While South Africa continues to move towards a green trend when developing new buildings, the real test of sustainability begins on occupation. If a building is green, but its occupants are not, the trade-off will most likely lead to diluted sustainability results.
According to the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA): “Green building incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and people.
“Green buildings are energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible.”
But what happens when the janitorial staff use harsh chemicals to clean the workspaces, or eco-friendly practices are abandoned within the first year because they’re perceived to be too difficult to maintain?
Adopting green trends in your workplace
GreenTag certified local manufacturer, green cleaning consultant and CEO of Green Worx Cleaning Solutions, John J Coetzee, confirms that green consultants (also known as sustainability consultants) can play an instrumental role in keeping your building and its occupants green, aware of their impact, and worthy of their Green Star SA (or other) green rating.
Firstly, objective green consultants are able to identify hidden areas where sustainability is slipping, and conduct valuable audits.
“The right consultants will help businesses to improve their current sustainability score across the board – looking at all aspects of green, and not just what materials were used to build the building,” confirms Coetzee.
“Something that is often overlooked is the products utilised by the facilities’ management company. Chemicals damage the environment, and when they’re being used to clean an entire building, the effects are exponentially more damaging.
“Consultants should develop sustainable green cleaning programmes – and assist in their implementation. A properly implemented programme consolidates products, procedures and training, and features ongoing assessment.”
Hygienic work conditions
The second reason why green consultants are crucial is that they provide a measurement in terms of the health of your workplace (and your staff).
“Statistics show that 40% of all office workers are concerned that they may fall ill due to poor office hygiene.
“By focussing on maintaining green practices, human health and wellbeing will be positively affected, for both building users and workers,” adds Coetzee.
This positively affects productivity, decreasing downtime and improving the general office morale.
Nurturing the triple bottom line
Lastly, sustainability consulting (if done properly) will ensure that businesses save money and improve their profitability.
By limiting the use of precious resources, and using more effective methods, overheads can be decreased dramatically.
“Every business runs with the objective of making a profit. In the past, South African businesses have viewed sustainability as another expense – but this view is changing. The realisation that green is often more affordable allows businesses to continue making money, without compromising the environment to do so.”
Issued by Perfect Word Consulting with primary input from John J Coetzee, CEO, Green Worx Cleaning Solution
Chemicals and pharmaceuticals company Bayer has joined forces with the Howick-based Future Farmers Foundation to show its support for the Future Farmers initiative. This reinforced Bayer’s commitment to local agricultural development through sustainable food production, skills development and job creation. Participants of the Future Farmers programme would gain real-world experience on local commercial farms for two to five years to ensure that they had a full understanding of what farming entailed. Once ready, trainees were given the opportunity to hone these skills through international mentorship opportunities or to share their knowledge within their communities to transfer skills, boost agricultural productivity and promote a system of sustainable food production.
“Bayer is committed to the development of the agricultural industry in South Africa, and this partnership will enable us to contribute to the sector in a meaningful way,” said Bayer communications head Tasniem Patel. She noted that Bayer’s support of the foundation’s vision to develop commercial farming skills for sustainable food production not only helped create jobs but also created opportunities for skills transfer and the development of the overall industry. Ultimately, this could contribute to increased farm output in the future, as farmers were learning to use Africa’s agricultural resources more effectively.
Patel added that the sustainable production of high-quality food should be a top priority on Africa’s development agenda, not only for the continent to meet the needs of its growing population, but also for African countries’ economic trade commitments and growth potential. “Addressing some of the major challenges in modern agriculture requires fresh answers and we are committed to helping tackle these challenges through our expertise and partnerships,” concluded Patel.