Edited by Ntsako KhosaEdited by Ntsako Khosa

Government and various environmental organisations have taken steps for the earth to be more self-sufficient by encouraging ‘going green’.

Alice Lane in Sandton. All images by IMD

Going net zero, is another aspect or term that takes the concept a step further. Over the years we have seen local and international organisations like government, the Green Building Council of South Africa, the United Nations, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) partnering with developers, architects, engineers and academics to push the green building message forward. Through the willingness of professionals in the construction industry buildings that are being certified as meeting environmentally friendly aspects have popped up all over the country.

But what is going net zero and what is South Africa’s stand on this?

GoingNetZero00 2Exxaro HQ in Centurion.

The C40 Network

C40 is a data-driven organisation that focused on ensuring a global action on climate change. C40 cities is made up of 94 cities around the world that are taking bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing approximately, 700 million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe. Durban, Johannesburg and Tshwane are part of the C40 Cities.

Recent statistics from C40 suggest that the member cities represent emissions to the value of 2.4 gross tonnage of CO2e. Thirty-percent of all climate actions in the cities are being delivered through city-to-city collaboration with 70% of the cities reporting that they are already experiencing the effects of climate change.

According to Eloshan Naicker, consultant at IFC, the Cities have committed that all new builds are to have a Net Zero rating by 2030. “If you’re asking if the goal is ambitious, I don’t think so, because we are already seeing buildings that meet the requirements (or are working towards) of being Net Zero,” he explains. “Net Zero basically means designing something to have zero impact on the environment. That’s the overall arch understanding of Net Zero. So, it means that whatever your consumption is, it must equal the on-site or off-site production. Currently, it’s mainly energy focus. So, it’s Net Zero energy efficiency, meaning that the building will perform at a specific rate consuming a certain amount of energy and through renewables it will generate an equal or better amount of energy,” he adds.

GoingNetZero00 3Rosebank Towers.

Going Net Zero

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) believes that the targets sets to go Net Zero can be achieved through the coordinated efforts of business, government, and NGOs.

The Key principles of advancing net zero are:

  • Carbon – Carbon is the ultimate metric to track, and buildings must achieve an annual operational net zero carbon emissions balance based on metered data.
  • Energy – Prioritise energy efficiency to ensure that buildings are performing as efficiently as possible, and not wasting energy.
  • Renewables – Supply remaining demand from renewable energy sources, preferably on-site followed by off-site or from offsets.
  • Ecology – Overtime, progress to include embodied carbon and other impact areas such as zero water and zero waste.

A building can apply to be rated as net Zero through the GBCSA. This can be applied to new construction projects, fit out projects and existing buildings in operation.
Launched in 2017, the Net Zero/Net Positive Certification awards projects which go beyond the partial reductions recognised in the current GBCSA tools and have taken the initiative to reach the endpoint of completely neutralising or positively redressing their impacts.

GoingNetZero00 4Stella Place located in Sandton.

Projects are able to achieve Net Zero/Net Positive Ratings in:

  • Carbon
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Ecology

Net Zero/Net Positive is a methodology that can accelerate the GBCSA’s end goal of complete market transformation and is about inspiring the end goal now. This recognises buildings that completely neutralise or positively redress their carbon emissions, water consumption, solid waste to landfill and/or negative ecological impacts. Ten projects have achieved certification, for one or more of the issues, in a scheme that recognises the urgency of impacts beyond energy consumption in the race to zero. “The first four projects to be certified as Net Zero under the programme in South Africa are the Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, which is net zero rated in both carbon and ecology; Estuaries Plaza in Cape Town, which is net zero water; and Greenfields Industrial Park in Cape Town and Two Dam Sustainable in Montagu in the Western Cape, which are both net zero carbon,” says GBCSA CEO, Dorah Modise.

  • Hotel Verde
  • Knightsbridge
  • Multichoice City
  • Discovery Place
  • Nedbank Phase II
  • 102 Rivonia Rd
  • Standard Bank Rosebank
  • Sasol Place
  1. WorldGBC
  2. C40
  3. GBCSA