As the world embraces ‘green’ initiatives, products and services, South Africa is implementing renewable energy, green building practises and environmental regulation to lessen the impact on our environment and precious resources. This opens doors for suppliers to turn their operations “green” and provide services that comply with current standards and that enhance corporate responsibility, says Shawn Theunissen, head of CSR at Growthpoint Properties and Property Point (Growthpoint Properties’ enterprise development programme) in this month’s SmartProcurement.
What is ‘green building’?
Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to a physical structure and a construction process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle: from where the structure is sited, to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. “It also includes the carbon footprint of transporting goods to building sites,” says Theunissen, “which means sourcing products locally becomes a big issue and SME suppliers can take advantage of this.”
Green buildings afford their occupants a healthier environment and are more economical, consuming less power from the national grid owing to the use of special glass and insulation products. Much of the materials used in green building are recycled or recyclable, so property developments use fewer natural resources. “Service providers – whether offering services and products during construction or to the companies that ultimately occupy these buildings – should be looking for ways of assisting developers and occupants to claim ‘green’ status,” Theunissen says. “This means knowing the regulations and bylaws and using compliance to win contracts.”
Green regulations and jobs in South Africa
In November 2011, government determined that South Africa’s construction industry go green when new energy efficiency building regulations came into effect, creating new jobs, and boosting green architecture and building trends in the country.
Architects – both exterior and interior – as well as developers, builders and contractors are required to know the new laws and work accordingly. “Anyone involved in the property arena, as well as start-ups looking to expand their services to the industry, should first be familiar with regulations and make their procurement choices accordingly,” Theunissen stresses.
Buildings are now required to use solar water heaters, heat pumps or similar energy-efficient technologies; while ceilings, walls and windows must meet minimum requirements in insulation to minimise the need for and cost of heating in winter and cooling in summer. Furthermore, buildings are required to be fitted with energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems.
“Environment-friendly products and services are no longer ‘nice-to-haves’: they are determined by law to protect our country’s resources. SME suppliers stand to improve their chances of winning contracts by knowing the law and anticipating needs accordingly. Property Point is encouraging and assisting entrepreneurs and start-ups to see the huge benefits of getting their houses in order in this regard,” he adds.
Theunissen points out that the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) defines a green building as “one that is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible”. He says: “Environmental friendliness in the case of property development covers all areas of a building, starting with design and construction, and includes operational methods that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and occupants of the buildings.”
To view information on green building and bills/laws, Property Point suggests reading through as much material as possible to gain a better understanding of what potential clients may need or want from service providers. The SABS and SESSA websites are a good place to start.
For more information on how procurement can build and support SMEs contact Property Point.