Building Centre is now home to eco exhibit which is set to establish SA's standards using a newly launched eco assessment tool

A new "green" verification and rating assessment process for manufacturers, product suppliers, contractors and subcontractors serving the building industry is being launched this month in Cape Town - with the aim of becoming recognised and used throughout South Africa.

Rayne Neave, a granddaughter of the architect, Laurie Wale, who founded the Building Centre, from where she works, has used the knowledge and experience of a number of experts in the field of sustainability to set up the first South African assessment criteria to legitimise and verify sustainable environment claims in the sectors listed above.

"I have," said Neave, "always been passionate about environmental awareness and the promotion of green products and practices. What encouraged me to go ahead with developing an assessment tool was firstly, that there is in SA as yet no foolproof accreditation process to prove that a building product or company is complying with recognised and accepted international standards – and secondly, that many of the major players have confirmed that they do want to adopt and work by these standards."

Neave has on her team the SA architect, Keith Struthers, who has been promoting green building concepts for 25 years and the consulting engineers and environmental scientists, Jeffares and Green, who are ISO 9001 certified.

The assessment model, says Neave, is in accordance with ISO 14024 (the SA national standard for environmental labels and declarations, principles and procedures). It, therefore, meets international standards.

All assessments, says Neave, are third party verified and independently audited by Jeffares and Green.

"There are," she added, "four main categories under which an candidate can label his application. These are all rated between one and six stars.

The categories are:

  1. Eco Product – for products and building materials:
  2. Eco Ethic – for good environmental practice for companies and services;
  3. Eco Contractors – for contractors or subcontractors who comply with Eco Exhibit’s recommended Environmental Management Plan (EMP);
  4. Eco Excellence – which is issued to applicants who have completed an environmental footprint assessment.

"Qualifying for this last category," said Neave, "will be those firms which take their environmental measures to a higher level."

Those wishing to make use of the service have first to undergo a pre-qualification assessment by filling in the Pre-Application Form. Details of this can be found on the website

"There is," said Neave, "a small fee for this service to discourage frivolous enquiries and just-testing-the-water applications. If it is then decided that they can be accredited at some level, the subsequent fee is based on their annual turnover."

Big name clients such as Clicks, said Neave, are taking steps to green their building practices and are using the Eco Exhibit Assessment tool to rate all their building material suppliers for the new stores that they roll out, the aim being to reduce their environmental impact.

"We intend to set the SA standard of accreditation" said Neave. "We are committed to setting new benchmarks in this field. SA industry leaders, almost without exception, recognise that this is the way to go and that we, in fact, have no other alternative in the building environment but to be sustainable."

Article by: