WGBW2017 Drives Awareness to Advance Net Zero Buildings

World Green Building Week takes place from 25 September – 1 October 2017 and we are proud to be participating in this green initiative to view buildings as catalysts for action against climate change. This year’s theme “Our Hero Is Zero”, is driving awareness around the need for rapid transformation in the building sector to achieve 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050.

What is World Green Building Week all about?

World Green Building Week is an annual event dedicated to empowering the green building community in the hopes of providing green buildings for everyone around the world. The event is lead by the World Green Building Council (World GBC) – a global network of green building council’s “transforming the places we live, work play, heal and learn.” The need to fight climate change is greater than ever before, and buildings have a great impact on carbon footprint statistics globally. It is said that buildings are accountable for over a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst the effort around transforming the construction sector cannot be confined to one week, this event aims to spread wide-scale awareness on the need for accelerated change with green buildings as catalysts.

You may be thinking “what is a net zero building?”  

Net zero buildings are self-sustaining green buildings that generate their own energy needed to operate through renewable energy sources in order to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Net zero buildings not only concern carbon emissions and energy supply, but also pertain to waste and water. In terms of waste, a net zero building is one that reduces, reuses and recovers its waste and converts it into valuable resources in both the construction and operation of the building. In terms of water usage, a net zero building is one that reduces its total water consumption by recycling and reusing water so that the amount of water consumed is the same as the amount produced. This applies to all stages of the building’s lifecycle, from design to construction and finally operation.

Advancing Net Zero

In 2016, the World GBC lead a project called “Advancing Net Zero” whereby ten green building council’s from around the world (including the Green Building Council South Africa) came together to support one another in achieving net zero buildings within their own respective markets. Whilst it was clear that net zero buildings would be different depending on geographical context, the green building councils agreed on 4 key principles which would guide the national green building council’s in defining their own versions of a Net Zero certification scheme.

  1. Carbon is the ultimate metric
  2. A minimum level of building energy efficiency should be required
  3. The balance of energy to be provided from renewable sources has a general hierarchical preference of on-site, off-site and then offset
  4. Net Zero certification programmes should continually improve in terms of verification and rigour

What does this mean for South Africa?

In the South African context, Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) are in the process of carrying out pilot projects in order to test their version of a Net Zero certification scheme and implement it as a measuring tool to encourage net zero/net positive buildings. The GBCSA is striving to establish an environment in which both people and the planet flourish with the end goal of complete market transformation in mind. It is imperative that both people and buildings become more sustainable in efforts to reduce our impact on the earth to net zero. We are proud to be working on net zero certification pilot projects with the GBCSA.

Check out the infographic below, compliments of the World GBC to get a more visual understanding of a net zero buildings. We are excited to be participating in this global initiative to strive for a greener future! Let’s aim high and work towards achieving 100 percent net zero buildings by 2050 globally.

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