Green construction set for growth

The global drive towards sustainable development is expected to strongly influence the South African market for green manufacturing materials in construction.

The promulgation of the SANS 10400-XA legislation and the voluntary initiative of the Green Buildings Council of South Africa (GBCSA) will be the key drivers for growth in the market. Participants in the commercial construction sector are seeking GBCSA’s Green Star rating in order to elevate their company profile and be seen as socially and environmentally responsible.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “Analysis of the Green Materials Market for Construction”, finds that the market earned revenues of $1,4-billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach $1,5-billion in 2017. The study covers the green cement, green paints and coatings, and the green thermal insulation segments. Since cement is the dominant segment with 93% market share, activity in this segment will dominate the growth behaviour of green materials for construction.

Currently, health, education and safety top the list of national priorities for the South African government and environmental concerns are not deemed as critical. As a result, there is no legislation in South Africa, like those in Europe, to enforce the use of green materials. If the SANS 10400-XA legislation is enforced by the government, certain green materials – that are either embodied with low energy or act to reduce the energy consumption of a building – will be made compulsory in the construction of all new buildings.

“The lack of legislation with regards to the implementation of green materials in construction and ‘green washing’, where companies falsely claim to be green, are key challenges that prevent the growth of the market,” says Frost & Sullivan’s chemicals, materials and food research analyst Dilshaad Booley. “However, if the South African government passes SANS 10400-XA within the next 2 years, the growth of green materials will double in the next 10 years.”

Enforcing the use of green materials by legislation is the main factor that will accelerate growth in the green materials market. Without this, price will remain a deciding factor when selecting materials. This will be to the detriment of the market as awareness on the benefits of green materials is relatively low and the cost is slightly higher than that of conventional materials.

“Green materials should be marketed as having the same, if not better performance, as conventional materials, with ‘being green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ offered as an additional feature or benefit,” says Booley. “Pricing of green materials should also be competitive and in line with conventional materials.”

Strategic campaigning and education on the benefits, as well as long-term cost savings, of green materials will significantly boost the market in South Africa. This will also dispel any green washing that may exist and create reputability with end users in the construction industry. Third-party certification schemes too will assist the growth of the green materials market.


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