Green Building Council Namibia – 2014 Annual Convention

Please note: GBCNA Annual Convention 16th-18th of July 2014 Venue: Ministry of Mines & Energy

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Green Building Council of Namibia & WHAT IT MEANS FOR NAMIBIA

Sustainable development is defined as: “development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.” As the world is moving closer to an all-encompassing pursuit of sustainability, the construction industry is not being left behind. In Namibia, large corporate clients and international funding agencies are beginning to insist on good environmental performance as a prerequisite for their projects.

Hitherto, the attempt at environmentally sustainable or “green” buildings have been rather a hit and miss affair, with the results dependent on the individual building owner or design consultant’s commitment to and knowledge of green issues. So-called “green” buildings have had as little as a few solar water heaters or as much as the full gamut of renewable energies to justify their claims to sustainability. This leaves the public in confusion as to the meaning of “green building” and has an adverse impact on the environment itself.

However, the formation of the Green Building Council of Namibia (GBCNA) offers a solution to this conundrum. Modeled on national Green Building Councils elsewhere, the GBCNA has reached the stage of Prospective Member on its way to full recognition as Emerging Member of the World Green Building Council. It has been registered as a Trust with a Board of Trustees and has opened its own bank account.

Operating an independent certification programe for green buildings (Green Star SA) as one of its primary activities, the Green Building Council offers clients, consultant teams and construction companies alike the opportunity to pursue and assess the overall environmental impact of their projects without subjective influences. Something we found is that in the early days we represented the GBCSA and the certification of buildings almost as one and the same thing. Now however we are looking to do a lot more as a GBC than just certify buildings and it may have be easier to allow for this later if you put forward the certification arm as one of the offerings of the GBC as opposed to its only / primary function.

The Green Star SA rating system is in the process of being adapted to the Namibian context based from the rating system operated by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

A project is evaluated through all stages: right from Design through to As-Built, according to the relevant Green Star rating tool (e.g. for “office”, “retail” or “public and education”, etc.). The Design stage submission must be done at tender stage and the As-Built within two years of Practical Completion.

Two qualified independent assessors (who remain incognito), do the assessment, supported by a panel of experts. Namibian assessments will initially be done by two international and two trainee Namibian assessors, until the GBCNA has reached capacity in terms of skills and numbers of assessors.

In order to apply for a Green Star certification, the consultant team must complete a considerable dossier of information based on the technical documentation of the building. This may seem daunting, but the application process in itself has a valuable educational role in terms of high-lighting various strategies for achieving environmental sustainability. After completing one application in this way, designing and constructing green buildings become much easier.

It must be emphasized that Green Star certification is not biased towards either alternative construction methods such as earth building, nor towards high-technology solutions such as photo-voltaic. It allows for a broad spectrum of interventions, with the emphasis on quantitative evaluation – in other words, measurement of performance. Vague claims as to “greenness” will largely become a thing of the past, with the result a clearer and more holistic demand for sustainability.

The objectives of Green Star SA tools are to:
• Establish a common language and standard of measurement for green buildings.
• Promote integrated, whole-building design.
• Raise awareness of the benefits of green building.
• Recognize environmental leadership.
• Reduce the environmental impact of development.

A four star rating is given for a 45 to 59% weighted score is equated with Best Practice. Country Excellence is shown by a five star rating on a score of60 to 74%. The very difficult to attain six stars, based on a 75 to 100% score, indicates World Leadership. This offers the Namibian industry a yardstick to compare against the rest of the world.

9 Aspects that are assessed include:
• Management
• Indoor Environment Quality
• Energy
• Transport
• Water
• Materials
• Land Use & Ecology
• Emissions
• Innovation

Green Star application also does not rely solely on the Principal Agent of the consultant team, but needs commitment and input from all – building owners, consultants, contractors & service providers. Electrical-Mechanical engineers in particular must be able to provide modeling of various aspects and if Design and Supply services (such as for solar) are involved, these suppliers also need to provide detailed information. As a result, the process requires considerable interaction and a close working relationship between all parties involved. This can only have a positive impact on the Namibian construction industry and result in better value for owners.

Owners as well, have to commit added time and funds to the process, as consultants must be paid for their supplementary services in preparing the applications. This is not as far-fetched as it seems, as has been proven the case in other countries and now by FNB in their commitment to a Green Star Design application for their new flagship building to be erected in the center of Windhoek. Owners perforce will thus become better educated about construction issues as a whole and have to be specific in their requirements for “green” building.

The Council itself is an independent non-profit trust funded by membership fees and income from training programes and assessments. Start-up funding to date has been provided by the UNDP via NEEP (Namibia Energy Efficiency Project) and the EIF (Environmental Investment Fund), with the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI) at the Polytechnic of Namibia acting as interim secretariat.

Membership will be in four different categories, with each accorded different privileges according to the category. Membership offer supporters benefits such as advertising rights, the right to proclaim their membership on their company letterhead, website, etc.
• Platinum
• Gold
• Silver
• Copper

An Associated Working Group (AWG) spearheaded the formation and launch of the GBCNA. The group consists of representatives from the various sectors listed as below:
• the private sector (engineers, architects, urban planners, solar industry)
• the financial sector (banks)
• the civic sector (UNDP, REEEI)
• government (Ministries of Works & Transport, Mines and Energy)
• Education (UNam and Polytechnic).

The GBCNA will have a potentially transforming effect on the Namibian Construction Market, as it has already been shown in Australia, South Africa and other countries.

Among other visible changes in the construction industry resulting from GreenStar schemes elsewhere, have been in the availability of sustainable construction materials. For example, ten years ago no paint manufacturers in Southern Africa supplied VOC-free paints. Now almost all of them do and are changing their standard ranges to VOC free.

Sustainability is becoming mainstream. Suppliers, contractors, architects and other building professionals cannot afford to lag behind. The Green Building Council of Namibia offers us a way of achieving that goal faster and better.

Further information on the GBCNA can be obtained from:

GBCNA Honorary Secretary
REEEI Polytechnic
Tel.: +264 61 207 2011/2154
Cell: +264 81 1245298/+264 81 1600005
nhamunghete[at]polytechnic.edu.na

Website with related information:
fb: www.facebook.com/gbcna
www.worldqbc.org
www.gbcsa.org.za

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