Boom Flats retrofit now underway | WWF South Africa

Boom Flats retrofit now underway

Posted on 09 March 2016
Solar panels have been fitted on the roofs of the Boom Flats.
© WWF South Africa
Within the context of South Africa’s worst drought in history, unprecedented energy shortages and record-low economic growth rates, social housing institutions report that rising utility costs are driving tenants back to informal settlements in increasing numbers.

To date there has been no formal experimentation within the social housing sector to support an investment in green housing initiatives.

Together with NASHO, WWF has launched a pilot project involving the retrofit of an existing housing complex which is now well underway at Communicare’s Boom Flats in the Brooklyn area of Cape Town where more than half of the units have now been fitted with solar water geysers, double glazed windows, improved ceiling insulation, water efficient taps, showers and toilets.

While residents have noted that the dust resulting from the renovations has been taxing, they expressed gratitude for the improvements under way.

One unforeseen benefit of the project so far has been the friendships that have resulted between tenants. Project manager Jocelyn Muller explains, “At the start of this undertaking, residents kept largely to themselves. There was very little socializing, and people living in the various buildings often never knew each other at all. As part of our initial research we held a number of meetings and it seems these acted as a catalyst for the residents to begin talking. Now whenever I visit the Boom Flats, I find residents socializing, especially the retirees who have taken to sharing morning teatime.”

In addition, the food gardening efforts of a tenant in a communal area have been supported to the extent that many residents are now able to benefit from the food grown.

“I have already saved so much money as a result of the garden,” says Hester van der Merwe. “I don’t know when last I bought tomatoes. From the garden I get cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, egg plants, peppers, spinach, strawberries, mielies and carrots. It is wonderful.”

For two years following the completion of the retrofit, costs and benefits of the greening initiatives will be monitored. The findings will then be shared with key stakeholders to help inform future initiatives.
Solar panels have been fitted on the roofs of the Boom Flats.
© WWF South Africa Enlarge