The Green Building Convention 2016, proudly sponsored by Nedbank Corporate and Investment Bank, was held in Johannesburg for the first time late last month. The convention saw more than 50 international and local sustainability leaders inspire built environment professionals to build a better world now.
The convention tracks were carefully curated to showcase three elements that have been identified as essential for building a better world now: bold and visionary leadership; innovative and disruptive technology; and collaborative communities and cities.
An unprecedented 11 international and 40 local thought-leading sustainability experts came together in a creative blend of video, animation and in-person interaction which successfully stimulated awareness, ambition and action to design, build and operate better buildings.
Prominent themes that emerged in the Leadership track were understanding that everything about the world is exponential and how to prepare for the ‘New Normal 2030’; tapping into the DNA of a digital world like brands such as Uber, Google, Whatsapp and Netflix have; developing the special, subtle skills needed to provide bold leadership; and the importance of people, communities and working together to achieve change. Delegates were also treated to the inspirational journey of an everyday company reliant on the oil industry to a sustainability leader; the tale of the world’s best green city hotel, Hotel Verde; and the evolution of Australia from a leader in green building to a leader in buildings that support the health and wellness of their occupants.
The stage was set for the Technology track by various psychology specialists, who gave us insight into the collective psyche of our world today, painting a picture of a population operating on addiction and instant gratification. Two disruptive innovators shared their vision of a vastly different world that taps into this psyche but greatly reduces carbon emissions at the same time.
Delegates learned where the money to fund collaborative and future proof cities and communities will come from; and why the City of Tshwane deserves to be recognised as Africa’s greenest city and is one of just four pilot cities worldwide that have been selected to work with the GBCSA under the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) to double the rate of energy efficiency by 2030; while the mind blowing retrofit of New York’s iconic Empire State Building proved that a building built in 1930 can be ranked in the top 25% of buildings in the US in terms of energy efficiency and showed what city planners and legislators can do with new and existing buildings. Walkability was identified as the missing element of true sustainability; and a new code was proposed for creating sustainable neighbourhoods and the true value of collaboration.
The convention saw a number of innovative newcomers too:
• The introduction of silent conferencing on the Standard Bank Brainwave Stage – an innovation that allows separate breakout group meetings to be held within the same room without disturbing each other. These sessions showcased some incredible technology for construction, from the latest technology in PV panels and modular multi-storey buildings, to sandbag houses that cost a mere R500 per room to build
• The TEDtalk inspired presentations, 7×7, shook things up on the main stage, with each presentation providing a quick, seven minute overview covering fascinating topics ranging from building with hemp to how the natural world can add value and even solutions to many challenges our world faces.
• A host of fascinating and unique tours and workshops, such as a tour of the green buildings of Rosebank on electric bikes; a Corridors of Freedom walking tour through the Braamfontein Precinct; and a masterclass on Collaborative Urban Regeneration.