Cape Town settlements get cool roofs this summer

by Ofentse Sefolo
Cape Town settlements get cool roofs this summer

A first of its kind project in South Africa is being spearheaded by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), with the rolling out of 26 000m² of cool roofing technology in the City of Cape Town as part of the Cool Roofs and Insulation Collaboration.

“This project is being undertaken in partnership with the Thermal Insulation Products and Systems Association of South Africa (TIPSASA). The intention is to use the collected data as evidence for the mandatory inclusion of passive thermal control in the Energy Efficiency Building Code 10400 XA,” explains Denise Lundall, project officer for energy efficiency at SANEDI.

Without needing to power mechanical cooling systems, cool roofs with insulation offer significant cooling to South African homes in the heat of the summer. We want to show how powerful passive cooling is when cool coatings are used in conjunction with insulation,” explains Lundall.

Complementary cool coatings and insulation
Cool roofing involves the coating of roofs with a durable, reflective membrane which reflects the heat of the sun. It is an inexpensive and highly effective passive energy, low-tech cooling intervention. However, it is not a replacement for insulation, as cool coatings will not keep a house warm in the winter.

Lundall explains: “There was a misunderstanding when cool roofs first came into the market, where it was suggested it would replace insulation. This is not the case. Rather, we see the two solutions as complementary.

“For example, cool coatings can significantly cool a home equivalent to the cooling capacity of a four-times thicker insulation layer. A quadrupled insulation layer would be incredibly costly, with a 19- to 21-year return on investment. A cool coat on a roof with standard insulation would offer the same cooling as a four-times thicker insulation at a fraction of the cost.”

Vital community information
The communities selected for this project include the Masonwabi settlement, the Masiphumelele township on the Cape Peninsula and Morkel’s Cottage in Strand.

“When selecting the areas for this proof of the concept, it was necessary to ensure that the houses were new enough to be in a good condition, with no broken roof tiles but old enough to document the changes in temperature and engage with established residents,” says Lundall, noting that community engagements and willing residents were vital in securing the rollout with no community unrest. This means that many site visits and face-to-face interactions were crucial.

The project experienced delays due to the lockdown. However, with the use of many eager local painters, SANEDI is looking set to wrap it up in late December 2020 or early January 2021.

To implement this project, as with other cool roofing projects, SANEDI used local unemployed people and especially the youth and women. Lundall says the difference is that they provide unemployed residents with training and offer an artisan’s certificate upon completion, which is a recognised trade qualification and subsequently often leads to further employment.

“We also provide them with supervised painting experience across thousands of square metres. This gives them a huge ‘bank’ of painting experience, which will increase their chance of employment when entering the job market. In this way, we are not only adding to the comfort of these communities, but also providing economic opportunities,” concludes Lundall.

For enquiries, please contact DeniseL@sanedi.org.za.

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