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
By Triphomus Muyagu
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has warned that water and sanitation will remain one of the key development challenges facing African communities and nations, with direct impacts on economic growth.
The statement from AfDB has been made at the 6th Africa Water Week (AWW6), held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, from July, 18 which has ended today.
“Africa is one of the developing regions that have not met the drinking water and sanitation targets. More than 50% of Africa’s population currently does not have access to safe and reliable water and sanitation services. Also an estimated of 1 million Africans die every year from lack of adequate sanitation, hygiene and from water borne diseases,” Mohamed El Azizi, AfDB’s Water and Sanitation Director, said.
The AfDB is in a unique position to help African countries better cope with water and sanitation challenges. “We have track records in implementing water, sanitation and climate change resilience projects as well as a robust experience in managing dedicated trust funds and tools: the award-winning African Water Facility, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, African countries can really benefit from our experiences and lessons learnt,” said El Azizi.
“Expanding access to clean water and better sanitation is a strategic priority for the AfDB. Overall, our projects created 116,000 m3 of drinking water capacity between 2013-2015, with more than 6.1 million people benefiting from improved access to water and sanitation as a result of our projects,” he added.
The AfDB and the African Water Facility an instrument established by the African Ministers’ Council on Water and hosted by the AfDB took part in a series of events aimed at translating the high-level commitments on water security and sanitation into implementation.
Discussions have allowed to identify the main “game changers” and the policy shifts that are needed to reach the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) endline to “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all” Participants also tried to develop a common understanding of policy design options and financing requirements for practical implementation of climate change resilience projects.
“Getting the right design is critical for financing of any infrastructure. Key design parameters for water infrastructure are hydrological information. In many countries this information is weak and the uncertainties introduced by climate change make projections even more difficult. A new program Hydromet can support better information for design in climate resilient infrastructure,” said Jean-Michel Ossete, acting coordinator, African water facility.
“To meet SDG6 targets in Africa, realistic and comprehensive financing plans are needed based on the costs of providing both hardware and software components, as well as operations and maintenance to ensure services operate efficiently and sustainably,” added Jochen Rudolph, water and sanitation expert, AfDB
AWW6 was an opportunity to explore and identify opportunities for linkages and collaboration across global, regional, and sub-regional monitoring initiatives in order to better track progress on SDG6.
The Bank’s delegation to AWW6 also seized the opportunity to explain how AfDB’s top five priorities or “High 5s” as well as its climate finance strategies can help accelerate the attainment of SDGs.