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Cape Town turns green for annual sustainability summit

Sustainability buffs will turn Cape Town a deeper shade of green when they converge in November for the much-anticipated Green Building Convention 2015, the theme of which this year is “Inspiring Better Buildings.”

“Sustainability draws interest from a diverse range of professions and sectors,” says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA.) “The Convention brings together all of those to share insights, knowledge and inspiring stories.”

The premier event on the sustainability industry’s calendar, sponsored by Property Finance at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, this year’s Convention will take place on 2-6 November, led by broadcast personality and property guru Kura Chihota who will emcee the programme.

Opening with three days of master classes and insider property tours, the emphasis for delegates is on sustainability initiatives in action.

Keynotes and round tables kick off on Day 4 (Thursday 04 November) with a keynote address by award-winning businessman, author and passionate environmental advocate Jochen Zeitz. He will tackle the economic and business angle on sustainability – a subject he is uniquely placed to discuss. 

As Chairman of the Kering board’s sustainable development committee; former CEO of PUMA; and founder of the Zeitz Foundation for Intercultural Ecosphere Safety, Zeitz is also widely lauded for developing the Environmental Profit and Loss Account, a model for addressing sustainability goals as part of the corporate bottom-line.

On Day 5 of the Convention, Chris Smith, a member of The Naked Scientists, will deliver the opening keynote address. Founded in 2001, The Naked Scientists are based at Cambridge University in the UK and make up a team of scientists, doctors and communicators whose passion is to engage the general public more closely with the worlds of science, technology and medicine. Smith hosts radio shows on science around the world, and in South Africa, he can be heard on Friday mornings on Primedia’s Talk Radio 702 and 567 CapeTalk.

“The Naked Scientists have reached audiences across the world,” says Wilkinson, pointing out that podcasts by the group have been downloaded more than 40 million times over the past five years.

The radio shows cover not only scientific but also business and social perspectives on sustainability. Smith is well-known for explaining complicated scientific phenomenon in simple, easy to understand ways, with topics ranging from the science of climate change to why and how your productivity would be affected by natural light.

Former Greenpeace activist and chemist Professor Michael Braungart will talk about how, as a society, we can re-think industrial production in a way that is positive instead of negative in terms of sustainability.

As founder and scientific CEO of the Hamburg-based consulting firm, Environmental Protection and Encouragement Agency (EPEA) Internationale Umweltforschung, Braungart will go a step further and talk about achieving sustainable abundance in production. He has authored notable books on his pioneering concepts, including, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things; and, Beyond Sustainability: Designing for Abundance.

Another heavyweight keynote speaker in the line-up for the GBCSA Convention is Donald Thompson, an architect and founder of The Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC). 

Thompson is a real innovator and is noted for his commitment to changing the face of construction in Costa Rica and his contribution to conservation. He is the designer of the patented AGUA “Bottle to Tile” Out Cycling project, and consults to the Costa Rican Government and various multinational corporations. Thompson’s talk at the Convention is titled “Outcycling: Turning vicious cycles to virtuous ones”.

The Convention programme ensures ample opportunity for delegates to network, both formally and informally, with an opening cocktail and winetasting on November 4; a conference party at The Shed at the V&A Waterfront on November 5; and the Green Star SA Leadership Awards reception.

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