Public Works responds to global warming challenges

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works hosted the 5th Going Green Conference (GGC2017) in partnership with Green Building Design Group. The conference took place at the Public Works’ Auditorium in Pietermaritzburg from 11 to 15 September 2017.

The MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Mr Ravigasen Pillay together with Public Works Acting Head of Department, Mr Thulani Mdadane, were key government representatives in gracing such a prestigious event while, Ms Songo Didiza, CEO of the Green Building Design Group represented all stakeholder partners who attended.

Standing above (left) is Acting HOD, Mr Thulani Mdadane as he addressed the delegates on Day 1 of the GGC2017

MEC Pillay told the delegates “Going Green in Public Infrastructure is a leading priority for KZN Public Works” citing 191 Building architectural design as an example of compliance with issues of “Going Green”. He said this has contributed to an annual saving of R600 000 on electricity bill, which could be transferred to other public infrastructure projects. MEC Pillay also said he was pleased to see the enthusiasm of young professionals on energy saving and green agenda initiatives after visiting a food garden initiative started by professional interns at Head Office 191 Building.

Above: (ltr) MEC Pillay with Head of Department Mr Mdadane visited a garden developed by officials at Public Works’ Head Office while Ms Londiwe Sokhabase a professional architect watching the action

The MEC also had an opportunity to address the media on the side-lines of the GGC17 where he emphasised that “Going Green is a long overdue commitment. Not that we have not started. The attempt here is to get a more systematic or systematically approach to implementing green principles”, said MEC Pillay during an address to the media.

From the week’s programme, one would tell that the conference’s target audience was mainly a community of industry leaders, building design professionals (engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, etc.), practitioners, students and other experts including frontline professionals as well as builders dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work. The GGC2017 is therefore in pursuit and dedicated to transforming the market and changing the way people all over the country and in particular KwaZulu-Natal experience buildings.

For your ease of understanding, ‘Green Building’ is a practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle, from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice is achievable if Public Works and all of us respond to global warming by effectively managing inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity. Furthermore, to making a fair contribution to the global effort by stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Key topics covered during the conference included sustainable water infrastructure services, energy services, resource efficiency and innovative finance mechanisms that can be used to fast track sustainable public infrastructure projects in the country. Mr Mdadane, the Acting Head of Department for Public Works had a greatest opportunity to address and engage with student professionals under the theme “Student Green Innovations Day”, at a gathering hosted in partnership with the Durban University of Technology on 13 September 2017, which was Day 3 of the conference programme held at Coastlands Hotel, The Ridge in Durban.

Mr Mdadane’s speech was clear in the context of infrastructure development and maintenance that the department, as ‘an implementing agent of choice’, should develop and implement requirements for green procurement and green leases. The department should also reduce energy, water and waste management plans as well as recycling of waste and increasing the purchase of recycled materials, in buildings owned, operated or occupied by the KZN Public Works. The day’s occasion was an opportunity that offered networking and career development opportunities for emerging student professionals.

The international community has been vocal on the issues of climate change, its challenges and impact towards earth and humanity. Global warming may be referred to the slow increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere because an increased amount of energy (heat) striking the earth from the sun is being trapped in the atmosphere and not radiated out into space.

This therefore prompted Public Works, through the GGC2017 to pave a commitment to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-effective and energy-saving green buildings. It is with appreciation to appraise the reader that Dr Stanley Gichia, Public Works’ Director Major Projects Management is at the forefront in spearheading advocacy role in the development and implementation of a policy that encourages and enables ‘green buildings’ and communities, new technology, new ideas and ways that would lead to a positive response to ‘global warming challenges’.

There is too much carbon in the atmosphere caused by buildings, airplanes, cars, ships, industrials and factories that will continue to emit amounts of carbon in the near future. What the world need to do is reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon. There is a need for all economic sectors to speed and scale up collective action to achieve the global transformation required to keeping global warming to where it is supposed to be.

The KZN Public Works’ structures will be hard at work to implementing the “Green Building Policy” focussing on key areas such as maintenance, capital infrastructure projects and property; green technologies and eco-labelling. It is envisaged that the policy will be fully implemented by the Department and all other sector Departments in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. To supplement this aspiration, a massive awareness programme is to be actioned to increase an enhanced understanding by all audiences, with a view to create a better world for the future generations to live in.

Message from the MEC
Public Works employs a variety of communications tools to engage its stakeholder community. Since websites are usually the first port of call, the Department seeks to maintain a site with up to date content that is of value to our diverse audiences.
MEC Peggy Nkonyeni


Private Bag X9142, Pietermaritzburg, 3200

Tel no: 033 355 5500

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