COP21 Paris: GBCSA commits to introduce net-zero certifications for buildings

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of Green Building Council South Africa.

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has made an ambitious commitment to introduce a net zero/positive building certification scheme by 2020, and six more meaningful goals, at COP21 in Paris today.

A total of 25 Green Building Councils from around the world unveiled national commitments to transform the sustainability of their buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that the building and construction industry plays its part in limiting global warming to 2 degrees.

Buildings currently account for around one third of global emissions. But green building is one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change, which generates significant environmental, economic and societal benefits.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of Green Building Council South Africa, explains its commitment to introduce a Net Zero/Positive building certification will cover energy and carbon emissions, and possibly also cover water and waste. It will leverage and be built upon the GBCSA’s current Green Star SA and Energy Water Performance certification schemes that already can assess whether a building is water or energy neutral or positive. However, it will also allow for specific recognition and acknowledgment of this net zero/positive aspect only, so as to elevate its importance.

GBCSA also committed to six further significant goals by 2020. They are:

1. To secure statements of commitment in respect of the green building principles and practices for 60% of 50 of
the leading and largest property owners in the country.

2. To target 2,500 commercial green building certifications, representing around 10 million square metres of gross
building area.

3. A target of 10,000 residential green building certified homes.

4. A target of 12,000 professionals to be trained in green building principles and practices.

5. 10% of local government staff to be trained in green building principles and practices.

6. Inspiring and assisting fellow African national to establish and capacitate GBCs in their countries by providing
support with rating tools, training, and so forth, with a target of five more established African GBCs.

The commitments were made at Buildings Day – the official COP21 meeting led by Ségolène Royal, the French Minister of Ecology and former presidential candidate.

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “The Green Building Council South Africa is demonstrating real leadership on green buildings by launching its ambitious commitments at these critical climate change negotiations in Paris”.

“We know how to build bigger and bigger. The challenge is to build bigger and better. And it is commitments like these that will help to transform the global buildings industry so that not only is a 2 degree world possible tomorrow, but we can realise the benefits from this new way of building – today.”

The GBCSA has an extensive member base of over 1,300 member organisations each represented by thousands of individuals who have become activators and implementers of green building, in both the private and public sector. The GBCSA exists to transform the way the built environment is designed, constructed and operated, to be environmentally sustainable. This includes a critical focus on radically reducing harmful emissions resulting from building practices.