South Africa – The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) joined the global community in commemorating world Earth Day on 22 April 2017.
A proud supporter of the global Earth Day movement, GBCSA has made impressive headway recruiting the local property sector – public and private, commercial and residential – to the environmental movement. As a player in the larger global network of Green Building Councils, GBCSA champions the movement to design, build and operate properties in an environmentally sustainable way in South Africa. So far, more than 240 formal green building certifications have been achieved with the GBCSA’s Green Star SA rating tool and 4,255 homes have been registered to target EDGE certification.
In a press statement released to mark Earth Day the GBCSA pointed out that green buildings are an effective way to mitigate climate change with big benefits for people, giving everyone a great reason to celebrate Earth Day on 22 April.
The Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working in nearly 195 countries with more than 1 billion people now taking part in Earth Day each year. It is the world’s largest civic observance.
In 2017, Earth Day focused on environmental and climate literacy. It aimed to help more people become fluent in the concepts of climate change and inspire action in defence of environmental protection.
Dorah Modise, CEO of GBCSA, says that buildings that mitigate climate change are no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity. And Earth Day highlights this with its ‘Green Cities need Green Buildings’ campaign.
Studies have shown that buildings are part of the environmental problem; they are responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Buildings account for 40% of end-user energy consumption, 40% of solid waste, and 12% of fresh water use worldwide,” notes Modise.
“Green buildings, on the other hand, are part of the solution. We now have the technology to improve buildings’ energy and water efficiency, reduce the waste and pollution they generate, power them on renewable energy and use sustainable building materials.
Green buildings are considered quick wins in mitigating climate change. Green building saves energy, plus it is relatively simple and inexpensive to retrofit old buildings so it can be applied to most buildings worldwide,” explains Modise.
According to the Earth Day Network, green building strategies can reduce energy consumption in buildings by 30% to 80%. But Modise points out that the positive impacts of green buildings go far beyond saving energy. They can also save money, create jobs, and secure a more sustainable future.
Earth Day’s ‘Expanding the Green Economy’ campaign promotes living in a way that sustains the planet and its people, as well as profit. For the property sector, this can provide millions of jobs as we develop and install new technologies, rebuild and retrofit buildings and devise new processes and modes of construction.
“The green economy has the potential to provide upwards of 450,000 much-needed additional jobs in South Africa alone, according to the IDC,” says Modise.
Green building is already creating new job opportunities locally in South Africa. “Right now, there aren’t enough Green Star SA and EDGE accredited professionals to manage the demand for green building in the country,” reports Modise.
The high demand for green professionals is unsurprising in light of the rapid pace with which green building is growing in South Africa.
Dodge Data & Analytics and United Technologies published World Green Building Trends last year, revealing that South Africa has the highest green building share currently of any country in the study. It also showed the green building impetus in South Africa is set to continue, making it a possible leader in the green building sector in the next three years.
GBCSA is geared up for this growth with its Green Star SA and EDGE accredited professional training programmes. The council boasts 1,540 accredited professionals that have already been trained since the GBCSA launched in 2007. Providing relevant training and education is another way in which the GBCSA is proving influential in shifting South Africa towards a green economy and encouraging its sustainable growth.
Ultimately, green building is all about creating better places for people and all living things.
“There’s an increasing body of evidence that office design influences the health and well-being of occupants in many ways. Thus, creating green buildings that are healthy is a smart business move. This is as true for the public sector as it is for the private sector,” stresses Modise.
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