What is Net Zero? Bringing African buildings into the future

What is Net Zero? Bringing African buildings into the future

Understanding the concept of Net-Zero

This session will cover the overall definitions of Net Zero in terms of the Green Building Council of South Africa’s four categories being Carbon, Waste, Ecology, and Water, and how these apply to African buildings of the future. 


Cette session couvrira les définitions générales de Net Zero en termes des quatre catégories du Green Building Council of South Africa, à savoir le carbone, les déchets, l’écologie et l’eau, et comment celles-ci s’appliquent aux bâtiments africains du futur.


Host: Sustainability Architects (MSSA) and Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA)

Speakers: Marc Sherratt and Georgina Smit

Johannesburg, South Africa

Marc Sherratt

Recently chosen by the Mail & Guardian as one of South Africa’s pioneers in the green economy Marc Sherratt has designed some of the most progressive green buildings in the country. An Architect and Net Zero Accredited Professional Marc founded Marc Sherratt, Sustainability Architects (MSSA) in 2017. His team went onto design the first triple Net Zero project accredited by the Green Building Council of South Africa. With 9 years experience in the construction industry he is considered one of the leaders of the green building movement on the continent. His personal portfolio of work has achieved international recognition where he was unconditionally accepted to study at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. Instead of pursuing further studies he started MSSA who specializes in producing contemporary African architecture at the highest sustainability standards.

Georgina Smit

Georgina Smit is Head of Technical at the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). She oversees certification and research related products that drive the property sector to design, build and operate buildings in a more sustainable way. She manages the Technical team at the GBCSA who are responsible for independently certifying green and net zero buildings and identifying market leaders. Her daily responsibilities include driving market transformation through certification which can verify tangible, quantifiable impacts and providing customer focused technical support to all stakeholders engaging with the GBCSA, both in the private and public sector.

Session Summary

What is Net Zero, Bringing African buildings into the future? This question was discussed by Georgina Smit, head of technical at the green Building Council of South Afria (GBCSA) and Marc Sherrat, architect, responsible for some of the most innovative green buildings in the country.

Georgina Smit opened the session by highlighting the importance of green buildings, given the climate crisis we are faced with today, particularly in South Africa. Green buildings should not just be though of in terms of building construction, but is a conversation which should be had throughout a buildings’ life cycle. Both her and Marc highlighted that the question of Net Zero cannot be achieved by only addressing carbon net zero, but also should be achieved through considerations of waste, water and ecology.

Marc demonstrated how net zero can be achieved through some of his designs, walking us through the design process of his projects including the Fire House, in Alexandra, Johannesburg, the triple Net Zero-certified Vleihuis Residential Development and Hygea Health Center. Each of these projects demonstrated how achieving Net Zero waste, ecology, water and carbon is an intertwined process.

This session highlighted that Net Zero buildings are achievable, necessary, appealing to clients and extends beyond the greenwashed definitions commonly associated with the term “Net Zero”