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A matter of HEALTH in Green Buildings by Annelide Sherratt, Head of Department: Green Building Certifications, Solid Green

The Healthy Category of the V2 Tool emphasises the important role the built environment can and should play in improving the wellness of occupants. The space that we spend most of our time in, working or residing has a significant impact on how we feel, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Things like the level and source of light, the quality of the air, how noisy the environment is, what opportunities for activity, connection to natural spaces and materials all determine whether a building is health-giving or detrimental to our well-being.

If 90 % of our workday is spent indoors then staff /building users’ performance, presenteeism, absenteeism or number of sick days must be affected by the quality of the indoor environment (World Green Building Council, 2013). The above affects all building users for various building types. The economic argument of going green for places of employment is well founded.

Figure 1 Typical Business Operational Cost. (World Green Building Council, 2013)

Nurick and Thatcher, researching the link in South Africa between indoor environmental quality and productivity of green offices, using a case-study approach focused on the financial services sector, found that control of ambient noise levels, quality lighting, and temperature control were all drivers of productivity, while access to nature provides a positive contribution to psychological well-being (Nurick and Thatcher, 2023).

A high-quality indoor environment increases the comfort, wellbeing and health of its users. In a workplace, this can lead to increases in work-engagement, and facilitates a strong organisational culture. These, in-turn, promote increased productivity, attraction and retention of employees (Nurick and Thatcher, 2023).

The credits contained in the V2 Healthy Category are: Clean Air, Lighting Quality, Functional Acoustics, Exposure to Toxins, Amenity Comfort and Active Buildings, Connection to Nature, and lastly Thermal Comfort. The inclusion of these initiatives are reaffirmed in the report ‘A business case for green building’ by the WorldGBC, where an influence on productivity has been quantified through case studies, See figure 2.

Figure 2 Influence of Sustainable Initiatives on the Built Environment. (World Green Building Council, 2016)

A Green Star certified indoor environment is a healthy and productive indoor environment. This will continue to be the case in V2, even more strongly, due to the application of a new minimum requirement in the Healthy category, that aim to transform the market towards better IEQ controls.

Market transformation will be seen in implementing the minimum criteria for all projects related to the initiatives, Clean Air, Lighting Quality and Exposure to toxins.

The Healthy category ensures every ‘Green Building’ can be trusted to be safe, comfortable and conducive to the users physical and mental well-being. As minimum requirements call for good indoor quality air, daylight and artificial light levels, while minimising associated glare and eliminating pollutants related to printers, paints adhesives, sealants and flooring products.

The minimum requirements call on Architects, Electrical Engineers and Mechanical Engineers to implement the requirements as part of the early design process to not add additional cost as an afterthought. However, the intention of the minimum requirements is in no way trying to exclude any building from being able to achieve a Green Star rating, but rather establishing the baseline that moves the industry forward, rewards excellence within it, and means that we can say with certainty that Green Star buildings are healthy buildings for the people who live and work within them.

Nurick, S. and Thatcher, A., 2023. Examining the impact of indoor environmental quality on individual productivity of knowledge workers in green certified buildings. Journal of Corporate Real Estate.

Lisa Reynolds

Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

Lisa Reynolds is the CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa.

Lisa was the driver for the drafting of Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations for Buildings and has been involved in Energy Efficiency since 2003. She serves on many committees in the SABS and within the energy management professionals’ space. She was President of the SAEEC from 2016 to 2019 and was the previous President of the ESCo (Energy Services Companies) Association. Lisa was instrumental in the formation of SAFEE (Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency) within SAEEC.

She has assisted the South African Government with its Green Building Framework policies, Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives and Energy Efficiency Strategies

Her passion for the “Green space” started with the birth of the Green Building Council in 2007. Lisa served on the Board and the Technical Committee of the GBCSA, as well as on several Technical Working Groups for Rating Tools and Criteria. Lisa. became CEO in June 2020.

Lisa has a BSc, an MBA and a CEM. Lisa’s awards include the 2007 ETA Award for Women, 2008 Individual Energy (SAEE), 2012 SABS Standards Writer Award; the 2014 Women in Energy (SAWIEN); and the 2016 Ian Lane Hall of Fame award.

Lisa is committed to growing the Green Economy within a Green Recovery.

Organisational categories

As an organisational member, you will fall into one of the below categories, and be charged according to specific size indicators. Please reach out to us for any further clarity on which category is best for your organisation

Property Developers

Annual Turnover

Investors, Owners, Property Managers

Total Asset Value

Major Corporate Tenants & Retail

Annual Gross Rentals

Building Contractors

Annual Turnover

Building Product Manufacturers & Distributors

Annual Turnover

Professional Services: Architects, Designers, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, PM’s, Consultants, Legal

Number of employees

Research, Higher Education, NGO’S & Regulators

NGO or Research/Higher Education/ Regulators

Related Interests: Utilities, Financial, Insurance, etc.

Annual Turnover

Government

Local/ municipal/ provincial/ state 
Contact GBCSA to confirm your category