Exponential growth in local green buildings sector 

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in this case, the picture reflects the 1 000th green building certification for the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). This milestone was recently signed off and awarded to the Department of Visual Arts Building at Stellenbosch University, and speaks to a growing appetite for sustainable and resilient green buildings in the South African built environment sector.  

 16 years in the making 

The first step to 1 000 certifications started in 2009, explains the GBCSA’s chief executive officer, Lisa Reynolds, emphasising that there is still more work needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

“When the GBCSA started, it was primarily focussed on the office environment, and we were doing 20 to 30 certifications per year,” says Georgina Smit, the GBCSA’s technical head. “We have evolved to processing approximately 100 certifications per year and engaging with industry leaders who want to demonstrate their green commitment in the residential, industrial and tertiary spaces.” In 2022 alone, the organisation certified 165 buildings. 

Green savings 

The annual savings resulting from the 1 000 GBCSA certifications, when compared to “business as usual” buildings, equates to 1 320 000MWh of energy, 1 590 million kilograms of CO emissions and 1 220 million litres of water. With savings like these, the benefits of green building become substantial. They also contribute to financial sustainability. 

Looking ahead 

It’s all systems go at the GBCSA to increase its capacity to certify a higher number of green buildings per year. This includes identifying ways to streamline the certification process, without compromising standards and robustness. An exciting next step for the sector will be the launch of the pilot phase of the GBCSA’s New Build Version 2 Green Star rating tool in 2024. 

Ultimately green buildings are here to stay. While there is still much work to be done, each small step contributes to a larger journey to a future where people and the planet can thrive. 

“We have made good progress, but there is also a call to action. The next 1 000 certifications await, and with them, a more sustainable future for South Africa’s built environment sector,” says Reynolds. 

 With 1 000 green building certifications awarded in South Africa, the substantial savings achieved show that sustainability has both economic and environmental benefits. 

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to…

https://gbcsa.org.za/ for the information in this editorial. 

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