The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has announced that the use of PVC products in buildings seeking Green Star SA ratings will no longer be penalised. This means that environmentally conscious building contractors in South Africa can now make use of the full benefits of PVC piping products.
The GBCSA developed its Green Star SA rating system to provide the local property industry with an objective measurement for green buildings, and to recognise and reward environmental leadership in the industry. The council initially introduced the clause to minimise the use of PVC products in buildings due to environmental concerns regarding their formulation, manufacturing and end-of-life disposal.
Following negotiations with the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA), the GBCSA agreed to adopt recommendations to remove the Mat-7 PVC minimisation credit in its Green Star rating system, provided that PVC manufacturers adhere to best practice conditions.
DPI Plastics – a leading manufacturer of water reticulation, drainage and pipe-fitting systems in South Africa – has welcomed the decision. The company’s product manager for pressure pipe systems, Renier Snyman, says, “The Mat-7 minimisation clause impacted negatively on DPI Plastics’ sales, as it required that contractors and architects should avoid the use of PVC pipes if they were looking to achieve a four- or five-star rating for their buildings. In the past, any projects that used PVC would be penalised and this affected their Green Star ratings in an industry that is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious.”
GBCSA CEO Brian Wilkinson confirms, “In late 2011, the GBCSA completed a comprehensive credit review process for the Mat-7 PVC minimisation credit, which is one of 69 total credits in the Green Star SA green building rating system. The GBCSA Technical Steering Committee resolved to withdraw the credit after considering the outcomes of the credit review, which involved stakeholder engagement through a PVC Expert Reference Panel and took account of precedents set by other green building councils on the treatment of PVC in green building rating tools.”
Snyman says that the removal of clause now means that the use of PVC products has a neutral impact on the Green Star rating of a building in South Africa. However, the neutral rating applies only to PVC manufacturers that meet best practice standards in the manufacture and recycling of the product.
“As a founding member of the South African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA) – established to create quality, trust and integrity throughout the value chain of the industry – DPI Plastics has committed itself to these best practice methods,” Snyman says.
Due to its light weight, high strength, low reactivity, and corrosion resistance, PVC is an ideal material for piping. According to Snyman, these properties, among others, have seen PVC become the most popular piping product in South Africa. “In addition,” he says, “PVC pipes are almost entirely leak-proof when joined together, so it is one of the most reliable piping products in the industry too.”