I write this from Johannesburg on a beautiful autumn morning. Currently I’m enrolled in a distance-learning climate change short course through the University of Cambridge’s GetSmarter programme. It has been a great learning opportunity with like-minded people from all over the world. A key issue in the course is how the story of climate change and environmental issues can be ‘marketed’ better. The doom and gloom approach (albeit a potential reality) doesn’t resonate well enough with people to make them want to buy into change. Real-life case studies of successes and positive affirmation have a much better impact in driving behavioural change.

As always, this month’s +Impact issue has some amazing success stories, and we must continue to help bring about positive transformation. Nedbank, an early adopter and leading organisation in the environmental space, has attained a 6-Star Green Star New Build rating for its Namibian head office in Windhoek – a fantastic achievement.

The pilot of the GBCSA’s Green Star New Build V2 tool is set to be launched in the last quarter of 2023. Every category will have one or more minimum requirements, which will work together across the different categories. We take a closer look at how these minimum requirements have been expanded.
The Lapalala Wilderness school in the picturesque Waterberg region is a case study in how to achieve Net-Zero Carbon Level 2 rating in an off-the-grid area of the Limpopo province.

When it comes to driving the environmental change agenda, the efficient use of technology poses a massive opportunity. The Internet of things (IOT) and blockchain are two potential areas that can help fuel positive change. Yogesh Gooljar provides his insights on the use of technology in computational design and building performance modelling.

Until now, reducing our carbon footprint has centred more on reducing CO2 emissions related to operations. Embodied carbon – produced during the manufacture and transportation of building materials, and the construction and demolition of buildings – is becoming a much larger issue. We examine the importance of embodied carbon and how it can be measured.

Addressing air quality issues is one of the positive themes to emerge post-pandemic. The air we breathe in our workspaces – something we often take for granted – is tackled in a thought leadership piece by Edward Hector.

I am always left inspired after being involved with the Greenovate Awards at any level: the exuberance of youth is always on display, and participating students are excited to take challenges head on with passion, purpose and optimism. We highlight the talented 2022 winners’ future-forward innovations towards a more sustainable built environment.

Our current reality in South Africa is that we have just endured the EFF national “shutdown day” on 20 March. This, along with student and health worker protests, and Operation Dudula activity, is indicative of a mood of societal unrest and discontent. While many of our readers are focused on the environmental aspect of environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG), the social component is just as significant in the South African context.

One way to stay positive is to take time out in nature. Activities as simple and attainable as going for a walk, closing your eyes and listening to birds, or kicking your shoes off and walking on the grass for some ‘grounding’ time, have an amazing impact on the soul.

I am fortunate enough to be heading off to the Masai Mara to enjoy a bucket-list trip in Kenya, and immerse myself in the beauty of nature. This will no doubt be a reminder that fighting our sustainability cause for the planet is 100% worth all of our time and effort. Happy reading.

Brian Unsted
GBCSA Chairman