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Green building

Why going green is good

By Esther De Villiers

, |

Green building

Why going green is good

By Esther De Villiers

, |

2 min read

When it was announced in November that South Africa had concluded a historic agreement to secure R131 billion for the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy, the news was celebrated in international environmental circles. On a national level, estate managers and developers can contribute by building green and maintaining planet-friendly standards.

Who’s goal is it anyway?

The goal is to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by the middle of this century by accelerating the phase-out of coal, curtailing deforestation, accelerating the switch to electric vehicles and encouraging investment in renewable energy.

‘But,’ claims Ciaran Ryan in a recent report on the plan, ‘the transition has the potential to negatively impact certain sectors of the economy, such as mining, energy, manufacturing and transport.’

Where does that leave captains of the construction industry?

The culprits

According to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the construction and building industry combined contributes around 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions globally.

The WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment calls on the construction sector to take action to decarbonise the built environment, inspire others to take similar action, and remove barriers to implementation.

As member of the international body, Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) shares the vision that ‘buildings and infrastructure around the world can reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve 100% net zero emissions building by 2050’.

From the cradle

For estate planners keen to get on the green bandwagon, it’s imperative to plot each step from conception and design to the building process, and subsequent operation and management.

After following the GBCSA’s guidelines for green building solutions and procuring the best alternative energy solutions – rainwater tanks, solar geysers, heat-pumps, low-flow plumbing fixtures and LED lighting – ensuring these fixtures are installed by experts is key.

And that’s when the management part kicks in: apart from standards set by the International Organisation of Standardisation, comprehensive global management tools are provided by the Green Estate Environmental Rating Programme (see for more information).

It is tailored to the needs of the respective owners and operators/managers of residential estates, and offers support and assistance, evaluation by external audits, and incremental recognition that can be improved over time.

Integral areas of evaluation are management systems (including operating procedures and systems); resource management (water, energy, and waste); and community development, which looks at the extent to which members are incorporated into activities of the estate, and whether these impact their lives positively or negatively.

Joint effort required

It seems that in construction as in child-rearing, it takes a village (viz: estate) to raise a greener built environment. Also joining forces are those decisionmakers tasked with plotting the way forward for South Africa. They have a six-month deadline to identify how the world’s monetary gift will practically effect a less environmentally toxic country.

‘Within a year, a more comprehensive financial plan for reducing Eskom’s financial sustainability will be proposed, while means of addressing the country’s longer-term funding needs to lower emissions will be devised,’ says Ryan.

There has never been a better time for our building and related industries to bolster these objectives.

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