CPD Roadshow – Net Zero Buildings in South Africa

CPD Roadshow – Net Zero Buildings in South Africa

In March 2022, Marloes Reinink was invited to present at the CPD Rigifoam Roadshow, which was held throughout South Africa. Titled ‘The Journey to Net Zero’, her presentation unpacked the global and local drive to net-zero carbon buildings, and how it will shape our built environment.

After 2 years of working from home, it was a nice change of scenery to present in person to groups of 150-200 architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. Each event was a day full of interesting presentations for professionals in the building industry. The presentations covered a variety of topics, from the latest trends in the architectural world to trends in paint colours.

In ‘The Journey to Net Zero’, we explored the drive to net zero carbon buildings and the Living Building Challenge. The first part looked at how the global drive to net zero relates to our local standards like SANS 10400-XA, and how it will influence our work as practitioners in the way that we design our buildings.

A number of our South African cities are part of the C40 global cities network and have committed to ensuring that all new buildings must be net zero by 2030, and that all existing buildings must be net zero 2050. According to the GBCSA’s Net Zero/Net Positive Certification Scheme, a net zero building is “a building that is highly energy-efficient, with the remaining energy requirement generated from renewable energy, preferably on-site or off-site where absolutely necessary.”

This is in line with the Paris Agreement which included a commitment from over 195 countries to limit our CO2 emissions to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees.

Buildings can play a huge part in this carbon reduction target because, with relatively little money, you can make a big difference – this is unlike other industries such as agriculture and transport.

Buildings and their operations are responsible for over 40% of global emissions. In order for us to meet the target of all new buildings being net zero by 2030 (which is in eight years’ time!), we need to deploy a different design methodology for buildings. This is all outlined in the report Getting to Zero: a guide to developing Net Zero Carbon buildings in South Africa.

As a rule, buildings in South African cities can achieve thermal comfort without mechanical heating or cooling. The first step is to employ all available passive design strategies for the climate the building is situated in. The second is to select the most energy efficient building systems (active design); and the final step is to look at renewable power sources (clean energy).

There are several projects in South Africa that have already achieved their net zero targets, with more in the pipeline:

  • Balwin Lifestyle Centres (there are six)
  • Balwin Head Office, Corlett Drive
  • Legaro: 76 + 78 Corlett Drive
  • In2Food Bonaero Facility
  • MDA Head Office
  • Linden Vleihuis
  • Solid Green Offices

The second part of the presentation covered the Living Building Challenge. As one of the most stringent building certification tools in the world, the Challenge take a holistic approach that includes considerations around equity, beauty and health.

Rather than a checklist, the building is evaluated on outcomes and performance. The evaluation criteria are based on the qualities of a flower. While being rooted in place, the building must harvest all its own energy and water, be adapted to climate and site, operate pollution free, comprise of integrated systems, and be beautiful. The Challenge criteria are presented as seven ‘petals’: Place, Water, Energy, Heath & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.

A regenerative future for people and planet can only happen with the full commitment of individuals, communities and nations. The CPD Roadshow was key to helping us spread this message.

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