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Look at zero carbon home

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Team Mahali designed a full-size model of a net zero carbon home. PHOTO: supplied
Team Mahali designed a full-size model of a net zero carbon home. PHOTO: supplied

Have you ever wondered what a net zero carbon home would look like?

Thanks to a group of recent graduates and young professionals from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, Capetonians have a chance to view a full-size model of a net zero carbon home at Green Point Urban Park.

A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient, and fully powered from on or off-site renewable energy sources.

The graduates, called Team Mahali, designed the sustainable home as part of the City’s Cape Town Future Energy Festival.

The festival is a virtual community festival showcasing innovative and cost-effective household solutions for energy use and sustainable living.

Their design was awarded first prize in the ultimate ‘clean green home’ design competition, which was hosted by the City in partnership with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The brief for the competition was to design a net zero carbon and self-powering home with integrated water, waste and food systems for display and exhibition purposes.

On Monday 1 March, the City in partnership with the GBCSA launched the My Clean Green +Home pop-up exhibit to showcase the winning design.

Mayor Dan Plato congratulated the team on their achievement and says carbon neutrality is important for the City. “To see the innovation, a shipping container that could become a new housing type. There are massive loads of shipping containers standing around; here is a opportunity to use them.”

Shawn AliMohammadi from Team Mahali says the idea for their design was to make use of recycled material that would be easily accessible. “We made use of about 85 shipping pallets and two shipping containers with a lifespan of about 30 years. Before the containers were just sitting in container yards, now it can be a home for families to live in and have a safe space. The overarching structure is made out of pallets that surrounds the perimeter and that surrounds the ceiling and what this does is just like a tree it provides shade for the two sub-structures, which means that it is cooler in summer – so you don’t need air-conditioning.”

He adds: “Another factor that we got inspired from the tree was the solar panels: just as trees produce their own energy, our solar panels produce energy for the house. So, every appliance in the house is powered by our solar panels and we’re not connected to the grid.”

He says the tree-like structure captures all rainwater that hits the roof and stores it in a rain water catchment tank, which is a water bladder on top of the one container. He explains that this also provides additional insulation.

AliMohammadi says: “The modified shipping containers have been made into a kitchen which is half outside and half inside, which allows for an nice multi-functional space, for people to gather and share stories. A very central thing about this design is the social aspect and our drive is to get people to connect and share ideas.”

He says they are trying to advance sustainable housing and sustainable community houses that are not just homes for humans but are also homes for animals, plants and birds.

According to AliMohammadi compared to a standard building of the same size, the Mahali hub has a carbon footprint that’s approximately 80 times lighter and it’s got a water consumption that’s about 80 times less, “meaning that you’ll save money on water and electricity”.

Mary Haw, spokesperson for the City’s sustainable energy markets department, says the exhibit is an opportunity to bring Capetonians into a net zero carbon home to make them see, feel and experience what that might be like . “This model home is the epitome of the City’s vision for all new buildings to be net zero carbon by 2030 and to be a carbon neutral city by 2050. It has been built to operate at net zero carbon emissions incorporating solar power generation, passive cooling, rainwater harvesting and an edible food garden. A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient, and fully powered from on or off-site renewable energy sources.”

The Mahali hub is open to the public and will be on display until Sunday 14 March.

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