The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has appointed Seana Nkhahle from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) as its new Chairman.
Nkhahle, who is also a founding director of the GBCSA, takes over the reins from long-time Chairman Bruce Kerswill, who played a leading role in the formation of the council.
The GBCSA was established in 2007 to promote green building development in the country. It is a member of the World Green Building Council (World GBC) and is today one of the most active councils worldwide.
Nkhahle is an Executive Director at SALGA, responsible for ‘Corporate Strategy and Research’. Prior to this he was the Executive Manager and National Programmes Co-ordinator at the South African Cities Network from 2005 to 2009. In both these roles he facilitated partnerships and support to selected municipalities to improve sustainability in their operations with particular emphasis on energy, water and landuse management. Up to 2005, he was a managing Partner at Syn-Consult Africa, a consulting firm focusing mostly on sustainability on the built environment. Nkhahle is one of the founding members of the GBCSA board thus bringing institutional memory of the organisation and some important insights into the industry.
Nkhahle holds a Bsc (Hons) Town and Regional Planning from Wits University. In 2004 Nkhahle received a recognition award issued jointlyby the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. This was awarded for a toolkit he developed for assessing sustainability of housing projects. The toolkit formed the basis from which he was able to contribute towards the development of GBCSA’s rating tools.
GBCSA CEO, Brian Wilkinson, comments: “We are happy to welcome Seana Nkhahle on board as the council’s new Executive Chairman. He brings with him extensive experience in terms of sustainability knowledge in his academic work as well as the work he has done in consulting and in local government.
Wilkinson praised the efforts of Kerswill in founding the council and his passion and commitment to creating awareness and promoting green building and sustainable development in South Africa.
“Kerswill is one of the country’s leading green building advocates and has helped put South Africa on the international map in terms of embracing green building, through the establishment of the GBCSA. He has gone on to become the chairperson of the World GBC and his leadership in transforming the building industry towards green is noteworthy. We thank Kerswill for his incredible work and know that he will continue to play a role in green building locally and internationally,” says Kerswill.
Commenting on his appointment, Nkhahle says he is looking forward to the opportunity of heading the board of the GBCSA and playing a meaningful role in transforming the building industry towards a greener future. He believes that enhancing sustainability in the built environment and urban development will enhance efficiency in South African towns and cities as well as those on the rest of the continent.
“I want to draw on my experience in sustainable urban development and local government in taking the GBCSA into the next phase of its journey. The council is at an important chapter, where green building is gradually gaining momentum. People, private companies and government are realising that managing climate change is becoming increasingly important and that green building is a crucial element to this effect. An important milestone in the green building industry and a departure from previous debate is that while green building is crucial for climate change mitigation, it is equally important for financial purposes as green buildings yield better economic returns while at the same time improved liveability bodes well socially”.
The new chairperson’s goals are to consolidate the solid foundation that has been built by his predecessor and to enhance the scope and reach of the council. This includes ensuring that more commercial buildings are supported to achieve good ratings thus building on the momentum already seen in this category. Existing buildings which has the biggest building stock will also be a key target. Nkhahle anticipates supporting government and municipalities in particular to play a bigger role in facilitating sustainability in their respective built environments.