GBCSA Convention day two roundup

TOP TAKEOUT: The solutions exist. We need to collaborate to scale up and deploy them pronto.

Day two of the Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) green building convention in Cape Town started with keynote presentations, which reinforced the message from keynote speaker Paul Hawken on day one: The solutions to climate change and the built environment challenges faced already exist. They need to be scaled up and deployed with greater urgency.

“We need to transition from innovation to replication,” said Ed Garrod from Elementa Consulting, which has been involved in 100 Net Zero Energy projects.

“One building alone isn’t going to move the needle at all,” said Rob Peña, who was involved with the Bullitt Centre in Seattle, which is known as the greenest commercial building in the world.

With this emphasis on what needs to be done, greater insight into some of the innovations out there were also given, to show exactly how it is being done globally.

Architect James Law from Cybertecture based in Hong Kong focused attention on issues of inclusivity and affordability in cities. He discussed his firm’s innovation known as the Opod and said that not all buildings needed to be built on site, but could be manufactured in high-tech facilities to create plug and play solutions. These could use excess materials and be located in traditionally difficult to construct in places. The option to transport homes by drones was also being investigated to release the burden from road infrastructure.

Law announced that Cybertecture would be undertaking an Opod project in Masiphumelele, near Cape Town and was looking for collaborators also keen to be involved in the project.

James Law from Cybertecture on stage at the GBCSA green building convention, discussing the Opod.

Maria Chiari Pastore from Stefano Boeri Architetti in Italy then took delegates on an in-depth look into vertical forests, particularly the residential tower in Milan, which hosts 800 trees, 4 500 shrubs and 15 000 plants distributed according to the sun exposure of the facade. This complex structure is being replicated all over the world and increased effort is being spent on transitioning from single buildings to entire cities, for example in Cairo. In this regard, the first ever World Forum on Urban Forests will be held in Mantova in November to December 2018.

The Milan vertical forest by Stefano Boeri Architetti.

The breakaway sessions allowed delegates to get more detail on their specific areas of interest. Having to choose a particular stream is always tough for a journalist with FOMO who wants to get insight into everything, but delegates were pleased at the opportunity to get more in-depth information and inspiration in their areas of specialty.

In the Power of Collective Action in the Built Environment breakaway, Dr Barbara Holtmann from Women in Cities International said that for green buildings to become the norm, real partnership and collaboration opportunities would be required. A huge amount of advocacy, inclusive consultation and shared processes could create a cultural shift which would foster more demand for green buildings, which in turn could drive down prices.

The lack of trust between public entities, particularly local government and the private sector was highlighted as a major hurdle in the green building industry. This will need to be overcome with the investment of time into relationships and creative conversations with a capacity for change.

Dr. Barbara Holtmann’s presentation was entitled ‘What it looks like when it’s fixed’.

The Positioning the Business Case for Net Zero New Building Projects session provided great insight into how to make Net Zero projects happen, looking specifically at 78 Corlett drive by Daffonchio Architects and the Linden Vleihuis project by Marc Sherratt Sustainability Architects. Both projects worked with Solid Green as the sustainability consultant.

Chilufya Lombe from Solid Green emphasised that it is almost an unprecedented amount of energy efficiency required for going Net Zero carbon. Having process-driven design is required and more thought on how comfort can be achieved without air-conditioning will be needed if Net Zero is to become standard.

“We want to achieve Net Zero but we don’t want to throw money at it. We have to throw engineering and good design at it rather,” concluded Lombe.

Chilufya Lombe from Solid Green on stage discussing the realities of Net Zero certification in South Africa.

Delegates were given more time to network at the gala dinner in the evening, and the hard-working people and innovative projects turning heads throughout the year were honoured by the GBCSA at the Green Leadership Awards

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