South Africa’s green building movement has gained significant momentum with the achievement of 50 Green Star SA certifications in only six years. The milestone was marked at an event held in Johannesburg on April 10 by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), which was established in 2007 to lead the transformation of the property sector by ensuring that all buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally responsible way.
The event was attended by Green Star SA project owners, accredited green building professionals, sponsors of rating tools used to develop and assess buildings, and representatives of property industry groups.
Developers of the 50 certified projects expect their buildings will result in significant annual savings of 76 million kilowatt hours (the amount of electricity needed by 5 300 households for a year), 115 million kilograms of carbon emissions (equivalent to taking 28 000 cars off the road), and 124 million litres of water (sufficient for 34 000 households for a year).
“Reaching 50 certifications illustrates the commitment the South African commercial property sector has shown towards resource efficiency and climate change abatement, while creating healthier and more productive environments for us to work and live in,” says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA.
Globally, the built environment is responsible for one third of all carbon emissions and with global warming a very real concern that affects us all, a shift in focus to green building is something that should be foremost in everyone’s minds – from government, to developers to the average man in the street.
According to McGraw and Hills’ World Green Building Trend survey (2013), 51% of South Africa firms expect to be building green by 2015 – most notably in the commercial markets. This suggests that outside investors, developers and owners will have an ongoing, important role to play in the ongoing green building groundswell.
Going green is not just about the environment, the bottom-line benefits of building and operating green buildings are particularly important considering South Africa’s rising energy costs and water scarcity – coupled with lower risks, improvements to employee productivity and ultimately, better investment returns and higher property valuations.