Amidst all the air-conditioned PVC tents and rivers of aircon condensate water spilling all over the exhibition site (at what was unquestionably the most vital and high-profile sustainability conference on earth) only one single exhibit really stood proud and true; that of ‘Climate Smart Cape Town’ at the COP17 exhibition in Durban this week.

A simple-looking yet sensational sustainable design by Andre Rademeyer at ST&AR Architects and Stephen Lamb at Touching the Earth Lightly the design included the use of 1,884 recyclable plastic milk crates (filled with over 22,000 plastic milk bottles) to create the external structure of the exhibit.

The ground-breaking pavilion was completely ‘off-the-grid’ using its own renewable energy in the form of a wind turbine and solar photovoltaic panels on the roof to provide energy to charge the storage batteries during the day. At night the exhibit is illuminated internally with low-energy light bulbs, the flooring is made from recycled alien timber, and the internal space is naturally ventilated using traditional sub-tropical architectural design principals. The exhibition stand is surrounded by crates of organic vegetables watered with recycled rainwater drained off the roof and into the two large 5,000lt JoJo tanks.

It’s a bit embarrassing and annoying, I have to say, that it’s always the City of Cape Town who shine above all others and repeatedly seem to come up to my hometown to show the eThekwini Durban municipality up and demonstrate just how things should be done. This year they were once again judged ‘best in show’, but don’t just take my word for it this time, this year they won two official awards for ‘best external exhibit’ and ‘best overall exhibit’.

Well done the City of Cape Town; you guys really are quite incredible and once again you deservedly stole the show!