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Green must be the ‘colour’ of all developments

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Green building entails the implementation of a combination of measures, including using environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials

The water crisis in the Western Cape has highlighted the increased necessity for environmentally friendly living and sustainable building. Those who live in, build, design and finance property must do more for sustainability than just pay it lip service.
Even though many industries are using the term “sustainability” as a marketing tool, architect Richard Stretton says the greatest steps being taken to ensure sustainability are made through legislation, and the implementation of this legislation is the challenge.
“I believe almost all architects understand the fundamentals of sustainability. 
“It is the education of end users, financial institutions and developers that makes the difference.”
Stretton, who is also an adjudicator for the AfriSAM-SAIA Sustainable Architecture & Innovation Awards for 2018, says education in architecture does a lot to promote 
sustainability, but changing human will, including the ego of architects, to understand that sustainability is “more important than their latest idea”, is harder.
“Architecture is now in the realm of global financial structures and buildings are investment devices, not simply habitats for human activity. Notions of sustainability do not always fit with the developer looking for fast and massive returns.”
Stretton acknowledges that some developers are aiming for greener buildings. However, mechanisms limit the assessment of what is green to technology and measurable aspects, thereby overlooking the human aspects.
“This is the next level of understanding we should look to in the way we build.”
Stretton says: “Timber must be the future of the construction industry as the growing process sequesters carbon and it is a renewable resource.
“An understanding of passive design in buildings and use of renewable materials will sort 80% of sustainability issues we deal with in architecture. The remaining 20% is solvable through technology.”
According to the Green Building Council of South Africa, green building entails the implementation of a combination of measures, including using environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials. It also involves using renewable energy sources.
Other measures include:
* Careful building design to reduce heat loads, maximise natural light and promote circulation of fresh air.
* Energy-efficient air-conditioning and lighting.
* Reducing waste and using recycled materials.
* Water-efficient plumbing fittings and water harvesting.
* Sensitivity to the impact of the development on the environment.
The impacts of climate change are now being seen and Dorah Modise, chief executive of the Green Building Council, says water quality, quantity and security of supply will remain a countrywide challenge “for centuries to come”.
Everyone needs to adopt water efficiency measures.
“Some buildings that have been certified are water neutral. We’d like to see a large take-up in this way of designing and operating buildings in South Africa becoming 
the norm.”
*The closing date for entries for this year’s AfriSam-SAIA Awards for Sustainable Architecture & Innovation is the March 24. See



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