The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is entering its 10th year of operation on a high note with a milestone 200 buildings rated with Green Star SA certifications.
It announced this landmark achievement during World Green Building Week 2016 (#WGBW16), which is currently underway (26 September to 2 October) under the theme Change Your Perspective.
The GBCSA is joining all other green building councils across the globe, and once again driving this important global initiative locally, to shine a spotlight on building a better world. This week, it is raising awareness of how green buildings are the most effective means of achieving a range of environmental, social and economic goals.
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, comments: “Green building is part of the solution to global warming and the real hero in the fight against climate change. The increase in pace in green building in SA has been phenomenal. Support and innovation from across the industry has accelerated our green building movement and more green buildings have meaningful and significant positive impacts on our environment. We would like to congratulate SA’s property sector on this landmark achievement and encourage them to continue to create more sustainable, green buildings.”
The GBCSA is one of over 74 members worldwide of the World Green Building Council. It exists to inspire the property industry to design, build, operate and tenant better, greener buildings. It is the official certification body for Green Star SA and EDGE (residential projects) – both rigorous, standardised rating systems that rank how green projects are with tangible results to back up these claims.
GBCSA operates in the commercial, residential and public sectors, striving to preserve the planet for future generations and operating through advocacy, membership, certification and training.
As the GBCSA embarks on its 10th year of operation it continues to make huge strides in building better cities, together with its members and leaders in the South African market.
Illustrating this is the exponential growth of Green Star SA buildings in South Africa. Established in 2007, the GBCSA proudly awarded the country’s first green certification in 2009. By April 2014 this had grown to 50 Green Star SA ratings and, only a year later, it doubled. Today, a mere 18 months along, this number has doubled again, reaching the milestone total of 200.
The impact of buildings on the environment is astounding, with the built environment currently accounting for 20% of the world’s water usage and 40% of its electricity. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as the savings achieved by the country’s 200 Green Star SA certified buildings prove.
The 200 Green Star certified projects – which span 2.8 million square metres or 400 rugby fields – achieve the combined annual savings of 280 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This is the equivalent of powering 19,500 households for a year and takes massive pressure off South Africa’s strained power grid.
They also save a total of 336 million kilograms of carbon emissions per year, which equates to taking 84,000 cars off the roads.
Importantly in water-scarce South Africa, these certified green buildings save 260 million litres of drinking water annually, which equates to the water requirements of nearly 100 million people per day for one year.
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, comments: “SA’s cities are changing, we are building better. The exponential growth of Green Star SA certifications, now numbering over 200 projects, is proof of this. They underscore the tremendous sustainability leadership and commitment of our property sector.”
What’s more, the World Green Building Trends 2016: Developing Markets Accelerate Global Green Growth – SmartMarket Report’ predicts the rapid pace of green building growth in SA is set to continue, and the country could become a leader in the green building sector in the next three years.
Wilkinson attributes the growth in green building in SA to the many benefits that building green provides. Not only do green buildings save resources, they also save money and have meaningful positive impacts to the business, organisations and individuals that own and occupy green buildings.
The financial benefits of owning and operating green buildings are compelling. For instance, the recently released IPD South Africa Annual Green Property Indicator, compiled with the GBCSA and sponsored by Growthpoint Properties, shows that commercial green buildings deliver meaningfully higher returns than conventional buildings. They also consume around 35% less electricity and 42% less water per square metre of occupied space.
Wilkinson points out: “With green building, we can do well by doing good. Resource efficiency and the financial rewards notwithstanding, green building is the right thing to do.”
GBCSA’s positive impacts go beyond providing valuable tools, research and support for greening, but also leading the green building movement in South Africa and across Africa.
The GBCSA’s Green Star SA rating tools have grown from a single tool available in 2008, to a suite of 10 certifications including tools for commercial, residential and public sector buildings.
These tools were developed specifically for the SA context but are also a natural touch point for green building movements and councils in other parts of Africa. In this way, the GBCSA is clearing the path for fledgling green building industries across the different countries of this diverse continent which is bearing the brunt of the negative effects of climate change.
The GBCSA seeks to work with other green building councils in Africa and chairs the African Network of Green Building Councils. Green Star rating tools have been adapted for specific local contexts – this has been done through what the GBCSA calls a Local Context Report. So far, Local Context Reports have been developed for Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, and Uganda with the GBCSA working in collaboration with the relevant Green Building Councils to certify buildings in these countries.
Perhaps even more significant than the remarkable progress the GBCSA has already achieved so far are the ambitious goals it has set for itself and its partners in the future.
The GBCSA has pledged to introduce a net zero building certification scheme, and is targeting 2,500 commercial green building certifications – representing around 10 million square metres of gross building area – and 10,000 residential green building certified homes in South Africa by the year 2020. It made this commitment at the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December 2015.