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Introduction to Transforming Tomorrow: New Build v2 – in conversation with GBCSA’s CEO, Lisa Reynolds and Head of Technical, Georgina Smit

GBCSA’s Lisa Reynolds and Georgina Smit share with us their thoughts on the Transforming Tomorrow New Build v2 tool, its significance, an overview of the process so far and when it will launch.

Question 1: Why does the market need the new tool and how does this tie in with GBCSA’s future vision / strategy?

Georgina:  This tool is about updating our definition of what a green building is, to be better aligned with recent global sustainability trends and to include more socio-economic elements. The market needs an updated, inclusive, holistic definition of a green building in terms of design and as built initiatives, and this is going to define this for the South African property sector.  One of our key goals is to drive market transformation, towards more sustainable outcomes – a more relevant tool allows teams to better implement pertinent solutions, which is why we have called it “Transforming Tomorrow” – it’s about delivering impact that is meaningful and transformative for our market.

Lisa:  In 2009, the South African built environment started its expedition into a “green” terrain; and in 2023, that terrain is better known and better established. This new tool serves as a map to the next stage of our foray into sustainability.  It builds on the knowledge that we have gained and stretches us a little further.  Also, building on the existing increased base knowledge of the sustainability space, a lot of the current documentation requirements will not be necessary, and the process of certification will be stream-lined. Another factor is that this tool incorporates all building typologies.  And, as Georgina said, this tool aligns with global sustainability trends and South African socio-economic elements. All these factors reveal a tool that offers solutions to the global and local requirements with a potential broader embrace, whist maintaining a robust standard.

Question 2:  What do you feel is most significant about this new tool and what are the hopes for its impact i.e. how will it transform tomorrow’s buildings?

Georgina: It has purposefully been updated to be very outcomes focused. Significantly, this tool deepens a project’s focus on carbon and water, with the aim to really achieve positive impacts. It also provides a clear framework to address some of our key developmental challenges such as grid resilience, carbon emissions, responsible supply change management and water supply. I think because this tool has several minimum requirements, it can provide a clear message to the market that any Green Star rated building has been designed and built to perform well, provide healthy spaces, be responsibly managed and not significantly harm our ecological systems – that’s impact!

Lisa: The members of the WorldGBC (including GBCSA), the C40 cities, South Africa’s National Development Plan etc state our/their goals towards Net Zero Carbon. Energy and water security are vital. These things can be lofty goals and form existential crises if we don’t have action plans – if we don’t have milestones. This new tool will serve as that guide – the implementation of an action plan – which will bring us closer to achieving these goals and mitigating the crises. Transforming tomorrow’s buildings is about future proofing buildings as a huge part of our net zero goals.

Question 3: Paint me a 2 minute picture of GBCSA 3 years strategy and how this tool fits in?

Georgina:  This tool fits into GBCSA’s strategy by driving market transformation. Green Star is aligned with other global comparisons that provide a comprehensive, holistic assessment of sustainability.

Lisa: People questioned why GBCSA decided to tackle New Build Version 2 in this economic climate and where not many new buildings were being built. My reply is that the New Build rating tools have always been the foundation of the other rating tools. GBCSA wants to have an artillery of rating tools based on the foundations mentioned above – holistic, inclusive, relevant tools which offer solutions to global sustainability and socio-economic needs. GBCSA needs to spend time in drafting/creating a strong foundation for the next steps in our strategy. We will be engaging with our members in prioritizing the next tools to be created or updated or refined.

Question 4:  If you have to highlight one category of the new build tool that you are particularly excited about, which one would that be and why?

Georgina:  I’m very excited about the upfront embodied carbon initiative, which forms part of the Positive Category.  All Green Star buildings will have to consider how their structural and architectural choices contribute to embodied emissions. Typically, our market focuses only on operational. Whilst this is of the utmost importance, our total carbon trajectory demands a whole life carbon vision, which would include embodied carbon. We believe the market is ready for this transformative step and hope to see some innovative materials and design strategies as solutions.

Lisa: I am excited about the “people” aspect of the New Build tool. I am passionate about the green economy and any place where there is inclusion of people – socio-economic, education and/or job creation. GBCSA, our members and the stakeholders are part of this “Green Community”. The inculcation of the people category within the tool assists with the growth of this community.

Question 5: Give me an overview of the process required to update this tool and when the market can expect this tool to launch.

Georgina:  If everything goes according to plan, we are hoping to launch a pilot version of this tool by the year end! We are in the process of developing detailed scope of works for technical packages to complete the tool development. Once this work is done, the tool must still be subjected to approval from industry, our own board and the GBCA. We are looking forward to engaging with the market and different stakeholders as we showcase the tools progress throughout the year and get your feedback.

Lisa: I can’t give further insight into Georgina’s reply. All I can say is that I am looking forward to the industry engagement and for the built environment to share in our excitement. Let’s transform tomorrow today!



Individual Membership

Designed for professionals acting in their individual capacity, including single consultant-businesses.

Organisational Membership

Ideal for companies, government departments, and organisations.

  • Total Employees: 1 - 5 Employees - R 4080.00
  • Total Employees: 6 - 20 Employees - R 12570.00
  • Total Employees: 21 - 50 Employees - R 24690.00
  • Total Employees: 51 Plus Employees - R 43840.00

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


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