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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  10 Aug 2011

BUILDING: Green Building Takes Centre Stage


Recent Western Cape Business News

Green prophets and profits will unite at the Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) fourth annual Convention and Exhibition in Cape Town this October.

The GBCSA’s fourth annual Convention and Exhibition, sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, is attracting the attention of everyone from economists to architects to entrepreneurs to those who previously only thought of green as a place where they put -- and putt -- their golf balls.

So why the interest during the current global slump, against a background of famine, riots and economic meltdown?

It’s simply because it’s proving to make strong economic sense,” says Jason McLennan, who is a globally-acclaimed green building guru and CEO of the US based Living Building Institute, as well as a keynote speaker at the forthcoming GBCSA’s Convention.

Whether it’s higher building valuations, lower operating costs or improvements to worker productivity, the benefits of healthier, more efficient buildings are now too strong to ignore.”

But Green isn’t just about the environment: going green is now seen as the smart choice, and getting smarter all the time. It encompasses sustainability, accountability, beauty and, yes, all-important profitability.

There are still many myths around the cost of building green,” says McLennan. “People mistakenly assume that it will add considerable upfront cost to projects. The truth is that, regardless of your budget, there are green strategies that can be employed -- including many that can lower first costs. Taken as part of a holistic, integrated design strategy even high levels of performance can be achieved at very small premiums and in very short payback times.”  

Guest speaker Matt Coetzee, who is an internationally-experienced environmental scientist and planner, based in Australia, adds: “We have to move beyond seeing sustainable development as a charity or burden. The objectives of sustainable development -- which will ensure the world continues to be populated by consumers able to earn a good living -- and of traditional business are fundamentally aligned.”

Green building runs deeper than keeping profits in the green. It’s also about aesthetics, fresh air and comfort.

Architect, horticulturist and scientist Sidonie Carpenter, president of Green Roofs Australia, is another expert who will be in attendance at the convention. She likes to quote William McDonough when she discusses the importance of green roofing: “Our idea was that if a bird flew over the building, it would not know that anything had changed”.

Beauty aside, Carpenter offers insight and expertise into the role ecological roofs play as an integral, functional building element -- protecting watersheds, increasing biodiversity and measurably improving quality of urban life. Yes, she’s talking about putting a lawn on your roof -- maybe even a putting green.

South Africa is finally starting to understand the importance of green building, both ethically and economically, as well as from both a physical and mental health point of view, says the GBCSA’s new CEO, Brian Wilkinson.

He is backed up by Wits Professor Andrew Thatcher, Head of the Psychology Department: School of Human and Community Development and another GBCSA Convention speaker.

Now that the GBCSA GreenStar rating system is producing its first fully-accredited buildings, starting with the Nedbank Phase II Sandton Building, there is growing interest in understanding the economic and health benefits,” says Prof Thatcher.

These include cleaner air, better lighting and especially daylight, improved air movement, and more balanced ambient heating and cooling conditions.

From a psychological health perspective there are further anticipated benefits. “Advantages range from fewer physical health issues to less stress to the improved mental wellbeing and priceless peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you’re “doing your bit”.”

Wilkinson supports this and expresses his vision to make a meaningful contribution to the GBCSA by comprehensively tapping into all the skills, networks and experience available. As head of this growing, increasingly-influential organisation, Wilkinson brings with him an extensive blue-chip property background and the all-important unwavering commitment to green, sustainable principles.

The non-profit GBCSA was established in 2007 and is South Africa’s official representative at the World Green Building Council. As such, GBCSA has direct access to the most advanced and exciting green construction, building information and experts in the world, while also being responsible for local Green Star accreditation and training.

The GBCSA Convention and Exhibition, sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, will showcase the latest green building technology while bringing a wealth of global and local specialists together under one roof for workshops, lectures and networking.

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