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According to the latest findings of the World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report, the emergent green building movement has indicated an increase in the percentage of industry respondents who expect to build their projects green – a jump from 27% in 2018 to almost half by 2021 (47%).

The report is based on a global survey of more than 2,000 industry participants including architects, engineers, contractors, owners, specialists/consultants and investors from 86 countries and its main objective is to analyse the level of green activity in the sector.

“Over the past eleven years, Green Building Council South Africa has been on a sustainability journey to advance green building for the transformation of the South African built environment and construction sectors. It is pleasing to note that the sector has made noticeable inroads with the 400 certifications mark having been reached in September this year,” said Dorah Modise, chief executive officer at Green Building Council South Africa.

The top challenge reported by the South African sample was the higher (real or perceived) first costs – a percentage lower than the global average of 49%.

Included in the research sample group were a total of 45 Green Building Councils (GBCs), from nineteen countries that spanned over six continents, who all demonstrated substantial growth in the expected number of green building projects to be certified.

Green building activity

“What makes the report even more intriguing from a South African context is the fact that within three years the South African industry anticipates that we will have a much higher level of green building activity and this is driven by the desire for lower operating costs and healthier buildings in the marketplace,” delights Modise.

According to the report, the business benefits of building green includes an 8% operating cost savings in the first year and an increased building asset values of 7%, which are clearly influencing all those who do green building to deepen their engagement with green.

In addition to the business benefits reported, social impacts are also increasing in their influence on the respondents as a major reason to build green. Read more: Mon Tresor Smart City scores first Green Star rating

“It is a no brainer that building green is no longer a lofty ideal in South Africa and the rest of the world, but can now be valued beyond the significant environmental benefits to include social benefits such as increased employee productivity and satisfaction,” concludes Modise.

Other key findings include:

  • Globally, rating systems are being used to make better buildings. The research found certification systems are being used to create better performing buildings, yielding marketing and competitive advantages and, providing third party verification that buildings are green.
  • While there has been strong growth in green building projects that are certified under a recognised green building rating system, there has been even stronger growth in green building projects that are not certified.
  • Climate change remains a driver for green building, with 77% of the respondents listing lowering greenhouse gas emissions as an important reason for their organisation to be engaged in green building. In every region the most important environmental reason for green building was reduced energy consumption, which is closely linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Regulation is driving the take up of green building in South Asia, MENA and South East Asia, while client demand is a key driver among a number of countries with Established GBCs – Australia, North America and Western Europe. Environmental regulation is the strongest driver in the UK and Ireland.
  • Overall, the barriers to green building have declined over time although cost is still a concern.  The research showed that as part of the business case for green building, industry expects an increase in savings in operational costs within five years.
  • The social benefits of green building have been growing as a driver, particularly occupant health and wellbeing, which reflects the importance of people in the built environment.
  • Commercial construction remains the strongest sector for green building, however new high-rise residential building has also seen increases in green projects since 2015.

Download the full report here