Turning green

This is due to the costs savings tenants can derive from renting green buildings, said Org Geldenhuys, managing director of property development and marketing company, Abacus Divisions.

Geldenhuys said one of the property developers at Route 21 Corporate Park in Irene – a R2 billion office park development – is currently investing R60 million in a 4 000 square metre green building. “The owner, while charging a similar rent to other property owners in the office park, is building a fully fledged green building, which has the potential to save its tenant a total of up to R40 000 in monthly operating costs.

“While the building is in the process of being completed the owner is taking a 20 year view of his investment – but is expecting to attract high calibre tenants, with a very high occupancy rate compared to traditional buildings.”

Geldenhuys said green-efficient air conditioners can save up to 50% on running costs of normal air conditioners – which account for as much as 60% of the overall electrical bill. On a 4 000 square metre building, electricity costs could run between R80 000 – R100 000 per month.  This means that, by having the benefits of energy-efficient ‘green’ air conditioners, tenants cold save up to R30 000 on the monthly electricity bill.

Additionally, because this new building is making use of rain water harvesting, the tenant – based on water usage of 360 000 litres per month – can expect a monthly saving of R 4000 per month on water. When it comes to sanitation savings, this figure could be as high as R1 200 per month.

“If you start considering other green benefits – which are not as easily quantifiable - tenants could be looking at making further monthly savings of around R 5000 per month due to green features such as occupancy sensors (for lighting), recessed windows, daylight harvesting, solar-powered geysers and external sunscreens. If you take into account all of these extras, a tenant who decides to occupy a fully fledged green building could save up to 10% on monthly operating costs. On a 4 000 square metre building, this saving could be around R40 000.”
While Geldenhuys admits the jury is still out, he does believe that green buildings will definitely attract high quality tenants – and long-term tenants – something that will ultimately play out in favour of thelandlord.

Green features of the building

The new R60 million building will be developed with a long list of green features.

This includes variable refrigerant volume (VRV) air conditioner units that reduce the number of units from 96 air conditioners in a conventional system to just 16 units in the VRV system. Power saving with the VRV system is estimated to be 50% less than conventional systems, which makes a huge impact on the building’s future operating costs.

It will also include the use of rainwater and groundwater harvesting, a process which sees water being stored in a 150 000 litre sump for re-use in the building and gardens. Geldenhuys also said that energy efficient glass would be used throughout the building, which acts to reduce the heat load on the building – and therefore less heating and cooling is required.

Motion sensors will also be used in the bathrooms and basements to switch off lights when the area is not in use.

LED lights and florescent strip lights will be used, which are much more energy efficient than traditional halogen lights. In addition, sunscreens on the western façade of the building are expected to reduce the heat load from the western sun, while the lobby area will make use of passive lighting via curtain glass walls to allow for natural sunlight in the lobby area.
There will also be water saving in the bathrooms via Giberit dual flush toilet systems, as well as Hans Grohe automatic taps.

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