing. The project must achieve the following objectives through its methodology:

  • Develop CoJ’s approach to neighbourhood and district-scale equitable and sustainable development.
  • Explore different facets of sustainable District Design.
  • Guide Public and Private interventions and investments in the EcoDistrict to achieve greater sustainability.
  • Draw together this learning as a tool for the City to inform its policy, standards and guidelines towards a sustainable low carbon future.

The EcoDistricts Protocol is an urban development framework for achieving people-centred, economically vibrant, resource efficient, neighbourhood- and district-scale sustainability. The tool is a freely-available, flexible performance framework rather than a prescriptive standard, recognising that every neighbourhood or precinct has a unique history, set of challenges and opportunities – and therefore its own individual ability and need to advance a place-based sustainability agenda.

The study area for this project is Orange Grove Special Development Zone, a neighbourhood in Johannesburg that is part of the Corridors of Freedom. The team will be looking at sustainability issues at the building, block, precinct and neighbourhood scale. Some of the outputs will centre on developing a carbon model that sets a baseline and targets for emission reduction goals and pathways, as well as new standards and guidelines for EcoDistricts to meet local context and constraints.

Says Liana Strydom, spatial planner at the City of Johannesburg:

Neighborhoods provide a unique scale to accelerate innovation and impact: small enough to innovate, yet big enough to leverage long-term investment and public policy. Orange Grove, and specifically the area identified as a Transit-Oriented-Development precinct, provides an excellent case study to prioritize the right kind of investments at the right scale – and also to consider the impact that investments will have in either creating more or less inclusiveness.

Reinink adds:

With the current global health crisis, we believe that this forward-thinking work is more important than ever before. Research shows that those who are most vulnerable to health hazards, namely those living in under-served communities , are also those who are most at risk from climate change. This includes the health risks posed by air pollution , which is linked to higher rates of death in people with Covid-19. EcoDistricts are therefore essential to the City’s pursuit of spatial equity.

Solid Green is excited to be working on this ground-breaking project, and wholeheartedly supports the forward thinking of the City of Johannesburg. We hope to contribute proactively to the sustainability of the city in which we live.

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