Re­source con­ser­va­tion tar­geted

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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.

Pic­ture: ELSA YOUNG

‘Fyn­bos House’ in Bet­tys Bay, de­signed by Cape Town ar­chi­tec­tural firm Beatty Ver­meiren.

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