Green Building: Changing the Way the World is Built

green-city.jpgActivity in South Africa's green building sector has excelled in recent years as the government, businesses and developers in the country embrace sustainable building practices. At the moment, green buildings is leading the pack of green innovation in our country with systems and corroboration in place to educate inspire and assist all those who are serious about a more sustainable future.

Green building is a process of consciously thinking how to reduce our personal and global impact on our environment. The goals are:

• Efficient use of energy, water and all other natural and material resources.

• Look after our personal and global health while improving human productivity.

• Reducing waste, pollution and environmental dreadful conditions.

Many associate green with expensive energy-saving solutions such as solar panels, sod roofs or straw-bale homes. So is it possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of green buildings? A new inclusive report recently released from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), highlighted a large number of undeniable benefits from green buildings received by different stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a building. “It dispels the myth that green building is more expensive, lists the benefits of green building and provides the local proof of these,” explains Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) CEO, Brian Wilkinson.

Design and Construction Costs
There has been an overall shift in thinking towards the cut in design and construction costs associated with green building as building regulations around the world become stricter, supply chains for green materials and technologies mature and the industry becomes more skilled at delivering green buildings.

Asset Value
As investors become more knowledgeable about and concerned with the environmental and social impacts of the built environment, buildings with better sustainability records will have increased marketability. Additionally, there is a demonstrated link between the green characteristics of buildings and the ability of these buildings, in some markets, to more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices.

Operating Costs
Green buildings have been shown to save money through reduced energy and water consumption and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs. The energy savings alone typically exceed any cost premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period. The
Eskom Switch and Save residential mass roll out sees the provides households with free energy saving and load managing devices installed in their homes free of charge. Switching to gas appliances (heaters and stoves) may cost in the short term but save you significant amounts in the long run.

Workplace Productivity and Health
There is an emerging body of evidence suggesting that the physical characteristics of buildings and indoor environments can influence an employee’s productivity, occupant health and well-being, resulting in the end result benefits for businesses. The Allan Gray office building at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront vision and mechanical design of the building has ensured optimal indoor environmental quality for those working inside the
building to promote health and well-being. Building users have access to striking external views, ample natural daylight and care has been taken to specify paints, wood products and carpets that contain no harmful compounds that could possibly be inhaled by tenants.

Risk Alleviation
Sustainability risk factors can significantly affect the rental income and the future value of real estate assets, in turn affecting their return on investment. Regulatory risks have become increasingly obvious in countries and cities around the world, including mandatory disclosure, building policies and laws banning inefficient buildings.

The industry is embracing this vast shift towards sustainable practices and it is exciting to see this unfolding right before our eyes.

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