The way we design, construct and inhabit the buildings that make up our cities is a reflection of the world around us. As that world changes, our homes, offices, schools and other public spaces must adapt, too – and governments, both local and national, need to put appropriate laws and regulations in place to guide this process so we can create a built environment that is fit for the future.
The important thing to know is that you can play a part in this! Explore this section to learn more about the laws shaping green buildings in South Africa – and find out how you can participate in ensuring those laws make our cities better places to live … for everyone.
What laws do we have now?
Back in 2011, South Africa took a big step towards transforming our built environment for the better with the introduction of the South African National Building 10400–XA Regulations (SANS 10400 XA). The aim was to improve the environmental credentials of new buildings and building extensions by setting standards for efficient energy use. From optimal insulation and building orientation to the design of floors, walls and roofs, the requirements set out in SANS 10400 XA were designed to minimise energy use in all stages of a building's lifecycle. (Find out more about building for improved energy efficiency here.)
The introduction of SANS 10400 XA was a positive, but it is now clear that we need to fast-track South Africa’s transition to green building – especially in our big urban centres, which have a leading role to play in driving greener and more sustainable growth for the country as a whole. This is why the Tshwane, Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini metros are each preparing to introduce a set of bylaws that will promote the development of green, energy-efficient buildings powered by cleaner and renewable energy sources.
By participating in this process, you can help your city to unlock all the benefits that green buildings bring – for both people and the planet.
WHY CITIES DRIVE GREEN CHANGE
South Africa’s urban areas are growing fast: 63% of us already live in cities and that figure will rise to 71% by 2030. This makes cities the engines of economic growth and employment. But unless our urban centres invest in a greener, hi-tech future, many of the economic opportunities that lie ahead will be missed.
Cities are also our country’s biggest environmental culprits, contributing to the climate-change impacts that also affect them most severely – such as water shortages, air pollution, flooding and more. With so much at stake, our cities must take action now.
Luckily, our urban hubs are also where innovation in ideas and technologies thrives. This makes them the prefect places to kickstart the transition to a greener built environment, providing jobs and social benefits as well as protecting vital natural resources.