Now in its 16th year, the Green Building Convention aims to create a space for sharing innovative solutions and best practices to demonstrate the built environment as a force for change. In his closing address, André Theys, incoming chairperson of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), had some thoughts to share on the local industry. 

 Polarised world 

 Social media platforms designed to connect people have inadvertently become breeding grounds for ideological divides. Echo chambers form as algorithms direct content to reinforce pre-existing beliefs, creating a polarised landscape where other views are marginalised or dismissed. “You are either a climate denier or a climate alarmist,” said Theys. 

 Neither of which is helpful, because following the climate deniers means nothing happens and the status quo prevails. Following the climate alarmists, potentially leads to a rush to adopt climate policies that run the risk of ending up with the cure being worse than the disease. 


 “Climate change is real, is happening and cannot be switched off. Many of the changes are already baked in,” cautioned Theys. Climate scientists have had to introduce alarm to overcome the inertia, but there is a concern to not overcorrect. 

 There are numerous examples from organisations exploiting ESG to greenwash, through to organisations and governments driving accelerated decarbonisation plans and policies with little to no consideration given to the economic costs, or blindly adopting decarbonisation tools developed in other countries or markets without considering the local contexts. 

 Local context 

 The GBCSA has always carried out its mission, very much aware of its South African context, constantly adapting and customising its rating tools. 

 “We simply must educate our property sector that certification is about resource efficiency, not only about green credentials. If we can have enough of the listed and unlisted property sectors using the Existing Building Performance (EBP) and Energy Water Performance (EWP) tools, we could drop not one, but possibly two, three or four stages of loadshedding,” Theys explained. 

“The GBCSA will push ahead with updating our rating tools to ensure market alignment, so that we are able to offer the market updated tools that drive even greater resource efficiency.” – André Theys, GBCSA chairperson, at the Green Building Convention, November 2023 

 Full acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this article. 

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