What is it?

The City of Johannesburg is currently implementing a ‘Climate Proofing of Urban Communities’ Project in 700 Cosmo City low-income houses. Climate proofing involves promoting development that reduces the risks of climate change.

How does it work?

The Climate Proofing project involves the roll out of low-pressure Solar Water Heater (SWH) units, as well as the installation of insulated Isoboard ceilings and distribution of Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) to 700 low-income households in Cosmo City. The project was funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) under the auspices of the embassy as part of a R15-million climate change mini-programme for Joburg. The main objective of the project is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and greening in low-income houses and contribute towards building a liveable human settlement that promotes energy conservation, alleviates energy poverty and demonstrates the performance and efficiency of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This project in an extension following on from the first phase of installation of 170 Solar Water Heaters (SWH) in 2007 and contributing to the Department of Energy’s target of one million solar water heating units within five years.

CO2 reduction

The installation of the Solar Water Heaters, CFLs and insulated ceilings will result in an estimated saving of 58,641 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Next steps

As part of this project, a baseline and monitoring of Energy and Water Usage is being conducted to measure energy and water consumption in low-income households at Cosmo City prior and post implementation of the energy and water efficiency interventions. These measurements will be used to determine the effects of the renewable energy, insulation and energy efficiency interventions on energy and water consumption and indoor temperatures in the low-income houses. The data will also be used in calculations of carbon savings arising from the project, in order to raise carbon finance in the carbon market and fund further energy efficiency and other development measures at Cosmo City.


Sustainability in housing is a key driver in the Department of Human Settlements. By limiting carbon emissions through passive design elements and the addition of energy saving devices and harnessing solar energy, there is potential funding to be realized from the sale of ‘carbon credits’ and a range of incentives and subsidies available within the South African system to pay for the additions. This would ensure a higher quality of life for the homeowners and the achievement of policy goals in limiting carbon emissions at no additional cost to the homeowner, the housing system or the municipality, as well as contributing to reducing peak electricity demand.

The City of Johannesburg’s ‘Climate Proofing of Urban Communities’ Programme in Cosmo City as an example of how a Programme of Activities could be applied in the low cost housing sector in South Africa. SouthSouthNorth Africa (SSNA) has proposed to assist the City of Johannesburg in registering the ‘Cosmo City Climate Proofing of Urban Communities’ Programme as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project activity (CPA) in the process of registering the Programme of Activities (PoA).The rationale for using the Cosmo City Programme is that it is a project that contains all the elements of the type of projects that will be encompassed in the PoA for low cost housing in South Africa.

Formal Launch

The Cosmo City Climate Proofing Project was officially launched on 9 June 2010 by the City of Johannesburg’s Environmental Management Department in partnership with Johannesburg City Parks. The project launch was attended by hundreds of member of the community and prominent delegates from local government which included councillor Maureen Schneeman, Ward 100 councillor, MMC for Environment and Corporate Services, councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe and councillor Roslynn Greef, MMC of Development and Urban Management. Carsten H Laugesen, Development Counsellor at the Embassy of Denmark represented the Danish Embassy. In her address to delegates and the community, councillor Mfikoe said the project forms an integral part of the City’s efforts to fight climate change and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. However, she said, not only does the project positively impact the environment but also offers cost-saving and job creation benefits.

As part of the project requirements, all contractors have to employ members from the local community and capacitate them. Furthermore, all the renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies are manufactured by local companies; therefore, benefiting South Africa’s growing Green Economy.

Other highlights included:

  • A performance on safety and the environment by Emergency Management Services;
  • A performance on community engagement and subsequent Q&A session by Cosmo City Community-based Educators.

The proceedings ended with an official unveiling by councillor Mfikoe of a house that is already fitted with a Solar Water Heater, isoboard ceilings and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). A tree was also planted to symbolise the greening of the 700 houses which form part of the Cosmo City Climate Proofing Project.

Download PDF