According to the leading non-profit making organisation, Green Building Council South Africa (GBC SA), building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people and communities.
Jarrod Lewin, business development manager at GBC SA told CNBC Africa that green building industry in South Africa has grown tremendously over the last few years.
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“The green building movement is about seven years old. We started out with one to four buildings and we have grown exponentially year-on-year to about 60 this year,” he noted.
Lewin added that South Africa presently had about a million square metres of green buildings.
Grahame Cruickshanks, manager for climate change and sustainability services for green buildings at Ernst & Young augmented claims by Lewin saying the uptake of green buildings had been rising rapidly.
“Energy efficiency was one of the primary drivers initially, but we are starting to see much greater awareness around environmental and social governance issues,” posited Cruickshanks.
“With regards to the level of innovation, we are ranked with the best in the world and with regards to sheer numbers we have a lot of catch up to do.”
The majority of South Africa’s built environment was constructed for a different era and different type of resource consumption.
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Cruickshanks added that Eskom’s load shedding crisis was one of the factors that transformed people’s perceptions with regards to resource consumption.
“Consumer and corporate awareness around environmental issues has been one of the factors that changed perceptions and awareness,” he explained.
He says regulatory environments have been reactionary rather than leading with regards to the actual regulations.
According to Cruickshanks, the Green Building Council has played a big role in drawing the green buildings industry into a more formal space.
“We haven’t upped our game as far as facility management, building construction and design.”
He further stated that it was hard for one to walk into a modern building and find lights on as electronic building management systems’ lighting was now controlled by censors.