The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), in conjunction with the World Green Building Council (WGBC), has announced the development of a new framework and rating tool category designed exclusively for the distinctive features of green buildings in developing countries.
Once completed, the Social and Economic Development framework and category will feature an innovative set of benchmarks that, when applied primarily to the design and construction of green buildings in developing countries, address societal challenges such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, lack of education and skills, as well as poor health.
“By expanding the focus of green buildings to include broader socio- economic impacts, the GBCSA and the WGBC hope to strengthen the relevance of a Green Star-rated building in the context of development priorities in South Africa and internationally,” explains GBCSA executive chairperson and WGBC vice-chairperson Bruce Kerswill.
Historically, most green building rating systems have focused exclusively on environmental impacts, but an increasing interest in the inclusion of social and economic impacts – particularly in developing countries that have to address issues of meeting fundamental needs – has driven the design of a tailored rating system.
The tool will measure the concept of sustainability across three factors – social, economic and environmental.
“The socioeconomic framework will concentrate on these factors as the principal challenges in developing countries and which can most readily be measured and included in rating tools,” explains GBCSA project manager Sarah Rushmere.
Once the international framework has been created, a prototype socioeconomic category will initially be developed, specifically for Green Star South Africa (GSSA), but will also be adaptable to other leading international green building rating tools.
“This category can act as a standalone or as an additional component for GSSA and other leading international green building rating tools which are used in developing countries,” Rushmere says.
Building projects will be rewarded for the design and construction phase interventions that improve employment and economic opportunity, education and skills training, equality, community engagement and benefits, as well as health and safety.
“The aim is to make this first socioeconomic category simple and focused on a set of top priority ‘big hit’ factors,” she adds.
The Social and Economic Development category will be the subject of a panel discussion during a breakaway session as part of the fifth annual GBCSA Convention and Exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from October 23 to October 25.