/ 5 April 2024

Minister Kubayi calls for climate-resilient building practices

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. (Jeffrey Abrahams)
Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. (Jeffrey Abrahams)

The built environment industry – man-made structures that people use in everyday life – has to change how it operates to adapt to the effects of climate change, says Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi.

Addressing an Indaba at the black business council in the built environment on Friday, Kubayi said changing how the industry builds will contribute to lowering carbon emissions in the country.

South Africa is widely known as the highest carbon emitter on the continent. Kubayi said the built environment could play a role in reducing emissions. “The products that we use currently are said to be high in emissions and therefore they need to contribute to the reduction of emissions,” she said.

Kubayi said it was important for the industry to swiftly move to innovative building techniques that are resistant to climate change while remaining affordable for more vulnerable communities.

“We are seeing that the storms are becoming more aggressive and when brick and mortar falls on people it kills them at times. We can’t run away from the fact that we are going to have to create innovative building techniques to respond to the future in terms of climate-resilient build,” she said.

Kubayi added that the built environment industry is also responsible for prioritising sustainable practices throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings. This includes sourcing materials responsibly, reducing waste during construction, and implementing energy-efficient designs to minimise ongoing environmental impact.

She said black business leaders must address the concerns brought about by climate change to have innovative ways to help disadvantaged communities who become affected by climate-related weather incidents to rebuild their homes sustainably.

“Now the question I always ask is, are we ready for this move? Because if we are not positioning ourselves for that, we will be left behind. Failure to do this means those who come from previously disadvantaged communities are going to be left behind,” she said.

Kubayi emphasised the importance of collaboration between the government, industry players and local communities to develop holistic solutions that address environmental and social challenges. 

She said the industry must consider using fire-resistant painting in areas that are prone to wildfires like the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, and be ready for the change that is coming to the industry.

She added that the market needed more suppliers who would be available to provide builders with materials. “There is currently a shortage of suppliers in the market which also affects the delivery of houses being rebuilt after climate disasters,” she said.

To address the shortage, Kubayi said the government would foster collaboration between the private and public sectors in the housing domain, which will be supported by forthcoming policy frameworks set to be implemented in the sector.

These collaborations would assist in the swift rebuilding of houses and placement of people who have been left homeless by climate-related disasters. 

Kubayi said the initiatives will involve a revision from the national treasury which will ensure a more efficient process for private entities to work on partnerships with the government when it comes to human settlements and homes.

She said the upcoming public procurement bill would prioritise localisation, outline transformation objectives, and underscore the importance of regulatory compliance in the housing sector. 

“The human settlements White Paper will prompt revisions to the housing code and other relevant legislation pertaining to human settlements,” she said.