South Africa 'embracing environmental protection programmes'

solar-nasa-flickrGlobal employer certification firm Top Employers Institute has stated that 73 per cent of Top Employers have embraced environmental protection programmes and green initiatives in South Africa

The firm, which certifies excellence in working conditions in Africa and internationally, feels that South Africa is setting the precedent for other companies to adopt sustainable practices in the continent.

”As organisations begin to understand benefits of green buildings and a growing body of research supports the connectivity between sustainability and the bottom line, we are seeing more and more corporations integrating green business practices into the way they run their businesses,” said Samantha Crous, regional director at Top Employers Institute in Africa.

Green buildings are energy and water efficient, emit less carbon dioxide and make good use of space and design – all of which have been shown by studies to be good for employee productivity, health and morale.

According to the African Economic Outlook, Africa is currently outperforming global economy's three per cent growth as it looks poised to register a five per cent growth in 2014, and six per cent in 2015. Yet, the continent has taken time to embrace sustainable means of living.

The trends, however, are changing across the continent – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) office in Gigiri, Kenya has 6,000 sq m of solar panels and is probably Africa’s largest roof solar panel. Nigeria’s US$65mn Heritage Place, upon completion, promises a 30 per cent to 45 per cent reduction in energy usage compared to other buildings in Lagos, and will be the first commercial building in Nigeria to achieve the LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the United States Green Building Council).

Through teleconferencing across 26 nations, FMCG leader Unilever eliminated the need for 14,500 short-haul flights and more than 23,500 long-haul flights – saving of 113,500 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions during the year. Financial services firm Ernst & Young has a green building as its headquarters in Johannesburg, whose working spaces are designed to preserve energy, water and waste, and integrate natural light from outdoors into the building.

Crous added that green buildings are an ”investment in the future” as they will help the environment in the long-term.

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