Since experiencing its first recession in seventeen years, the South African economy continues to weather the storms of the economic downturn. As one of the industries that was hardest-hit, most in the construction industry remain vulnerable to the pressures of the 2008 global recession as they struggle to rise above it. The subsequent contraction in commercial and public works projects and the housing downturn is yet to show a significant improvement. In the meantime, the industry has to be content with the low-margin environment created by the recession and stiff competition for the little work there is.
Having been running for 3 years now, the AfriSam-SAIA awards have gained momentum. The final closing date of 20 March for the 2014 award is around the corner, leaving just a few more days for eligible entries to be submitted for consideration.
Apart from the opportunity to raise awareness on the pressing issue of sustainability in the built environment, the entrants not only get a chance to show their talents, but receive personal and professional recognition from the industry as well. The awards show-case qualifying designs on the dedicated website and prove to the world the endless possibilities for sustainable architecture.
Like others, the construction industry keenly awaited the 2014 budget speech, eager to learn what relief could be expected. Following the 2008 global recession, the global economy remains unstable, with many economies struggling to keep their heads above water. South Africa has been no different. The last few years have been difficult, characterised by tough trading conditions, a weakening currency and on-going labour unrests. We continue to experience slower than expected growth, leaving most industries desperate for relief.
As part of a global community, South Africa remains vulnerable to economic pressures from elsewhere in the world. Like many other markets across the globe, South Africa showed the first signs of growth in 2013. While this is still far from ideal, this trend is expected to continue in 2014 and 2015 as opportunities like exports present themselves.
The South African construction industry is acknowledging its environmental responsibilities by increasingly embracing green construction methods. This trend also recognises that soon sustainable design will be considered a non-negotiable industry requirement. A great deal of time and investment has already been channelled into exploring ways to improve the full spectrum of building processes in order to make a meaningful contribution towards sustainable development in the region.
However, this kind of change begins in the design phase where sustainable or green design methods ensure that a structure complies with the principles of social, economic and ecological sustainability.
Like many other industries, the construction industry has had to re-think its relationship with the environment. Gradually, we are starting to embrace aspects of green construction and accepting our responsibility to the environment. We are exploring better ways of doing things and have had to critically look at our processes as we strive to contribute towards sustainable development.
By definition, sustainable design, also known as green design, is the philosophy of designing to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability. It is widely accepted that the architectural world, by virtue of being responsible for the initial design of a project, has a critical role to play in influencing sustainable design.
A course on good concrete practices and cement manufacturing developed by AfriSam has been qualified by the South African Institute of Civil Engineers (SAICE) to be presented as part of its CPD (Continuous Personal Development) initiative. The new course was reviewed by an external academic and accredited with 0.4 CPD points.
Mike McDonald, AfriSam product manager, says the new course is a first for the South African engineering world in that it is the first time an industry role player has offered a course of this calibre to the professional engineering fraternity free of charge.
Global warming, a gradual increase in planet-wide temperatures, has been one of mankind’s greatest challenges of the 21st century. Nonetheless, scientists across the world stress that there is hope. There are some measures that we can take to prevent any further harm to our environment.
The recent United Nations conference on climate change also highlighted that with a change in behaviour, we can still combat climate change. However, there is an urgent need for all countries to drive towards the global emissions budget as a guiding principle towards reducing greenhouse gases. It will take the whole world working together to make a difference.
Through the decades, the built environment has evolved in response to the changing needs of society and to support this evolution, cement technology has continued to advance. The 20th century concept of so-called "pure" Portland cement is rapidly becoming obsolete with the development of technologically advanced composite cements far more suited to the visionary needs of the present century.
“Our challenge is to balance the increasing demands of ever more sophisticated business and industry against a fragile environment under increasing pressure,” Grant Neser, AfriSam’s Sales and Marketing Executive, says. "We cannot afford to keep producing cements with conventional technologies that generate large quantities of carbon dioxide emissions, when we have the option of using more technologically advanced composite cements that offer additional advantages."
WBHO commenced construction of Standard Bank's new Rosebank offices in June 2010 and achieved practical completion in May 2013. The 65 000m² of offices will house a workforce of 5 000 in two buildings of nine and 11 floors connected by a cental glass atrium. Four thousand parking bays have been provided in a basement consisting of five underground levels.
The project has been awarded a 5 start GBCSA rating for sustainability while the 'As-Built' rating is pending.
One of AfriSam’s objectives is to be a partner of choice to its cement and concrete customers and has introduced several changes within the organisation to achieve this goal.
Among these changes is a “single selling organisation” strategy, which is well on track to create a single point of contact for all customers in order to provide support across AfriSam’s entire product range. AfriSam created a Centre of Product excellence (CPE) which is, amongst other activities, focussed on customer support.
AfriSam continues to differentiate itself in the South African readymix market with the introduction of pre-blended dry mix mortar and plaster products delivered to building sites in a conventional bulk cement tanker, where it is pneumatically pumped into a sealed silo. This method effectively eliminates dust entering the site from this source, making it far more environmentally friendly than the traditional method of delivering a dry mixture in open vehicles and gravity feeding into a site-based silo.
Four committed and passionate young learners who can’t afford the high school education they deserve will now, as a result of Ride 4 Education’s fundraising efforts, be able to go to high school.
There is a great deal of discussion around the use of extenders in concrete. However, in order to ensure a blend that is uncompromised in strength and integrity, extensive experience and knowledge are needed. AfriSam is able to leverage a multitude of applications in the successful application of chemical admixture technologies.
A newly constituted industry body, The Concrete Institute, funded by AfriSam, Lafarge and new cement producer, Sephaku, will continue the valuable services provided by the Cement & Concrete Institute (C&CI), which closed down in April this year after 75 years of service to the industry, following the withdrawal of funding from some key funding members. It is hoped that this new body will also play a role in uniting other representative bodies in the built environment to present a more united front to government.
AfriSam has raised funds for Mants’ase Children’s Home in Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, through its Mbeu initiative. The funds were handed over to the home at a celebratory gathering this morning.
AfriSam has received an overwhelmingly positive response from members of several rural communities to a pilot initiative that is seeing the cement giant sell its cement products out of “retail outlet” containers in these outlying areas.
Leading black-controlled construction materials group, AfriSam, has handed over newly-built ablution facilities to the pupils and teachers of Metoloaneng Primary School. This follows years of the school’s operating without such facilities.
AfriSam, has donated a sixteen-seater minibus to Morester Children’s Home in Rustenburg. The minibus will be used to transport the resident children to and from school as well as take them to functions and other activities which they need to attend.
AfriSam is preparing for future demand by making investments in a variety of expansion projects designed to boost its internal capacity. The company has also re-engineered its entire product portfolio to meet future demand and avoid shortages.
AfriSam has achieved another significant milestone in its history by becoming the first construction materials company to sign the 49M pledge. This step signifies the company’s commitment to the global agenda for energy efficiency as well asplaying a hands-on role in contributing to energy saving across South Africa.
AfriSam has announced that it has signed a lease agreement with the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) for the establishment of a cementitious milling and blending plant in Zone 5 of the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
AfriSam is poised to expand its footprint into Africa with the decision to go ahead with the construction of a second kiln at the Tanga Cement plant in Tanzania.
AfriSam, in partnership with the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) in Cape Town, has upgraded a learning facility for thirty-eight children at Jenny’s Daycare in Chatsworth, Swartland Municipality.
AfriSam has introduced a new range of branded premixed products that are expected not only to set the industry benchmark in terms of quality, but also to uplift communities around the country.
Construction materials producer, AfriSam, has gone beyond its business norm to assist in the economic growth of women in the Roodepoort, Johannesburg region.
AfriSam has been commended for the high quality and consistent strength above specification of ready mixed concrete delivered to Tharisa Mine’s R1billion chromite and platinum expansion project near Marikana in North West Province.
A year ago, a few women from Rethabiseng, outside Bronkhorstspruit, were struggling to make a living off the sales of their chickens to the local community. Today, just twelve months on, a multi-million rand enterprise development initiative from AfriSam will see these women’s dream of having a good income from sustainable farming come true.
AfriSama’s new specialist road stabilisation product, Roadstab Cement, delivered outstanding results in tests conducted on the higher clay containing soils found in the Free State, during stabilisation projects on the N8 in Tweespruit in the Free State, the N1 from Fonteintjie to Wurasoord, the N6 at Smithfield and the N5 from Bethlehem to Kestell.
AfriSam has launched an innovative new specialist product designed for road stabilisation applications. Called Roadstab Cement, the new product has been undergoing research, development and testing for the past three years.