Green Building Convention 2016: effecting environmental transformation in the built environment in Africa

The private sector alongside civil society has a major role to play in achieving a world where we do not have to balance economic development and a stable climate, said Climate Reality Project’s Mario Molina at the Green Building Convention held on July 27, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Green Building Convention 2016 convened by the Green Building Council South Africa is the annual event where experts and decision makers gather to effect environmental transformation in the built environment within the African region.

Climate Reality Leadership Corps Director Mario Molina’s presentation took place during the third day of the Convention focused on ‘Building Bold and Visionary Leadership Now’. This session was looking into the  leadership needed to create the opportunities necessary for effective sustainability-driven strategy that focuses on a holistic economy benefiting humans, the planet and the financial market. Long term vision, the ability to see prospects within problems, a focus on purpose rather than just profit, as well as transparency and a commitment to sustainability are the keys to advancing a climate-smart building environment.

Mario explained that Climate Reality Leaders are taking action to foster behavioural change from the bottom up and across all stakeholders – communities, private sector, decision-makers. They advocate with the authorities to adopt and implement environmental-friendly policies, and take part in holding governments to account for the commitments made to tackle climate change. Their interventions cover the various areas that impact on climate change, including buildings, cities and infrastructure.

Mario stressed the importance of the event in the light of the fact that buildings are currently responsible for 6% of the global greenhouse gas emissions from the private sector.

A study commissioned by the Green Building Council South Africa shows that building ‘green’ is on average only 5% more expensive in terms of upfront building costs than ‘conventional’ building.

The World Building Council plans on making all buildings carbon neutral by 2050. This would have an extensive long term impact on carbon mitigation. In fact, breakthrough technologies and mindsets are already providing multiple opportunities to deliver on sustainability on the continent through green building effectiveness, provided that they can rely on supportive and forward-looking legal and financial frameworks.