HomeIndustry SectorsEnergy EfficiencyHigh school pupils design ‘green’ concept for RDP housing

High school pupils design ‘green’ concept for RDP housing

low cost housing
RDP housing is part of a government programme, which aims to meet the basic needs of the once surpressed nation. Pic credit: Moladi.com

In Johannesburg, two female high school-goers have designed an innovative concept to turn Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing into greener and more energy efficient homes.

The two grade 12 learners, Maylis Pillet and Josephine Hazard developed the energy efficient ‘Eco2 House’ model as part of a school project, which was inspired by their architecture internships last year, The Star reported.

Hazard said: “We thought that RDP houses were an ideal way to do something related to architecture and that could also have an impact on society.”

Field research

Investing a total of 18-weeks into the project, the two learners concluded site visits of existing RDP sites as well as examining and identifying the most cost-effective and energy efficient methods of constructing the houses.

Hazard explained: “We 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.”

In addition to the building materials, the most efficient use of water and recycling was also part of the investigation.

Hazard described a finding of their research: “Some 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.”


The total cost to government to build one RDP house is around ZAR110 000 ($8,800) and according to the learners’ research the Eco2 House will cost 12% more.

Despite the 12% construction increase, the savings are beneficial over the long-term. Should the model be used it will save an estimated 25% on electricity consumption and 45% on water consumption, The Star reported.


The innovative design includes roof overhangs, solar panels and energy efficient light bulbs as well as using recycled water bottles for insulation.

Hazard explained: “Most 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.

“The systems in the house would help them save more.”

Once the pupils have completed their research they plan to present their model to government as well as entering the project into the French Physics Olypiad 2016.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme

The Nelson Mandela.org website describes the Reconstruction and Development Programme as an integrated, coherent socio-economic policy framework. It seeks to mobilise all South African people and the country’s resources toward the final eradication of apartheid and the building of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist future.

The the Reconstruction and Development Programme has been drawn up by the African National Congress (ANC) alliance in consultation with other key mass organisations. A wide range of non-governmental organisations and research organisations assisted in the process.

One of the key programmes of the RDP is meeting basic needs.

The Nelson Mandela.org website explains: “The first priority is to begin to meet the basic needs of people – jobs, land, housing, water, electricity, telecommunications, transport, a clean and healthy environment, nutrition, health care and social welfare. In this way we can begin to reconstruct family and community life in our society.

“In this chapter, achievable programmes are set out for the next five years. These include programmes to redistribute a substantial amount of land to landless people, build over one million houses, provide clean water and sanitation to all, electrify 2,5 million new homes and provide access for all to affordable health care and telecommunications. The success of these programmes is essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.”

Homepage pic credit: Moladi.com

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.