Advice and Opinion

Businesses can build a better bottom line

“Sustainability does not need to come at the sacrifice of economic prosperity.” This is the view of Jochen Zeitz, a keynote speaker at this year’s Green Building Convention to be held in Cape Town from 2 to 6 November

Zeitz is a global advocate of green leadership who is applauded for developing the Environmental Profit and Loss Account, a model for addressing sustainability goals as part of the corporate bottom line. He is a director of French luxury goods holding company Kering, which owns top brands such as Puma, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen. 

Revealing how business leaders can build a better bottom line, Zeitz will share his journey as Chairman of the Kering Board’s Sustainable Development Committee. His experience highlights that we all depend on this planet and at the same time, in one way or another, we are all part of a global economy. 

Leading the movement for a greener built environment in Africa, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) hosts the annual Green Building Convention. The event, sponsored by Property Finance at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB), is set to deliver a thought provoking programme designed to inspire better, greener urban environments. 

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, says the council is thrilled to have Zeitz headline the Green Building Convention’s exciting speaker line-up. “Zeitz’s green leadership, business philosophy and attitude towards sustainable development is an inspiration. His excellent example shows that doing good for our environment and our society can also be good for business.” 

Zeitz, together with Sir Richard Branson, launched The B Team, a group of business leaders including Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post Media Group and Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, who believe there is more to corporate life than the relentless pursuit of profit. 

He also founded the Zeitz Foundation for Intercultural Ecosphere Safety, in 2008. This organisation is inspired by the efforts of conservationists, scientists and artists, and recognises the need for furthering collaboration and alliances around the world. Its purpose is to achieve the highest standards in sustainability through the balance of conservation, community, culture and commerce in privately managed areas. 

Through projects that balance sustainability and prosperity, Zeitz hopes to encourage a new model for sustainable development – one that shows how working towards ecosphere safety can be commercially viable. 

“I am convinced that if revenues generated by the success of these inclusive, holistic approaches are poured back into the system, they can help to safeguard natural resources, enhance the livelihoods of communities, and promote sustainable economic development,” says Zeitz. 

Supportive of his unique experience at the point where sustainability and business leadership meet, Property Finance at NCIB and Growthpoint Properties are the sponsors of Zeitz’s keynote presentation at the convention. 

“Sustainability is at the core of our business imperatives at Nedbank, where we follow an integrated approach that includes social, environmental, cultural and economic sustainability,” says Robin Lockhart-Ross, Managing Executive: Property Finance at NCIB. “This is demonstrated by our Fair Share 2030 programme which speaks to our commitment to future proof our industry with the financing of green buildings a major part of the bank’s strategy. We are pleased to have the calibre of speakers such as Jochen Zeitz at the Green Building Convention 2015 to share his journey of sustainability and how it links to the bottom line.” 

Growthpoint, South Africa’s largest JSE-listed REIT, has a standing relationship with Zeitz through its 50% interest in the properties at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. 

Zeitz has partnered with the V&A Waterfront in its redevelopment of the historic Grain Silo into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The museum’s namesake, Zeitz, will have his own collection of contemporary African artworks donated to form the museum’s founding collection. He has also committed to underwrite the running costs of the museum as well as provide a substantial acquisition budget to allow the museum to acquire new works and collections. 

Norbert Sasse, CEO of Growthpoint Properties, comments: “As a business that differentiates ourselves through our commitment to sustainability, Growthpoint is thrilled to play a part in sharing this global example of eco-leadership with delegates of the Green Building Convention. By working together, with everyone doing their share, we can all contribute to positive change and create places where businesses, communities and our world can thrive.” 

In addition to inspiring delegates on the broader subject of sustainability, the convention also aims to provide a forum in the South African property sector to discuss current trends, share knowledge and engage in debate to make a difference to the way business is done in the built environment. 

Wilkinson says: “The Green Building Convention 2015 will go beyond simply finding ways to cope with the country’s current energy crisis. We want to move South Africa towards more innovation and future-orientated thinking to inspire better buildings.” 

* For more information on the Green Building Convention 2015 or to register, go to