Songo Didiza

Executive director, Green Building Design Group

It was while working in management consulting with a significant producer of coal for the electricity sector as a major client that Songo Didiza decided to get involved in conservation and started volunteering for Greenpeace. “In one of my environmental campaigns we had staged an environmental protest at one of my client’s coal operation plants,” says Didiza.

“Needless to say, after my client found out I had to start looking for work opportunities that were more suited to my personal objectives, which are around climate change mitigation and reducing carbon emissions.” As executive director of Green Building Design Group (GreenBDG), her career is now grounded in the field of sustainable economic development and she has already assisted large multi-national companies on enterprise development strategies.

“We work with a wide variety of environment industry participants to reduce their building carbon emissions through educational programmes such as workshops, courses, implementation and development of industry guidelines and conferences,” she explains.

“GreenBDG began as a vision to bring together all design professionals, consultants, associations, building inspectors and contractors — including the private trading and manufacturing businesses, to promote the uptake of green design processes within the building environment.”

Didiza’s work in the green building sector includes several publications such as the Green Building Material Catalogue as well as the numerous market intelligence reports she compiled while at the GreenCape Sector Development Agency. Her industry publications include authoring the 2016 Energy Services Market Intelligence Report, which covers various energy contracting investment opportunities for the property sector in South Africa. Didiza also participates in the technical committee that drafts standards and regulations for energy efficiency in buildings. She has played a role in the training and development of building environment professions on green building opportunities such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy performance contracts for both private and public sector representatives. She has public sector experience at national, provincial and local government levels.

“I am driven by educating society and industry about the green economy,” says Didiza. “We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and society and business alike need accurate information on economically viable options to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions. “In the short to medium term my plans include the introduction of building efficiency guidelines for the building environment in South Africa and promoting resource efficiency projects in the government sector. Long-term plans are to have cross collaborations with international partners to ensure South Africa and the whole of Africa becomes a thought leader in the green building movement and climate mitigation programmes as a whole. Didiza holds a BEconSci degree as well as a post-graduate degree in sustainable development and renewable energy studies.

— Rebecca Haynes

Twitter: @bhelekazi_86