Future network of Green Building Councils across Africa

It seems that Africa is set to have a network of Green Building Councils in the near future. The concept was initiated at the 'Green Building Rating Systems in Africa' conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in May where it was recognized that countries within Africa are being establish their own Green Building Councils and will be taken a step further with the GBCSA’s “Africa Day” being held in Cape Town on 23 September.

The Nairobi conference involved participants from some 20 countries around Africa, who gathered to advance their understanding of green buildings, explore the notion of the development of green building council's and investigate the opportunities for green building rating tools.

Bruce Kerswill, Executive Chairman of the Green Building Council of South Africa and Director and Secretary of the World Green Building Council, attended the conference and offered the following feedback:

“Most countries were keen to explore the establishment of Green Building Councils, with their main motivations being the anticipated growth of development, more efficient use of infrastructure and resources and a return to a more traditional African way of building.”

“However, several major challenges do exist. Amongst them is a lack of awareness, insufficient resources for training, development and assessments and most importantly, small scale economies which lack a wealthy private sector to fund the activities of the GBC’s.”

“What came out of the conference was that all the countries were keen to see an African Network of GBC’s being developed, which is aligned to the World GBC and which would foster communication and assist with GBC development.”

Kerswill explains that South Africa is playing a facilitation role, working closely with the World GBC. The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the only established GBC on the continent, undertook to assist with getting the network started and also to put together website content to facilitate co-ordination.

“As far as rating systems go, the countries were keen to embrace voluntary rating tools, but stressed the importance of being relevant to Africa. There was a lot of for the Green Star rating system to be adopted as it has already been adapted to South African conditions and could potentially be further adapted to suit conditions in other specific African countries.”

With the support of the network, an Africa GBC Day will be held on 23 September, following the GBCSA Convention and Exhibition. The Africa GBC Day programme will be aimed at people interested in starting a GBC or who have already started the process. It will build on the outcomes from the Nairobi conference and the lessons learned since then, go into depth on the practicalities of building a GBC, and continue to develop the World GBC Africa Regional Network.

“Jane Henley, CEO of the WorldGBC, will be one of the discussion leaders at Africa GBC Day, as will I and Nicola Douglas, CEO of the GBC South Africa. There will also be several other discussion leaders, all with GBC experience from South Africa, Australia or the United States."

Subsequent to the Nairobi conference, three countries have taken official steps to promulgate GBC’s. “ It is great to see that the Nigeria Green Building Council has been recognized as a Prospective GBC by the WorldGBC. Further, Green Building Councils (GBCs) in Ghana and Kenya are on their way to becoming recognised as well. This is tremendous progress since the conference in Nairobi only a few months ago,” says Michelle Malanca of Michelle Malanca Sustainability Consulting, who was instrumental in facilitating the conference, held in Nairobi, on behalf of UN Habitat.

“There is still much to be done and the GBCSA will be offering our support where possible,” concludes Kerswill.

Article from: www.gbcsa.org.za