This panel discussion held on 03 March 2021 was structured around the question of how the concept of Net Zero Carbon (NZC) could be incorporated in our local infrastructure projects.
Mary Haw, from the Sustainable Energy Markets team at the City of Cape Town presented on the exciting programs underway at the City to improve the energy efficiency of buildings while also decreasing the City’s reliance on renewable energy. The City has made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality for new buildings by 2030 and for the City to be carbon neutral by 2050. She surprised us with the announcement of a demonstration Carbon Neutral house which is on display at the Green Point Common.

Prof Vanderschuren, from the Centre for Transport Studies at UCT provided an overview of the trends towards more energy efficient transport systems both globally and locally noting the many challenges and opportunities in the south African sector. In particular she noted the impact of urban planning on carbon emissions, and that electric vehicles are not necessarily the silver bullet people seem to think they are.
Tessa Brunette, an architect from ARUP who specializes in multidisciplinary design co-ordination provided three simple pointers for practitioners to follow to help enable NZC principles to be put in practice, namely 1) Define Net Zero, 2) Incentivise Net Zero and 3) Taking a whole carbon lifecycle approach. She also provided some inspiring anecdotes of how NZC principles are already being implemented on projects.

There was much robust discussion afterwards and it was acknowledged that NZC is one of a number of challenges infrastructure practitioners need to understand, and cannot be viewed in isolation from other issues such as climate change, pollution and resource depletion, however it was agreed that it is poorly understood and thus this discussion was valuable