Features & Latest News
Thursday, 18 August 2016 11:22

Net-zero building a must

Green building is rapidly gaining momentum worldwide and the GBCSA Convention, held at the Sandton Convention Centre in July, has yet again turned the attention to the effect of the built environment on climate change, but more importantly, also highlighted the potential for change.

“Green is no longer a nice to have, it is an absolute imperative,” stressed Seana Nkhahle, chairperson of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). “It is an imperative to use resources efficiently and address the impact of climate change while creating healthier, more productive, better environments for the people who occupy them.”

The GBCSA has tabled a set of ambitious targets at COP21 in Paris and is one of eight green building councils that are involved in ground-breaking new projects by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) that aim to ensure that all buildings are net zero by 2050.

Also speaking at the event, Terri Wills, chief executive officer of the World GBC, emphasised that green buildings are better for people, now and in the future. But in order to keep global warming below two degrees, Wills highlighted the following necessary actions:
1.    Achieving net-zero building as quickly as possible.
2.    Major deep renovation of existing buildings.
3.    Building green cities.

Advancing net zero
Wills explains that a net-zero building refers to net-zero emissions. “First and foremost it is a building that will reduce energy as much as possible, so dramatic energy-efficiency measures and the remaining energy must be renewable.”

The World GBC’s “Advancing net zero” project, which currently involves eight green building councils with more to follow, aims for all new buildings and renovations to be net zero starting in 2030, with 100% of buildings being net zero by 2050.

“That is around the corner, so we have a lot of work to do. But we believe that through the net-zero building certification scheme, we can really kick-start the market,” she stated.

Focusing on cities
Referring to a C40 Cities report on the powers of megacities around the world, Wills points out that cities have a lot of regulatory power over building regulations, compared to national governments, which means the world’s mayors can set strong standards, benchmarks and regulations over buildings.

Therefore, the World GBC and green building councils around the world are working closely with cities that are willing to take big steps in implementing strong regulations. One of these is the City of Tshwane, which has joined the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) partnership, part of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), in an effort to double the rate of energy efficiency by 2030.

“We’re set to transform the cities uptake of green buildings all around the world. The GBCSA is going to be working very closely with the City of Tshwane to develop and implement green building policies and programmes,” Wills added.