The ‘My Green Home Challenge’ invites South Africans to make changes to their home to help the earth

Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Monday, June 2, 2014

<p>The Ngewana family are taking on the My Green Home Challenge to inspire and inform other South Africans. [Source: Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA)]</p>

The Ngewana family are taking on the My Green Home Challenge to inspire and inform other South Africans. [Source: Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA)]

The My Green Home challenge follows the journey of a South African family as they change their mind set, alter their lifestyle and undergo a ‘green home makeover’.  The Ngewana Family believe that changing their home can help to change the world and hope to inform and inspire others to take action in their own homes. The aim of the challenge is to show the positive impact that one family can have by leading a more energy efficient and environmentally conscious lifestyle. “We are very much open to change, that’s why we have volunteered ourselves to become a change agent. I think that one family can have a big difference,” said Zwelethu Ngewana.

The initiative

My Green Home is an initiative of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) and is co-funded by the German government through the South African – German Energy Programme (SAGEN). “The Green Building Council South Africa leads the transformation of the South African property industry towards environmental sustainability. We started by influencing commercial property market, primarily, but MyGreenHome moves to the level of our individual homes where we and our families can all get involved,” says Brian Wilkinson CEO of GBCSA.

The Ngewana Family

The Ngewanas have been living in their double storey, five bedroom home for the past 11 years. Zwelethu, the father is a senior lecturer in the field of mechanical engineering. Bulelwa, the mother is a planner by profession. They have two children, 22 year old Thulisa an interior design student, and 17 year old Lutholuthle who is a high school student. Unam, their 14 year old niece is a high school student who boards with the family. “My family is quite bad when it comes to using lots of energy, we tend to leave lights on, TVs on and take horribly long showers. We really wanted to try something new and see how we can better ourselves in this regard. We’ve never really paid much attention to how we impact the environment and how much we’re wasting, so we thought it would be a good idea to change how we are now instead of having to worry about it in the future,” said Lutholuthle Ngewana.

The journey

The journey began in February and will continue until the end of August. In February electricity and water meters were installed at the Ngewana residence to help measure and analyse their consumption. The following month the family’s behaviour and usage was monitored as they went along their daily activities as usual to provide baseline information. The challenge officially began in April as the family received training to change their habits and behaviour, their aim for this month was to reduce their electricity consumption by 15% with no cost changes. In May the Ngewana household will be retrofitted with energy efficient technology and environmentally friendly products.  In June, once the house is as energy efficient as possible solar power will be introduced. The installation of photovoltaic panels will help the Ngewanas to meet their energy needs and achieve their goal to reduce their electricity consumption by 40%. The family has also set the goal of reducing their water consumption by 20% and recycling 75% of their waste.

Join the challenge

The challenge invites South Africans to participate by learning tips to improve one’s daily habits, save money and help save the Earth. There are lessons to be learnt from watching webisodes of the Ngewanas journey. There is also a host of information, useful advice and resources available on the website. In addition the site will cover a theme each week to help the public learn more about specific aspects of greening their homes. The Ngewanas are encouraging other South Africans to participate, “See what you can do in your own home and how big a difference you can make,” said Zwelethu Ngewana. “I think that by you making a decision or a conscience movement to change, you’ll start helping the environment [to] heal a little more. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but it does have to be something,” said Thulisa Ngewana.

For more information, visit the My Green Home Challenge website.

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