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Staying ‘positive’ in a changing landscape by Francois Retief, Sow and Reap Green Building Solutions

With an updated version of the Green Star rating system under development, I have had the privilege of leading a team of volunteers in the development of a category within this tool entitled ‘positive’. A name which at first I found myself somewhat resistant to, but that in time I have come to embrace as a mantra for how we can shape our buildings going forward.

Below are some of my personal perspectives on the themes that emerged through the category development, and how they may shape our role as the built environment in South Africa.

The nuts and bolts:

The positive category quite simply “encourages a positive contribution to key environmental issues of carbon and water”. Credits in the category include:

  • Upfront carbon (materials and construction impact)
  • Operational carbon (energy consumption impact)
  • Other carbon (refrigerants & other carbon impacts in the lifecycle)
  • Water use

Whilst these concepts are by no means new to the sustainability movement or the Green Star rating system, it is the way that they are implemented in the tool that I feel has real potential.

A focus on performance

We will see the measured utility performance of buildings playing a very important role going forward. This is driven by many factors including the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) in the South Africa, and a strong push for Net Zero Carbon trajectories. Whilst currently the focus is largely on energy, the same trend will no doubt follow for water.

As such, designers will need to become more proficient at quantifying the operational impact of buildings upfront as clients request alignment with targets. The new rating tool will seek to close the gap as far as possible between predicted and actual performance in this regard. A gap that in the past has received a fair amount of criticism in green building rating tools internationally.

Positive buildings – self reliant, but also giving back

When we think about how a building integrates into its surroundings, we often think first about how the surrounding services can serve the building, e.g. energy and water infrastructure. We are now moving into a world however where buildings can meet much of these needs themselves. And as our buildings become less reliant on surrounding infrastructure, it opens up space for a conversation on how the building can contribute back to the community it serves.

In some respects, the analogy of our buildings growing from teenagers to adulthood could be applied. As a teenager, we are very much reliant on our support systems. As we grow into adults, we become more integrated into society as a productive part. Able to take care of our own needs, whilst contributing to the collective. This is the vision we have for positive buildings of the future.

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  • 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.

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