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Four SA cities aim for zero carbon building to be standard

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The C40 Cities South Africa Buildings Programme, which aims to make zero-carbon buildings the standard practice across the country's cities.

Residents and businesses moving into new buildings in Cape Town, Joburg, Durban and Tshwane will soon enjoy lower energy bills and will generate less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing their impact on climate change.

High-efficiency energy performance requirements are being developed for all new buildings in these cities, thanks to their collaboration in the C40 Cities South Africa Buildings Programme, which aims to make zero-carbon buildings the standard practice across the country’s cities.

The energy used to power, heat and operate buildings accounts for more than 25% of GHG emissions produced by South African cities, so action to make buildings more energy efficient has huge potential to reduce emissions.

In addition, more than 70% of South Africans are expected to be living in cities by 2030. With growing urban populations comes increased demand for housing, commercial buildings, office space, schools, hospitals and other buildings. Ensuring these new buildings meet high-efficiency energy performance requirements will be crucial if cities and South Africa as a whole is to deliver on its commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Representatives from 10 cities across C40’s global network gathered in Tshwane this week to exchange best practice on building energy efficiency. The cities outside South Africa include Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.

“South African cities are already seeing the effects of climate change, from the drought in Cape Town to the threat of rising seas and flooding in Durban,” said C40 executive director Mark Watts.

“Fortunately, mayors of these cities are taking ambitious action today. Given the urgency of the climate threat, it is critical all new buildings are constructed to the highest levels of energy performance. The bold leadership of these four mayors is setting the standard from which the entire world can learn.”

The City of Cape Town is one of the leading cities globally in actively addressing climate change. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said it recently adopted a Transit-Orientated Development Strategic Framework to address the apartheid legacy of spatial inequality, high urbanisation rates and to improve the cost effectiveness of public transport.

“Our participation in the C40 South Africa Building Programme is a significant opportunity to support lower carbon in infrastructure provision, energy efficient building design, clean energy supply and significantly reduced transport demand. Through the programme, we aim to develop and begin implementing more ambitious new building energy performance requirements that will build the path to a resource efficient, carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2050.”

Since 2007, more than 230 buildings have been certified to the Green Star South Africa sustainable building rating system, developed and managed by the Green Building Council South Africa.

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