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Women in the built environment sector: We need you to help lead the sustainability drive

Women’s month is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing contribution that South African women are making across every sphere of life. It is also fitting for it to be a time to mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity – particularly in sectors such as construction and the built environment, where imbalances are still notably apparent in this male-dominated terrain.

Perhaps more important than simply equalising the scales, World Green Building Council CEO Cristina Gamboa made the comment that better outcomes for women mean a better future for our planet: “Diversity and equality are inextricably linked to our mission to create green buildings for everyone, everywhere.” As a global network of around 70 green building councils working to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050 through transforming the building and construction sector, more than half of the CEOs are female.

We need collective action

Dorah Modise, CEO of the GBCSA, has been shaking up the green buildings movement locally for the past few years, increasing the number of certified buildings. She is now working with the public sector to develop and implement policy which would ensure net zero carbon, waste, water and ecology for all new builds. Further to this, she is also supporting those working in sustainable
development in other African countries, ensuring that protecting the environment is part of the solution. “We need collective action if there is going to be a win for the entire continent. It’s a tall order but I’m not going to give up,” she says.

It is perhaps this unique type of determination and zeal that makes women such a critical part of environmental transformation. As Yvonne Soh, Executive Director of the Singapore GBC says: “Women have a great propensity to think beyond ourselves, to think of others and our environment. We tend to be the ones who nurture the natural world and that makes us more than qualified to lead the fight against climate change.” Chile GBC CEO Maria Fernanda Aguirre Busto comments, “I think women are good leaders. Often our work is very structured; we are good at planning and organisation; we foster good relationships; we multitask and we can take a holistic approach to problem solving.”

We need change

But, as is often the perceived case in South Africa, Busto says that the society in Chile is very unequal with notable pay discrepancies between men and women. “In the built environment sector, women are often left in admin positions and not seen as decision makers. Women are constantly having to prove themselves; society asks more of you.” She relishes the opportunity to talk about gender balance, not just in terms of equal pay, but also challenging the culture that might hold women back, including long hours or inflexible working.

And where does that leave South African women, working in the property sector? As Gamboa says: “To prevent further devastating climate change, we need these passionate and dynamic women to inspire women around the world to take action. They are the catalysts for change we need to cut greenhouse gases and limit the planet’s rising temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” If you’re in the sector and not yet playing a part in greening it, do consider the work of the Green Building Council and get in touch to find out how membership and training can transform your company, and, ultimately, the planet.

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