Resource conservation targeted
of any proportion all citizens can make a contribution to lessen the effects of climate change.
In addition to the City’s Energy and Climate Action Plan, comprising 50 programme areas and 120 projects for a low carbon city, this campaign is highlighting the triple challenge it is facing as well as a set of six basic guidelines with information on how to become more climate smart.
Most importantly is the realisation that sustainable living starts at home, and should reflect in thoughtful architecture, responsible building, eco-friendly landscaping, indigenous and water-wise gardening, decorating with sustainable materials and daily living in an environmentally sustainable space.
The three priorities identified are the city’s high carbon footprint, its poor energy security, and its vulnerability through urban sprawl that will have an impact on climate change. The six guidelines relate to electricity, water, nature conservation, cleaner air, recycling and smart travel choices. All of these communicate crucial facts about global warming, including the city’s electricity consumption accounting for 66% of the city’s CO2 emissions.
The city’s average “domestic” water consumption in winter is around 360Ml a day, increasing during summer by about a third, to around 458Ml, mostly as a result of irrigating gardens. The city introduced a stepped water tariff with the first 6Kl free of charge some years ago to encourage residents to use water frugally.
To conserve urban spaces, greenhouse gases can be removed from the atmosphere by retaining our natural vegetation areas. By planting water-wise non-invasive shrubs and trees in built-up areas, the city will benefit from a reduction in noise pollution, greater cooling and shading and screening of seasonal wind.
Greater use of bicycles is encouraged, with a reminder that it is permitted on Myciti bus routes at no extra cost, while future plans for more dedicated cycling lanes in the city are under way. By making smarter travel choices like sharing lifts and using public transport, not only will it reduce the overall Co2emissions of the city, but it will save on travel costs, reduce congestion, increase productivity, and reduce pollution.
The recycling of waste material, already at high levels in the Western Cape, is aimed at zero waste to landfills. Illustrating successful action is the first High Temperature Conversion of Waste plant in the southern hemisphere that will be located near Riversdale on the Garden Route that will result in the permanent closure of two landfills next year.
Yet the one vital factor not emphasised in the city’s six guidelines for the reduction of carbon emissions is green building: that includes both the retrofitting of existing buildings and creating new structures to represent a sustainable lifestyle in the long term.
Illustrating the broad range of possibilities of how to achieve this was Cape Town architect Matthew Beatty of Beatty Vermeiren who discussed a number of his green building projects at the recent Green Building Council SA Conference in Cape Town.
Beatty, who specialises in contemporary, sustainable architectural design, highlighted the environmentally sustainable lifestyles of those choosing to live “off the grid” in the Cape countryside such as Barrydale and the Klein Karoo. Beatty illustrated how the value of green design can translate into beating harsh weather patterns in these regions.
Conditions in semi-arid areas include hot days and cold nights with winter rainfall that requires cool indoor living and shading during summer, as well as insulation against cold temperatures and rain during winter, while making allowances for maximum daylight.
One of his many practical introductions amid the absence of mechanisation and power tools is the use of straw bails for extra insulation, and how the sourcing of local materials and craftsmanship can reduce the carbon footprint of each building project.
‘Fynbos House’ in Bettys Bay, designed by Cape Town architectural firm Beatty Vermeiren.