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Green building policy for 'old, sick' govt buildings

Oct 08 2018 20:32
Carin Smith

The Department of Public Works has launched its green building policy, which includes increasing the efficiency of buildings, supporting sustainable construction, and rolling out a bankable business case for "green" projects.

Another important aspect for the minister – and part of the green building policy – is enabling the creation of "green jobs".

The policy was launched at the opening of the 11th Convention of the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) on Wednesday evening.

The convention, under the theme "The Race to Zero", takes place at the Century City Conference Centre this week.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi was originally scheduled to launch his department's green building policy at the convention. However, he could not make it due to attending the memorial service of the late Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

In a message delivered on the minister's behalf, delegates were told that the Department of Public Works is responsible for more than 100 000 facilities at national level. It therefore wants to ensure it takes proper care of these buildings.

It is estimated that globally the built environment is responsible for about 40% of annual energy consumption.

The minister sees the green building policy as a way to help reduce carbon emissions. He wants all role players to be "on the same page" in the process of driving sustainability. He also wants his department to play an important role in providing leadership regarding sustainability.

Already in 2011, the department, in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), introduced a broad green building framework at Cop17 in Durban.

Bankable business case

The minister wants his department to collaborate with other government departments in implementing sustainable building practices.

The green building policy addresses, among other things, increasing the efficiency of buildings and the support of sustainable construction, by improving the performance of assets and the use of green materials.

The department is planning to roll out a bankable business case for investible projects in this regard. It will include green building assessments, retrofitting buildings in a cost-effective manner and even looking at establishing rooftop gardens.

Industry players in all spheres of government were urged to implement the green building policy.

Dorah Modise, CEO of the GBCSA, said the public sector was critical for the sustainable building movement in SA. She noted that the Department of Public Works was the biggest property owner in SA and must, therefore, lead by example.

"We know the Department of Public Works has many old, sick buildings. But gone are the days when the private sector did not trust the public sector with regards to green building and vice versa," she said.

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