On 11–15 September 2023 – World Green Building Week – the WorldGBC and its network of over 75 Green Building Councils united in a call to the global green building community.

Words and Images WorldGBC

the transition

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is the largest and most influential local-regional-global action network, leading the transformation to sustainable and decarbonised built environments for everyone, everywhere.

Now in its 15th year, the campaign World Green Building Week 2023 (# WGBW23) was the most successful yet as Green Building Councils (GBCs) around the world hosted events, joined in the campaign on social media and took part in a unified message to demonstrate that through systems change thinking, and leveraging local solutions, we can transition to sustainable built environments.
The #BuildingTheTransition campaign called upon the global building and construction sector to accelerate the transition to secure an energy-efficient, regenerative and just future for all. In one week, over 120 events were hosted across 35 countries, including South Africa.

At the GBCSA gathering were, from left: Ian Haupt, Chief Mechanical Engineer at the Western Cape Government’s Department of Transport and Public Works; Ebrahim Jakoet; Gavin Kode; GBCSA CEO Lisa Reynolds; Tracy Davids; and Karl-Robert Gloeck.

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) hosted a Wednesday Wine event, presented by the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure, in which guests had the opportunity to gain insights into the evolution of the 9 Dorp Street project from the perspective of the department’s internal certification team.

The distinguished panel of speakers included Dr Gavin Kode, Deputy Director-General of the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure; Tracy Davids, Deputy Director of the Immovable Asset Management Directorate; Ebrahim Jakoet, Mechanical Engineer in General Infrastructure; and Karl-Robert Gloeck, Chief Architect in Health Infrastructure. They shared invaluable stories and lessons learned on their journey to achieving a 4-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance V1 certification.

Far-reaching impact

With a social media reach of 6.5 million, 85% of GBCs taking part and over 20 press features around the world, the campaign demonstrated the power behind a unified voice.

The campaign tied into events and political action taking place on the global stage too. At the UN Climate Summit COP28 taking place in Dubai, UAE, (30 November – 12 December 2023), the world’s first Global Stocktake will result in a review of the collective goals agreed upon under the Paris Agreement, highlighting areas of progress and identifying key gaps before countries submit updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2024. WGBW23 also led into the UN’s 2023 SDG Summit (18–19 September) and therefore pinpointed 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are essential to catalyse a sustainable built environment.

Throughout the week, WorldGBC’s network also shared examples of #BuildingTheTransition across three themes:

The Energy Transition
The energy transition is about more than switching to renewable energy. We’re talking about a complete systemic change – accelerating the uptake of built environments that reduce energy demand, store and share clean energy, and produce more energy than they use. It’s investing in clean technologies and driving economies of scale. And it’s deep retrofitting existing buildings to be exceptionally energy-efficient.

The Regenerative Transition
How do we advance regenerative principles in the built environment from niche to normal? Our planet’s resources give us life, but they are not infinite. Humans and the built environment must exist together within a cycle of natural systems. That means not just protecting biodiversity, but also prioritising its restoration, embracing nature-based solutions, and creating a thriving circular economy across the entire building value chain.

The Just Transition
We cannot achieve climate justice without social justice. The people who have contributed the least to environmental degradation are suffering the biggest consequences. Equality is not the same as equity. Advancing a just transition in the built environment means committed solidarity to protect human rights from financial flows, to supply chains, to geopolitics.

Find out more at www.worldgbc.org/wgbw23 and see the social media campaign at @WorldGBC (www.twitter.com/worldgbc), #BuildingTheTransition and #WGBW23.

A message from Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council:

“Thank you to our network for presenting such a powerful and unified call during #WGBW23. We are grateful to GBCSA for the leadership they demonstrated, hosting events and taking part in social media throughout the week. Over 8% of the GBCs and a range of partners demonstrated that by leveraging localised solutions from across the built environment, we can accelerate the global transition to a decarbonised, sustainable and resilient society. The built environment is the largest contributing sector to global energy-related carbon emissions – and therefore it is key to leveraging solutions to secure a sustainable future for all.

“We have had a final reminder from this year’s Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we must take urgent action if we are to prevent our being evicted by an uninhabitable planet. Yet while we may be running out of time, by no means are we running out of solutions, which are being pioneered around the world right now by our global network, as we advocate together for #BuildingTheTransition.

“If we are to succeed, solutions must be scaled up, and that’s why political and industry ambition is crucial. Our global community sent a strong message to leaders around the world that the time to act is now, and it is with their ongoing support which is driving action to transition to energy efficient, regenerative and just built environments for everyone, everywhere.”