Totally ‘off-grid’ house from Rhino Plastics


PHOTO: The house at Crossways Farm Village near Jeffrey’s Bay includes 1) photo-voltaic (PV) system; 2) invertor/MPPT/Battery for PV system; 3) solar geyser; 4) flat plate solar panel for hot water; 5) heat pump for geyser hot water; 6) heat pump for under floor; 7) heat pump for under floor cooling and swimming pool heating; 8) heat storage tank for under floor heating and cooling; 9) indirect S-solar panels for under floor heating and cooling; 10) bio-gas digester; 11) bio-rock effluent treatment plant; 12) sump; 13) tank and ozone treatment; 14) rain tank with ozone treatment; 15) under floor heating and cooling; 16) methane gas to stove and fire place;) 17) water & energy/saving showerheads; 18) LED lights; 19) double-glazed doors & windows; 20) polycarb roofing; 21) polycarb skylights; 22) roof garden; 23) chimney for passive cooling; 24) irrigation system; 25) aqua garden system; 26) dampseal plastic water proofing membrane; 27) enviro-Tuff roofing insulation; 28) bulk ceiling insulation; 29) invertor DC pool pump; 30) ozone pool sterilization

WHAT started as a venture making refuse bags from recycled material in Dimbaza in the 1980s and gradually evolved into the production of sophisticated agricultural films finally flowered for Rhino Plastics recently when it put it all together in the development of a fully sustainable, off-grid house concept.

‘House Rhino’ at the Crossways Farm Village near Port Elizabeth is testament to Rhino Plastics MD Brian van Niekerk’s ceaseless search for sustainable and environmentally-friendly construction solutions.

The pioneering ‘green’ house is not just off-grid from an electrical perspective: it is self-sufficient in terms of its water and effluent requirements too, using the latest technologies, materials and capabilities. The latter is the really the key aspect in the project: Van Niekerk has applied his mind to every aspect of the development.

Main features include:

  • roof-mounted solar photo-voltaic with a bank of zero-maintenance batteries charged by two inverters, giving the house autonomy;
  • water sustainability achieved through rainwater harvesting (with 30,000 litres of storage tanks);
  • construction with Aruba bricks, which offer better insulation; and
  • the use of numerous recycled materials, such as WPC decking.

Rhino Plastics itself provided most of the plastic pipe and film (some of it produced from recycled material) while its subsidiaries Rhino Energy Solutions provided the PV panels and infrastructure; Rhino Water provided the water harvesting system (including the sourcing of the roto moulded tanks); Rhino Greenbuilding coordinated the architectural design; Rhino Lighting supplied the LED solutions; Rhino AgriVantage provided the biological nutrients; and Ecola Plastics produced several of the recycled materials used.