Y/OUR SPACE – Green Building Convention 2023

Y/OUR SPACE – Green Building Convention 2023

The annual Green Building Convention was once again held at the Century City Conference Centre. It was the year of Y/OUR SPACE. Here, Elri Syfert shares more about the presentations, parties and vibes.

Every attendee was challenged to think about space – what comes to mind? The Y/OUR concept of space was considered in all parts of the convention. The various talks and discussions delegates could attend as well as the main hall and exhibition spaces all encouraged the meeting of minds to connect and collaborate. A space was created to redefine our thinking around space…

During the opening plenary Lisa Reynolds, CEO of the GBCSA, introduced attendees to the “Step Change”. Green buildings are not only for the elite anymore. If we are planning on meeting the set goals, everyone must embrace the concept of green. Dr Sara Candiracca, Associate Director from Arup, reiterated this concept by stating that we need to find solutions that address different age groups, social climate conditions and genders to create spaces that address specific needs, but at the same time benefit everyone.

Adrie Fourie from Solid Green Consulting presented on the value of places and how to design for sustainable wellbeing, which tied in very well with the theme. According to Adrie, people must be placed at the forefront of design, with focus on the integration of buildings into the urban fabric while delivering places that increase social cohesion. Andre Harms from Ecolution shared a success story with the delegates, Newinbosch, that speaks to this way of design.

Worldwide the focus is on switching to renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. However, with unlimited renewable energy we will consume more, develop more and expedite planetary pressure. In his discussion, John Vlismas from OGO Creative suggested that we are not treating the real problem. We have to listen to the “have lesser”. Their economies are working much more efficiently than ours.

Cebisa Mafukuzela from Solid Green’s presentation continued this discussion. She encouraged the delegates to look within for inspiration, to look at their communities, to look at history and place and use it as a driver to inspire more sustainable design in buildings, not only environmentally but also culturally.

With day zero always on the horizon, we saw water taking the center stage. Water is a precious and essential resource, but in South Africa it has become a source of concern. According to Murendeni Mafumo, CEO and Founder of Kusini Water, the nation’s water issues are multifaceted and require a coordinated effort to ensure a sustainable and equitable supply for all. Furthermore, water should be priced correctly, and overuse should be disincentivised. This will mean mandatory monitoring and reporting to a set standard.

The convention was not all work and no play. Paper and pencils were provided by the GBCSA. Delegates were encouraged to doodle their learnings and pin their sketches up for everyone to see.

Solid Green, together with industry partners, arranged an AP Connect Party for the Wednesday evening. The event provided an excellent opportunity to reconnect, share insights, and foster meaningful connections within our professional community. Attendees were also challenged to find 10 people with the same colour sticker and to take a selfie. This served as an excellent ice breaker!








The Gala Dinner on Thursday evening was sponsored by Balwin Properties. Everyone cleaned up nicely in their white/red attire. The Leadership Awards for 2023 were also presented at the Gala Dinner and Solid Green walked away with a whopping 4 awards.

It was a convention for the books. We were reminded that how we think about and define spaces is important! It has a direct and significant impact on people and nature. Space moves, it builds, it grows, it teaches – it is a transformative part of our everyday lives. It’s through rethinking space that we’re bringing buildings and places to life that redefines the built environment.

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