Implementation of green measures for sustainable low-income housing in developing countries : guidelines for the design of new settlements in the South African context.
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In South Africa, about 15,3% of the households were living in 2011 in formal state-subsidised low-income houses (houses for households with income lower than R 3500 - about $ 350 - per month), whereas 12,1% were living in informal dwellings. The sustainable development of low-income housing is therefore one of the main challenges for developing countries addressing the green Agenda as South Africa, especially considering the quality of life of inhabitants and the complex socioeconomic implications. Furthermore, the energy consumption patterns of low income households have emerged as one of the most important factors influencing the national electricity demand, as marked by the National Housing Code of 2009. The complex social and environmental issues related to the living conditions of low-income communities need to be addressed with an integrated approach to the design of the settlements. Rethinking and greening the low-income housing design principles firstly represent an opportunity to strive social inequity and improve the quality of life of households. The rationale of this study is to investigate how a strategic bottom-up approach and multi-scale low-cost green measures, implemented in the design process of South African low-cost housing, can potentially achieve environmental and social sustainability targets with affordable solutions. The dissertation analysed a representative case study of a low-cost housing development in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The research adopted a bottom-up approach combining participatory methods through a survey and interviews with the local community, and a scenario analysis investigating design alternatives and multiscale green strategies (i.e. alternative building typologies, densification, passive design strategies). The proposed scenario evaluated the potential benefits of the green implementation, through qualitative and quantitative assessments based on sustainability indicators as environmental and energy impacts, social implications, safety and cost effectiveness, supported also by experimental methods using dynamic building energy modelling. The study promoted an integrated and holistic research and design approach to foster the sustainability in low-cost housing development. The outcome of this integrated bottom-up approach defined a framework of good criteria and methods for the design process, which can be intended as a guideline to effectively implement green measures and reach sustainability targets for low-cost settlements.