The GBCSA has committed to employing a net zero/positive building certification scheme by 2020, together with six other ambitious goals to help curb climate change.

By 2020, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) is planning to introduce a net zero/positive building certification scheme. This aspiring commitment was made at COP21 in Paris at the end of last year, as part of the World Green Building Council’s Better Build Green Campaign.

The chief executive officer or the GBCSA, Brian Wilkinson, explains that the certification will cover energy and carbon emissions, and possibly also water and waste. It will leverage and be built upon the GBCSA’s current Green Star SA and Energy Water Performance certification schemes, which already can assess whether a building is water or energy neutral or positive. However, it will also allow for specific recognition and acknowledgement of this net zero/positive aspect only, in order to elevate its importance.

The GBCSA also committed to six further goals by 2020:
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.    A total of 2 500 commercial green building certifications, representing about ten million square metres of gross building area.
3.    A total of 10 000 residential green building certified homes.
4.    A total of 12 000 professionals to be trained in green building principles and practices.
5.    A total of 10% of local government staff to be trained in green building principles and practices.
6.    To assist with the establishment of five more African Green Building Councils by providing support with rating tools, training and more.

Global collaboration
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°C.

These Green Building Councils committed to register, renovate or certify over 1,25 billion square metres of green building space and train over 127 000 qualified green building professionals by 2020, while three Green Building Councils, those of Canada, Australia and South Africa, committed to introduce net zero certification for buildings.

“We know how to build bigger and bigger. The challenge is to build bigger and better,” states Terri Wills, chief executive officer of the World Green Building Council. “And it is commitments like these that will help to transform the global building industry so that not only is a two degree world possible tomorrow, but we can realise the benefits from this new way of building – today.”  

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State of play:
•    Buildings currently account for one third of global emissions.
•    Green building is one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change.
•    To play its part in limiting global warming to 2°C, the building sector must reduce emissions by 84 gigatons by 2050 – the equivalent of not building 22 000 coal-powered plants.
•    By 2018, green building in the United States (US) will account for over 3,3 million jobs, more than one third of the entire US construction sector.
•    Green building can improve people’s health, wellbeing and productivity – for example, improved indoor air quality can lead to productivity improvements of up to 11%.