Team Mahali, featuring three lecturers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and both former and current students from Cape Town who specialise in architecture, engineering and sustainability are joining together to compete in an international competition to create the perfect net-zero-energy house.

Solar Decathlon Africa in Morocco challenges a number of elite collegiate teams to design and build a modular “green” house of between 55 and 110 square metres, using local ingenuity, craftsmanship, and materials.

The goal of the competition is to promote sustainable housing, because of this competitors have to construct a home that uses only solar energy and is equipped with technically-advanced building and energy technologies.

The competition grounds where the competing houses are built.

The local team is based at Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute. UCT senior lecturers Mike Louw and Kevin Fellingham (School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics), and Dr Dyllon Randall (Department of Civil Engineering) have been recruited for their design skills and knowledge of innovative waste-water systems.

Former and current students in the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment Gordon Rae, Muven Naidoo and Elouise Pretorius are leading the team.

Rae, Naidoo, and Pretorius are implementing a wide range of sustainable water practices and technology into the house, ranging from composting toilets and grey-water systems to advanced water management and monitoring, as well as rainwater harvesting.


Team Las Vegas Solar Decathlon 2017

The competition is organised by the Moroccan Research Institute in Solar Energy and New Energies and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, under the aegis of the Moroccan Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development.

Team Mahali is the only finalist from sub-Saharan Africa. Their house will be built in Stellenbosch, then dismantled and shipped to Morocco for reassembly on the test sites in Mohammed VI Green City in Benguerir. During the final phase of the competition, the houses will be open to the public.

The Swiss Team’s building from 2017.

Each entry to the Solar Decathlon is judged in 10 separately scored contests: architecture, engineering and construction, market appeal, communication and social awareness, appliances, home life and entertainment, sustainability, health and comfort, electrical energy balance, and innovation. Each design must also make provision for a solar battery powered car.

The submission day for their design is closing in this mid-November, after which the team will move onto completing their construction documentation.

The biggest challenge that lies ahead, however, is funding. The team needs to raise R3 million and they are looking for funders and locals or retailers to donate furniture or energy-efficient appliances.

Two members of Team Mahali recently cycled 1 000 km across Morocco to raise funds. They have also launched a crowd-funding campaign, where locals can support their efforts: 


Picture: Facebook

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