How designing ‘green’ buildings can help to combat the climate crisis

South Africa’s buildings account for 40% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the City of Johannesburg’s new draft green buildings policy aims to change that.

The policy is driving the change to a more sustainable built environment through, for example, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The aim is to achieve low to net zero carbon for all new buildings  by 2030. 

“Buildings have a relatively long lifespan of 40 to 120 years, and the building stock in cities is growing rapidly. Significant opportunities exist for decreasing emissions from buildings through reducing energy demand and then supplying remaining energy demand with energy generated from renewable energy sources, such as rooftop solar panels,” says the report.

Although retrofitting buildings with new technologies, such as efficient lighting, can help to reduce energy demand, the actual design of a building can reduce the number of energy services required. 

The draft policy details how residential development is the biggest contributor to Johannesburg’s carbon emissions and to the annual increase in carbon emissions.


Buildings consume energy and water and are also waste producers. They are essential to tackling service-delivery problems if developed in a way that minimises resource consumption. Buildings whose water and power use do not comply with the regulations will be subject to fines and penalties.

Liana Strydom, the  director of regional planning at the City of Johannesburg, said there is urgency in future-proofing the city’s buildings.  

The policy had been developed in a partnership between Sustainable Energy Africa and Cape Town, Jo’burg, eThekwini and Tshwane. The cities signed the 2018 global net-zero carbon buildings declaration as part of a C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group South Africa Buildings Programme

eThekwini recently had its draft green building policy approved by the council for public comment. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sheree Bega
Sheree Bega is an environment reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

More top stories

Racial bias against black medical practitioners ‘reflects fissures of an...

The testimonials of black doctors have given credence to allegations of racial profiling. Of those listed on a Gems blacklist, 94% of general practitioners were black

Why great white sharks are disappearing from South Africa’s coastline

Government panel blames killer whales for the depleted population of great white sharks, but experts say overfishing is the big culprit that is not being addressed

R100-billion needed to staunch KZN’s water woes

Municipalities have failed to maintain their existing infrastructure for providing residents with water

Niehaus has 48 hours to state why he should not...

The MKMVA spokesperson has been asked to give reasons why he should not be fired from his position at Luthuli House after attacking Jesse Duarte last week
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…