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Top 5 green building trends for 2020

There are more than 500 certified green buildings in South Africa and this number keeps going up. The rands and sense of building green is becoming better understood by clients and an ever-growing number of services and products keep up with the demands of the green value chain. These are the green shoots of the sustainable building sector that we expect will mature into trends during 2020.

What is more sustainable, building a new building from scratch or retrofitting an existing one? It’s often said that the greenest building has already been built and the pre-existing structure allows for a quicker final delivery, significant embodied energy savings, and obliges lightweight construction and alternative building methods which in turn requires creative solutions and so upskills workforce. This also future-proofs the building and makes it more profitable. In South Africa we will see more retrofitting across the sector in well-placed commercial buildings being converted to penthouse apartments and luxury hotels, or industrial warehousing being modified into affordable housing, says sustainability consultant Mathew Streatfield of HereToday.


Starting at Net Zero
Net Zero is a GBCSA term for certification awarded to building projects that have no impact on the environment in either water, carbon (energy), or waste. Today firms serious about their contribution towards global warming are starting to take Net Zero as a base requirement for compliance. Companies will become more ambitious with the targets they set for themselves and the types of buildings they create as it reflects their commitment both as private individuals and corporate citizens to our blue planet, says Kevin James of GCX.


Regenerative buildings
Can you imagine a building that takes Net Zero a step further? Buildings are being operated, built and planned that not only use less water and energy than they can generate, but create natural environments for local ecosystems to thrive, filter the air and nearby water courses from pollution, and take advantage of opportunities for a broader socio-economic impact in the construction and operation phases.


Healthier air inside tighter envelopes
A tight building envelope restricts or controls how air is admitted into the building. Innovations in the design and materials of exterior walls, nearby outdoors landscaping using mature trees, green walls or roofs are used to tighten this envelope while taking the load off HVAC systems which ensure healthy and comfortable working and living environments. Material choices in furniture, paints, carpeting and finishes become increasingly important in this tight environment so those which exude toxic chemicals into the air are minimised. Appropriate building envelope design in response to orientation, end-user needs and environmental
context allows for the introduction of passive design innovations such as sun shading, thermal mass storage and potentially even natural ventilation based on prevailing wind conditions further reducing the HVAC load.


Green skills
As the world wakes up to the urgency of climate change, coupled with a tough economic environment, South Africa’s building and construction sector will increasingly receive briefs that require better resource efficiency and savings. The Green Building Council South Africa offers various accreditation courses for professionals at every stage of their career. Benefits extend beyond the expertise and wisdom imparted to exposure to its member base through events and discussion groups. Ask how having yourself or your team accredited by the GBCSA is in your best interest: [email protected].

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