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Socio-economic factors tested as criteria for green building ratings

by Darren
Socio economic factors

The new pilot socio-economic category for Green Star SA rating tools is currently being tested.

 

Moving beyond the traditional green assessment criteria for buildings, the Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) has introduced a new pilot socio-economic category (SEC) for Green Star SA rating tools.

Registered green buildings will, upon invitation, be testing it in a pilot phase until December this year, after which it will be updated and launched as a Version 1 Category.

In a press statement, the GBCSA expressed its view that the inclusion of social and economic factors is important to address broader sustainability issues, which are particularly relevant for South Africa and other developing countries.

The GBCSA believes that societal challenges such as poverty, unemployment, a lack of education and skills, and poor health can all be addressed, to some degree, through the process of designing and constructing green buildings.

“In the same way that Green Star SA tools have inspired transformation towards greener practices in the property industry, we hope this socio-economic category will encourage a mind-set change around the socio-economic upliftment potential of building projects,” says the GBCSA’s chief executive officer, Brian Wilkinson.

Projects that achieve a rating for the SEC Pilot will get additional recognition for this, alongside their Green Star SA rating.

In total, South Africa’s SEC will have seven possible credits under Green Star SA. These credits focus on employment creation, economic opportunity, skills development and training, community benefit, empowerment, safety and health, and mixed income housing.

“These credits address some of the burning issues facing developing countries worldwide. They have typically not been dealt with by existing rating tools, but are an important part of the broader concept of sustainability. Much interest has been expressed and we’re hoping that the market will respond favourably,” says Bruce Kerswill, the GBCSA’s non-executive chair and initiator of this project.

The new socio-economic category is sponsored by Old Mutual Property. “As an organisation committed to responsible business practice, we are proud to be associated with the launch of this venture and believe social imperatives in property development and management are extremely important, as are the environmental issues,” says Old Mutual Property’s chief executive officer, Peter Levett.

“This aligns with Old Mutual’s dedication to being leaders in environmental, social and governance matters in all its investment activities.”

During the development process, a diverse technical working group of 18 people spanning public and private sectors worked alongside the appointed consultants, Aurecon, to help create benchmark metrics and assessment measures for the new socio-economic credits. A peer review committee consisting of ten people also contributed their expert views.

The need to introduce socio-economic factors into green building rating systems has been recognised globally, and therefore the development of this category has taken place in an international context.

On behalf of the World Green Building Council, the GBCSA has led the creation of an international framework, which can be adapted for local use in other developing countries. This resource document was informed by a 15-strong, multi-country advisory panel, including views from the international green building community, and was also funded by Old Mutual Property.

According to the World Green Building Council, the pilot international framework ought to serve as a starting point for Green Building Councils around the world to integrate socio-economic impacts into their own rating tools.

It is also a vital step in growing the global green building movement and emphasising the role of the building industry in supporting countries’ national priorities.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the Green Building Council of South Africa for the information given to write this article.

The seven credits of the SEC:
• Employment creation.
• Economic opportunity.
• Skills development and training.
• Community benefit.
• Empowerment, safety and health.
• Mixed income housing.

Green Building Council of South Africa
Tel: 0861 042 272
Website: www.gbcsa.org.za

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