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Transforming tomorrow, today – by Georgina Smit

Georgina Smit is Head of Technical at the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). She oversees certification and research-related products that drive the property sector to design, build and operate buildings in a more sustainable way.

She manages the Technical team at the GBCSA who are responsible for independently certifying green and net zero buildings and identifying market leaders.

COP 27, branded the “Implementation COP” with an emphasis on action, has come and gone with several debates, opinions and expectations. What did it actually achieve?

On the positive side, a loss and damage fund was agreed to by developed countries. This means that there is an agreement between developed countries to establish a dedicated fund for developing countries that experience the unavoidable effects of climate change. Acknowledging that the loss and damage of vulnerable communities in developing countries are disproportionate has taken some time and is counted as a significant step on the global stage of collaboration.

Unfortunately little to no real commitment was made with regard to phasing out fossil fuels, increasing adaptation funding and limiting emissions to a 1.5 degrees Celsius trajectory – all of which are key items for us to act on if we are serious about climate change. As it stands, we are far from limiting temperature rise: “we are far from the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C. Policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century.” (UNEP, 2022)

Watching COP outcomes from the sidelines, I was left asking myself, what can we transform today, so that tomorrow is built better? It made me think of a recent trip I went on where GBCSA was invited as part of a delegation from Cape Town and the Western Cape to Barcelona, by Bauhaus Earth and the Institute of Advanced Architecture for Catalonia (IAAC). The purpose of the trip was to understand what Barcelona is doing to achieve its 2050 net zero commitments by addressing transport, operational emissions, and embodied carbon in the building sector, and to explore the possibility of future collaboration.

We were invited to an amazing exhibition at the iconic Mies van der Rohe Pavillion in Barcelona, titled Mass is More, which drove a point home in relation to implementing change right now, to alter our future trajectory.  The installation shows how the use of wood, particularly Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) can significantly reduce the high CO2 upfront embodied emissions that are associated with building materials. The conceptual thinking behind the architectural installation was also about a look-out viewpoint to our future, built on the foundation of our past; acknowledging that solutions and our concept of what is beautiful and functional change, and evolves over time.

The exhibition reminded me that those in the built environment have many options for agency. There are so many ways we can affect change right now. This is not to say that several options are not without their challenges and uphill battles – but just that the impetus to act, and to act now, can be expressed via several outlets. And this, I found hopeful.

Most of us are already busy with the foundational basics of greening buildings. We all appreciate that transforming tomorrow is going to need more than that, however.  Key ways to transformation over and beyond what we are already doing, and with an emphasis on action, must continue its focus on increasing capital allocation in the direction of green projects, and neutralising impacts of development projects via net zero targets. Bold goals but ones that every individual green building project can contribute towards, today.

Transforming tomorrow, today. How are you currently implementing change?

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

Government

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