The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is a ‘movement’ not an organisation, says Dorah Modise, former GBCSA CEO, reflecting on its milestone 15th anniversary earlier this year. This is the first part of a two-part article.
GBCSA has achieved a meaningful impact, driving measurable results in terms of certifications as well as training, accreditation, job creation and climate change mitigation.
It is one of 70 members of the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and collaborates with Green Building Councils across the globe, enabling access to a community of experts and creating a platform for advocacy, training and certification, also catalysing a number of regulatory changes. GBCSA’s Annual Green Building Convention has become the property industry’s premier gathering of experts and leaders in the field of sustainable building.
By means of developing a host of certification tools, as well as training and accrediting professionals in the field of green building, the adoption of environmentally responsible practice in the property sector has become mainstream. At the same time, the vision of being a driving force in the mitigation of climate change has become a reality. To date, 2 265 professionals have been accredited through GBCSA’s training and accreditation programmes with 325 students going through the candidate programme.
Current CEO of GBCSA, Lisa Reynolds, says that in this time the organisation has reached 905 certifications in Africa, across the Green Star, Net Zero, EWP and EDGE certifications. The impact of the 905 certifications can be illustrated through the energy and water savings and carbon reductions achieved as a result of the measures required to achieve the certification. Approximately 91 500 households’ worth of annual energy (1 320 million kWh/annum), and 1 220 million litres of potable drinking water will be saved annually, which equates to 1 672 800 people’s daily drinking water needs every year. The 1 590 million kgCO2/annum that will be saved equates to 395 400 cars off the roads every year in terms of kgCO2 equivalent.
“In the last year alone 165 buildings were certified which reflects the exponential growth in the adoption of more sustainable building practices – the first 50 certifications took over five years, but as the environmental and financial benefits of green building became more apparent, we saw a greater buy-in across the board and the industry as a whole has shifted. Our role in education and training is an important part of achieving this shift and supports a just transition to low-carbon green building, ensuring the future and livelihoods of workers by creating new jobs within a green economy.”
In 2007, Bruce Kerswill, who is currently the managing director of Spire Property Group, saw the need for a body to facilitate the growth and adoption of green principles in the property sector in South Africa, where at the time, green building was the exception rather than the rule. He says, “We received much valuable support from the Australian Green Building Council and assistance with the development of South Africa’s own Green Star tool. Neil Gopal from SAPOA (South African Property Owners Association) was instrumental in our initial efforts, and Nicola Douglas as our CEO was a driving force in getting the organisation off the ground.
Supplied by PR and edited by Eamonn Ryan.