Five internationally acclaimed leaders on sustainability will headline this year’s trailblazing Green Building Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 to 28 July 2016.
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) hosts the event and CEO Brian Wilkinson says the keynote speakers – Dr Ian McCallum, John Elkington, Paul Clements-Hunt, Mario Molina, Jeff Speck, Terri Wills and Evan Rice, will share their unique expertise to guide Africa and the world towards a thriving future for all.
“We know time is not on our side. Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action. Small steps won’t get us where we need to go. Now is the time for bold leadership focused on purpose and on collaborative communities and cities, and it’s time for innovative and disruptive technology. We have to unite with one common purpose – to build a better world now, so we have chosen this as the theme for the 2016 convention,” says Wilkinson.
John Elkington is a writer of over 30 ground-breaking books, including The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier. Known as an ‘advisor from the future’, Elkington works with large corporations, the finance and investment community, industry bodies, media, academia, government, innovators and entrepreneurs across the globe. He has been described as a true green business guru and a dean of the corporate responsibility movement.
Dr Ian McCallum is a medical doctor, analytical psychologist, psychiatrist and former Springbok. McCallum is a specialist wilderness guide, an author and poet as well as a director of the Wilderness Foundation. His award-winning book, Ecological Intelligence, Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, addresses the interconnectedness of all living things and ultimately, the survival of the human animal.
Paul Clements-Hunt is former head of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and a founding board member of the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, an initiative supported by more than 1 000 of the world’s largest institutional investors. Clements-Hunt has worked across business, investment, international affairs and the media to promote sustainable finance and responsible investment.
Jeff Speck is an urban designer and author who advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design, Speck was the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts. As the overseer of the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, he has helped many American mayors overcome pressing city planning challenges. Speck has dedicated his career to determining the one key factor which makes cities thrive – walkability.
Mario Molina is responsible for the design, strategic goals and engagement programmes for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in the USA and abroad. Molina joined the Climate Reality Project in 2013 and has spearheaded training for over 4,000 leaders around the world. His expertise in international climate policy and strategy drives the Leadership Corps with data-driven engagement across multiple sectors.
Evan Rice is Business Development Manager for Tesla Energy, South Africa. Over the past decade he has been active in energy across both the public and private sectors. Most recently he headed up GreenCape, an agency set up to support the accelerated development of an investment in the renewable energy and clean tech sectors in South Africa.
Terri Wills is CEO of the World Green Building Council, an organisation uniting 100 Green Building Councils. She previously headed the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change and served as the London City Director for the Clinton Climate Initiative.
It is these inspiring green luminaries that Green Building Convention delegates can look forward to gaining insights from and interacting with.
“In their experience and ideas lie the solutions; some outrageous and some extremely simple, but all revolutionary in their power to affect positive change and build a better world now. There is no better platform than this convention to network and engage with these change agents,” says Wilkinson.
These keynote speakers, and others on the compelling programme of the country’s top green gathering, will tackle topics that South Africans have proven they care deeply about. South African green building is driven by an acknowledgement that green building is the right thing to do, rather than by regulations, according to new research published in World Green Building Trends 2016.
The report also predicts that South Africa could be a leader in the global green market in the next three years.
“It’s a clear sign that green building practices are gaining significant momentum in South Africa, along with an acknowledgment that Green Star-certified projects are not only world-class and innovative, but benefit people, the planet and profits,” says Wilkinson.
Even with these remarkable achievements, the GBCSA is unstoppable in pursuing its ambitious targets.
At the United Nations’ COP21 in Paris, in December 2015, the GBCSA announced its commitment to introduce a net zero/positive building certification scheme by 2020. It also set itself challenging green goals to grow its number of certifications and accredited professionals, expand its training reach and grow fledgling green building councils across Africa.
The annual Green Building Convention has become a powerful platform for the country’s and the continent’s green building movement.
The City of Cape Town and Johannesburg have been named international winners for climate action at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).
The City of Cape Town was presented with the C40 Cities Award for “Adaptation Implementation”, recognising the City’s Water Conservation and Demand Management (WCWDM) Programme, while Johannesburg was the winner in the Finance and Development category for its Green Bond initiative.
The two cities were Africa’s only winners. The C40 Cities Awards spans 10 categories, all recognising cities demonstrating “climate action leadership”, this according the awards’ website.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille was at the awards ceremony in Paris to accept the accolade on behalf of the city, and said: “We are extremely proud of the City’s WCWDM programme which has been instrumental in establishing Cape Town as a national leader in reducing water demand and losses.
“I was greatly honoured to receive this award on behalf of all residents of Cape Town who have worked with us to reduce water demand and implement water conservation measures,” she said.
The WCWDM programme began in 2007 and focuses on water conservation and water demand management, aiming to minimise water waste and promoting the efficient use of water. It includes raising public awareness, free of charge plumbing repairs for low-income households, and the training of “community plumbers”.
Johannesburg’s award-winning Green Bond is a funding model for green projects which previously did not have any financing and could thus not be implemented.
The other categories awarded on the night included Carbon Measurement and Planning, Adaptation Planning and Assessment, Building Energy Efficiency, Green Energy, Solid Waste, Smart Cities and Smart Community Engagement, Sustainable Communities, and Transportation.
The jury included representatives from World Bank, Bloomberg Associates, World Wildlife Fund Canada, and the University of Cape Town.
The latest news from Paris is cautiously optimistic that we will have an agreement by Friday. What does it mean for agriculture and food security? Although the French government has shown great leadership championing agriculture at COP21, it is not yet really on the table for the negotiators.
The good (and surprising) news comes from the commitments the countries have submitted. A recent CGIAR analysis of the first 150 country climate commitments (INDCs) submitted ahead of the UN climate talks revealed that countries appear to prioritize agriculture more than the negotiations have. 80% of commitments included agriculture in mitigation targets, and 64% included agriculture in adaptation strategies. Willingness to address agriculture and food security finally appears to be having some impact.
As Tim Grooser, Climate Minister of New Zealand put it: “After many years of banging my head on a brick wall, trying to get attention for agriculture in UNFCCC, we are finally being heard”. While this is unlikely to have a big impact on the result in Paris on Friday – it paves the way for more progress to be made in Marrakech at COP22, next year, via scientific (SBSTA) meetings held in Bonn in June 2016.
4 pour mille – solutions in soil
One of the most promising new ideas at the Paris climate talks so far, is the French government’s “4 pour mille” initiative. The name 4 pour mille (or 0.4%) refers to the annual increase in soil carbon, which would offset atmospheric carbon emissions. As the carbon reservoir in the soil is two to three times larger than all the carbon in the atmosphere, the initiative focuses attention on the huge potential agriculture has to become a critical part of climate change solutions. Agriculture and forestry alone can capture carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and sequester it in the soil.
Increasing soil carbon not only mitigates climate change, it also increases – or restores – soil health and fertility, thereby helping agriculture to adapt to climate change and improve environmental health overall. Yields will go up, farms will be more resilient, and emissions will be reduced as a co-benefit.
The private sector has made commitments in Paris aswell. A coalition of companies joined together under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to focus on low carbon agriculture solutions. Monsanto has announced that its operations will be carbon neutral by 2021, in just 5 years. John Bryant, the CEO of Kelloggs, went a step further in Paris by not only committing to carbon neutrality for its own operations, but also to work with farmers in its supply chains to make half a million farmers climate smart.
A proposal for the developing world
In Paris CGIAR announced a $225 million proposal that would take climate smart agriculture and 4 pour mille to seven developing countries: Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Nepal and Colombia. Farmers will co-develop and share widely climate-smart interventions that boost the levels of carbon captured in soils, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and improved forage systems. In those seven countries we estimate that farmers would be able to improve their agricultural yields by 20% and offset greenhouse gas emissions by 15% or 25 megatonnes of CO2e.
This will contribute to CGIAR’s own commitments to work, with partners, to reduce agriculture related emissions by 0.8 Gigaton, or 15%, by 2030, restore 190 million hectares of degraded land, save 7.5 million ha of forest from deforestation, and increase water and nutrient efficiency by 20%.
The climate summit in Paris has shown that global big business is now also on board with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
However, the most promising instruments in finance for promoting green investing, particularly green bonds, have been around for almost a decade now, starting with the European Investment Bank (EIB) Climate Awareness Bond in 2007.
Why haven’t green bonds entered the mainstream of finance, and what is holding them back?
To be clear, the rise of green bonds has been dramatic: whereas issuances amounted to only US$4 billion in 2010, they were nearly ten times that amount by 2014, representing US$37 billion in new issuance volume. However, green bonds haven’t yet achieved a critical mass because their growth stems from a small base, given that global fixed income constitutes US$80 trillion in outstanding value.
An important factor constraining the wider proliferation of green bonds is the fact that their issuance is still relegated to a few large players. The largest emitters of green bonds remain the large multilateral development institutions which collectively accounted for almost half (44%) of new issuances in 2014, while the corporate sector accounted for another one-third of the total.
The World Bank alone has conducted 100 green bond transactions in 18 different currencies that cumulatively represent more than US$8.5 billion.
Having such a concentrated base of issuers is insufficient for a wider introduction of green financial instruments, and new institutional players, particularly private sector entrants, are required to enlarge the green bond market.
Looking back, an overarching reason for limited private sector participation in green bonds was that “green credentials” were less important in past corporate cultures. However, with the cultural shift taking place as seen at COP21, more entities are expected to “green-up” their business models.
It is important to note that, because green bonds are properly certified as climate-friendly financial instruments, they only represent a portion of a larger, more loosely defined “climate-aligned” bond market.
The green bond market also suffers from a lack of project diversity. For the broader “climate-aligned bond market” that includes green bonds, the two largest segments are transport (nearly 70%) and energy (another 20%), but transport is almost entirely rail networks backed by state entities. Only 10% of the “climate-aligned” market covers the remaining construction, agriculture, waste management, and water categories.
It is heartening to see that developing countries have taken the lead in issuing “climate-aligned” securities (not necessarily certified as green bonds), with China alone accounting for 33% (US$164 billion) of the climate-aligned issuances. India (US$15 billion), Brazil (US$3 billion), and South Africa (US$1 billion) are also among the emerging markets engaging in the climate-aligned capital raising process.
In Australia, the scope for green bond issuances is extremely promising, but in the context of the overall Australian A$1.5 trillion bond market, green bonds still reflect a minute portion of the issuances, and the country has generally lagged behind in its adoption. This is partly due to regulatory uncertainty and political hostility. However, there’s actually a strong interest in green bonds in Australia, as the 2015 green bond issuance of A$600 million by ANZ bank and this South Australian A$200 million wind farm project evidently show.
In fact, most of the major Australian banks, including NAB, Westpac, andANZ are dipping their toes in the space. To facilitate stronger growth in Australia, however, non-bank financial institutions will also need to be part of the equation, which is why it is encouraging that sectors such as the property market are turning to green bond vehicles for raising capital.
The outlook on market volume growth for green bonds is overwhelmingly positive. Some forecasts are suggesting the green bond market will treble again this year as it did in 2014, touching US$100 billion. Given the growth and engagement on the “greening” of finance, green finance could soon become mainstream.
Water management is essential to maximizing the resources that we have. But water management demands a lot of energy. Energy costs money and increases the greenhouse-gas emissions. Water- and wastewater-treatment facilities are normally the single-largest electricity consumer for a municipality. Typically water- and wastewater-treatment processes account for 25-40% of the municipality’s electricity bill — energy that can be saved and money that can be freed up and put to better use elsewhere. The answer lies in understanding that the technology and knowledge is available to make water-management systems energy neutral.
So why is water and wastewater management so energy intensive? The high consumption is related to the energy-intensive processes but also its continuous-operation cycle, 24/7 and 365 days annually. When clean water is distributed to consumers, it is pumped through the pipework at high pressure. The pressure corresponds to the pressure needed at the furthest end or highest altitude of the system. If the system is not divided into sections, the initial pressure has to be very high. The high pressure strains the pipes to the extent that the United Nations highlights that leakage rates of 50% are not uncommon in urban-distribution systems. Here we are talking fresh water — one of the scarcest resources we have, just pouring into the ground!
Once utilized, the water, now wastewater, is pumped through a separate piping system from the consumer to the treatment facility. Here is it treated, and the cleaned water re-entered into the natural-water cycle. All this pumping and treatment requires energy. However, it is possible to reduce energy consumption, maximize energy production, manage leakages and reduce maintenance and replacement of pipes. It is possible to the extent that the whole system can become energy neutral.
By managing the pressure in the drinking-water pipework by dividing it into sections that are individually controlled, leakages can typically be reduced by 30-40%. This is achieved by using technologies like Danfoss variable-frequency drives to control the pressure in the pipes. This not only saves precious drinking water, but also saves energy.
In Aarhus Water Ltd, we supply water and purify wastewater from more than 300,000 customers in the Danish city of Aarhus. We have transformed the Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plant from an energy consumer to an energy provider. In traditional wastewater-treatment plants, the energy that is produced is nowhere near enough to actually run a wastewater-treatment plant. But here in Aarhus it is. The plant is now in fact a power station — a bio refinery where energy is produced from wastewater. Good news for our local budgets but also for an increasingly energy-hungry world.
Production of energy from wastewater is no new invention. However, it’s new that a wastewater-treatment plant can produce as much as 192% energy — based on normal household wastewater. Hopefully this ceases to be a novelty. Because scaled up, it means that the huge energy consumption from water and wastewater facilities could be avoided, turning the single-largest electricity consumer in municipalities into an energy-neutral party.
The 192% comes from combining:
· 130% electricity production (30% excess electricity)
· Excess heat production of about 2.5 GWh/year (used in local district-heating system)
The wastewater-treatment plant now produces enough energy to cover 94% of all the energy used for the whole water cycle, from water production, water distribution over wastewater pumping to wastewater treatment in the 200,000-persons catchment area.
In the very near future, the expectation is to get above 100% and so have made this highly energy consuming industry completely energy neutral.
Naturally this has grabbed the attention of many around the world, and we in Aarhus Water are pleased to share. As an example we are working with a delegation from Chicago to achieve similar results in their city. The hope is that many more will follow, because lack of water and climate change are among the top three global risks, according to the World Economic Forum. Energy scarcity is a global challenge we have yet to solve. However, pioneering solutions that can help meet these challenges are ready to be replicated.
This post is part of a “Nordic Solutions” series produced by The Huffington Post, in conjunction with the U.N.’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11), aka the climate-change conference. The series will put a spotlight on climate solutions from the five Nordic countries, and is part of our What’s Workingeditorial initiative. To view the entire series, visit here.
While the COP21 talks run their course, we’re looking to where the real climate action is. In the Paris beyond the summit, people, collectives and businesses aren’t just talking – they’re taking action for a cleaner, carbonless future.
You don’t need loads of cash to stay in decent, carbon-light digs in the French capital
From lowly budget hostels to dazzling palace hotels, Paris, of course, is bursting at the seams with places to stay. Still, with the rise of AirBnB, hotels of every stripe have had to find new ways to stand out. Though there aren’t too many of them just yet, green hotels in Paris are having a bit of a moment. And a few have taken a completely environment-first approach, offering sustainable options via organic menus, recycling programs and other green-forward features angled at the growing swell of climate-aware consumers looking for a more sustainable stay-over. Here are four of our favourites…
1. Hotel Gavarni
A short walk from the Eiffel Tower, the charming Hotel Gavarni is the first hotel in Paris to receive the European Ecolabel. For tourists, most green efforts – including eco-brand detergents, sustainable electricity and efficient heating – go unseen. More visible are signs in rooms that encourage green practices, such as reusing towels and linens; at the reception desk, taxi schedules are posted to encourage carpooling.
Meanwhile, hotel employees are reimbursed for biking and using public transport to get to work. In fact, this hotel is totally carbon neutral – so just about as green as it possibly gets in Paris.
2. Solar Hotel
Carbon-light travellers will feel at home in one of the Solar Hotel’s 22 simple rooms nestled down by the Catacombs, south of Luxembourg Gardens. From cleaning products and recycled materials to water collection for plants and solar panels, this place has it covered – and as green hotels in Paris go, it’s at the cheaper end of the scale.
In fact, it’s hard to make a move here without bumping into something encouraging responsible travel, be it recycling or opting to get around on one of the hotel’s free bicycles. An organic breakfast, made from local, sustainably produced products, is included in the price. Bargain.
3. Yves Robert Youth Hostel
One of the city’s most sustainable green hostels, this place proves that, even on a budget, travellers can be green. Solar panels covering 3,500 square meters of the roof provide all the energy needed for the 103 rooms. Guests can hang around an organic garden nurtured by collected rainwater and natural compost.
Even better, the hostel is part of a designated ‘eco-quarter’ in the city, conveniently located next to two major train stations and the much-loved Montmartre district. A good nook, then, to meet like-minded ethical travellers.
4. Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet’s
This luxury hotel just off the Champs Elysées makes sustainability look elegant and refined, right down to their ‘eco-citizen’ champagne offering care of Pommery. It’s not just the bubbly, though: in addition to its energy-saving LED lights, the hotel boasts a hybrid taxi service, as well as organic food, sustainably produced towels and bathrobes and a hugely comprehensive recycling program.
Bills are presented on iPads to cut down on paper waste. But the kicker is they even produce their own organic honey up on the roof. How’s that for environmental dedication?
Canadian Solar CEO and Global Solar Council board member Shawn Qu says solar can only tackle climate change effectively if there is global commitment to free trade.
The COP21 UN Climate Change Summit in Paris saw the launch today of the world’s first dedicated and unified body for the solar industry, the Global Solar Council (GSC).
Amid a backdrop of slow but encouraging progress on climate change at the wider COP21 summit, the GSC launched with a clear message from one of its board members: collaboration and the removal of trade barriers is key if solar is to fulfill its promise of changing the earth’s energy landscape.
Among the speakers at the launch of the GSC was Canadian Solar CEO Shawn Qu, who said that he believes that the GSC’s two chief goals should be ending the use of kerosene lamps worldwide by 2025, and pushing to remove all solar trade barriers globally by 2020.
Qu is a Global Solar Council board member and while he does not speak directly on behalf of the Council, he and Canadian Solar have specifically singled out tackling kerosene use for lighting as a worthy early target for the organization. The CEO is also personally championing the removal of solar tariffs from within the Council.
“Every country that participates in solar has its own strength,” Qu said. “Some, like Germany and Switzerland, are skilled in making the machinery required; others are good at production and distribution, and some regions are great at system integration.
“Only with the free flow of products, technology and expertise – unhindered by trade barriers – can solar continue to reduce costs and play its role in the fight against climate change.”
Qu called on governments to work with the GSC (which includes 17 solar associations from around the world, including Solar Power Europe, SEIA, MESIA and Germany’s BSW) to remove all trade barriers within five years, stating that the only way to tackle climate change is for the world to agree on a global commitment to free trade.
The GSC was launched just days after it was confirmed that the European Commission (EC) would be extending solar dumping duties and the minimum import price (MIP) on solar modules imported into Europe for at least 15 months.
Alliance the overall message
Inaugural GSC chairman Bruce Douglas revealed that the GSC hopes to work with the Modi-backed International Solar Alliance to spearhead the movement to make solar power “the principle source of electricity generation globally”, and that message was underlined by the signing of an MoU between the GSC and the Terrawatt Initiative – a program aimed at meeting the International Solar Alliance’s objective of adding 1 TW of solar capacity globally by 2030.
Also present at the launch was Bertrand Piccard, co-founder and pilot of the Solar Impulse aircraft, which is currently halfway through a round-the-world solar flight. Piccard acknowledged that the attendant audience was “100% pro-solar”, and urged: “Your job begins when this conference finishes. You have to get out there and spread this message that solar power is ready to change the world.”
John Smirnow, the GSC secretary-general, had a similar message in his opening address. “Solar has arrived!” he said. “The goal now is to encourage the wide-scale adoption of solar energy through cooperation, education and training.”
Speaking to pv magazine at the launch, GSC co-chairman Gianni Chianetta said that such a global alliance has been eight years in the making, and the looming COP21 summit gave the GSC the push it needed to launch.
“The first goal of the GSC is to bring the value of solar energy to a wider audience, and to make solar a leader in the energy mix, more quickly than the pace we have seen so far.
“Solar is the most democratic energy source. And it is important that solar speaks with a global voice because we need to have a common vision, worldwide.
“The target of solar is not only to reduce the use of fossil fuels, but to increase the use of solar in other complementary sectors, such as transportation, desalination, etc,” Chianetta added. “This means working with all of the big organizations that are aligned with our target, particularly in storage, which is a very important sector for the solar industry.”
The GSC launch took place alongside the IRENA RE-Energizing the Future Conference, a side event of COP21 that sought to address what more governments and big business can do in helping to nurture further innovation and investment in renewable energy worldwide.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. But it’s not superman either. COP21 in Paris is set to have a more unlikely hero: green building.
If you think that’s a rather bold way to begin a blog, the facts speak for themselves. Buildings – and mostly the world’s old, energy guzzling and inefficient ones – currently account for around one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. They also place pressure on the world’s valuable resources – an astounding 40 per cent of global resources and 25 per cent of global water are used in buildings according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
But by the same token, green buildings – ones which have limited, zero, or, in some cases, positive impacts on the environment – can relieve this burden on resources and significantly reduce emissions.
84 gigatonnes of CO2. That’s the figure that the World Green Building Council and the International Energy Agency have projected must be reduced by 2050 if the sector is to play its part in limiting global warming to 2 degrees. To put that into context, it’s the equivalent of not building 22,000 coal powered power stations by the middle of this century.
It’s an enormous challenge, but this large-scale reduction of emissions is absolutely possible. It will take transformative action and collaboration, something that will be shown on an unprecedented scale tomorrow.
On Thursday, politicians, business leaders and NGOs will meet in Paris for the official COP21 Buildings Day – the first of its kind at any UN climate change negotiations – to set out how the buildings and construction sector can play their part in steering the world from the brink of dangerous global warming.
Initiated by the WorldGBC, France and other partners, it is being championed by Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of Ecology and former presidential candidate. Ms Royal, together with the likes of the global CEO of French product manufacturer Saint-Gobain, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Climate within the Obama Administration and the Mayor of Sydney, will make the case to countries that green building is one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change.
They will tell the world how green buildings create major economic opportunities, such as a projected 3.3 million US jobs by 2018 – more than one third of the entire US construction sector.
They will highlight how green buildings are better for people’s health, wellbeing and productivity – such as the estimated productivity improvements of up to 11 per cent from green features such as improved indoor air quality.
But perhaps most importantly, they will show how green buildings represent one of the best ways for countries to meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). At least 40 countries have specifically referred to the buildings sector as one of the means by which they can achieve their INDCs. And Buildings Day will also see the launch of a new alliance of more than 100 countries, cities and organisations – including WorldGBC and its network of 74 Green Building Councils – that will publicly commit to supporting countries to meet these targets through green building.
National Green Building Councils are also playing their part within their own countries – driving transformative action on the ground in a variety of ways. The Indian Green Building Council has, for example, committed to facilitate almost 1 million square metres of registered green building and to help the Indian Government meet its INDC through green building policies. In Australia, Canada and South Africa, the Green Building Councils have committed to introduce Net Zero certification schemes for buildings with no net annual carbon emissions, which will be critical in highlighting building assets that are at a reduced risk of exposure to the effects of our changing climate.
So when you look to the sky for something that might solve our climate crisis, you might not see a flickering cape or bat-shaped sign, but you will see a green building. With the potential to reduce global emissions by up to a third, that’s an achievement worthy of a superhero.