The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has appointed long-time champion of sustainable, green building practice, Lisa Reynolds, as its chief executive officer (CEO) on 1 June. The GBCSA rating tools have been fundamental in measuring and reducing the environmental impact of buildings. Reynolds will be responsible for continuing this trend, while positioning the GBCSA for a sustainable future in uncertain times.
Marlene van Rooyen, MD and Editor in Chief of Media in Africa interviewed Lisa and discussed her recent appointment and the vision she has for her term.
“The current crisis compels humanity to reconsider how we connect, how we interact with one another and the planet, and our impact on our surroundings must be considered more than ever. We are in a phase of recovery – whether we are recovering the economy, ourselves from lockdown or from COVID-19. Since we must recover, why not make it sustainable and develop green solutions, making it a green recovery,” says Reynolds.
A CEO backed by exceptional experience
Reynolds has a proven track record with the GBCSA, which includes serving on the first technical working group for the first Green Star SA rating tool and on the board of directors at the organisation. She has been one of the drivers in getting energy-efficiency regulations in place for the built environment, including SANS 204 in 2008 and SANS 10400-XA in 2011. She has also been involved in drafting many other energy-efficiency and energy management standards.
Reynolds holds a BSc Chemistry, CEM, an MBA; and was the co-founder of the Green Building Design Group, a Sustainability Development Executive at Saint-Gobain. She served as chairperson of the SANS Energy-Efficiency Standards in Buildings initiative, and of the Energy Management Standards. She was also the President of the Southern African Energy-Efficiency Confederation, which has assisted in her aim to increase her direct contribution to the growth of the green economy.
Council aims to lead Africa in green building
“In terms of ranking South Africa’s performance with green buildings globally, South Africans can be proud as we are performing at the same standard as the rest of the world. The adoption of GBCSA standards may not be as high in South Africa as it is in other parts of the world, such as Europe, Britain and Australia, but we are much further along than when we started in 2007,” says Reynolds.
According to Reynolds, there is a great deal of potential for transforming more buildings throughout Africa to green buildings and the GBCSA wants to lead the way in this throughout Africa. She says the slow adoption of green buildings into South Africa regulatory space may be because of the perception that there is a high cost to make buildings green.
Green buildings save with running costs
“However, people need to understand that green buildings make financial sense because they are resource efficient, are healthier for occupants and have lower running costs. There always seems to be a debate regarding the outlay of capital for a building upfront, but individuals don’t seem to always recognise both the tangible and intangible savings they will have from the lower running cost of the building,” says Reynolds.
GBCSA Convention Goes VIRTUAL
GBCSA’s flagship annual Green Building Convention will be held online for the first time from 28 – 30 October 2020. The Convention will be held in an immersive and engaging virtual environment. Participants are able to create an avatar and navigate around a virtual campus with an auditorium, exhibition village, breakaway rooms, offices, an art gallery, and a variety of networking areas. The Convention theme – Near Possible: Mapping a Path to a Sustainable Future – is particularly relevant now as the coronavirus crisis highlights the need for us to “Build it Back Better” and drive the transition to healthier, safer and sustainable spaces. The world is primed for a green recovery that will not only accelerate climate action but drive a superior economic recovery.
“As we emerge from lockdown, we know we are in for a tough time for a while, but it is also an ideal time to think innovatively and drive a Green Recovery where we also deal with the persistent threat of climate change. I encourage everyone to embrace a Green Recovery – creating healthier, resource-efficient and meaningful spaces in the built environment that respond to climate-related challenges.”
The virtual Convention video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXjdLJmLZvg&t=2s