The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), in conjunction with the World Green Building Council (WGBC), are developing a framework and new rating tool category for green buildings that will make green certification ratings even more relevant to the unique circumstances of developing countries.
The social and economic development framework and category, when completed, will feature an innovative set of benchmarks that, when applied primarily to the design and construction of green buildings in developing countries, will address societal challenges such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, lack of education and skills, and poor health.Social and economic impacts are included
"By expanding the focus of green buildings, the GBCSA and the WGBC hopes to strengthen the relevance of a Green Star rated building in the context of development priorities in South Africa and internationally," explains Bruce Kerswill, the executive chairman of the GBCSA and the vice-chairman of the WGBC.
The concept of sustainability usually spans three factors - social, economic and environmental. Most green building rating systems have understandably focused exclusively on environmental impacts so far, but there is an increasing interest in the inclusion of social and economic impacts as well - especially in developing countries which have to address issues of meeting fundamental needs.
"The socio-economic framework to be created will concentrate on the factors seen as the biggest challenges in developing countries, and which can most readily be measured and included in rating tools," explains project manager, Sarah Rushmere. Prototype to be developed for SA
The WGBC sees this as an important initiative that will help address the needs of all its developing country members. Once the international framework is created, then a prototype socio-economic category will initially be developed specifically for Green Star South Africa, but will be adaptable to other leading international green building rating tools.
This category can act as a stand-alone or as an add-on component for Green Star SA and other leading international green building rating tools which are used in developing countries. Building projects will be rewarded for their design and construction-phase interventions which improve employment and economic opportunity; education and skills training; equality; community engagement and benefits; and improved health and safety. The aim is to make this first socio-economic category simple and focussed on a set of top priority 'big hit' factors.
The Social and Economic Development category will also be the subject of a panel discussion during a breakaway session as part of the 5th annual GBCSA Convention and Exhibition taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 23 to 25 October.