Green is the hottest colour

With so many big corporate companies taking the plunge and converting buildings into green spaces or building new green offices we take a look at some of the greenest buildings in South Africa.

According to The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) South Africa can only boast with 12 buildings, most of which are corporate structures, which has Green Star SA certification. They include Nedbank in Sandton at four stars, the Aurecon in Century City, Cape Town at five stars and the recently unveiled Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand with six stars, a first in South Africa which places it the best of the with other international green buildings.

The others, all achieved four star status which is the minimum rating, they include:
  • Villa Mall (the controversial Sharemax development in Pretoria),
  • Nedbank Ridgeside (Umlanga),
  • 24 Richefond Circle (Umhlanga),
  • Aurecon Centre Tshwane (Pretoria),
  • Nedbank Menlyn Maine Falcon Building (Pretoria);
  • Forty on Oak (Melrose Arch in Johannesburg),
  • Mayfair on the Lake,
  • Lincoln on the Lake (Umhlanga);
  • Upper Grayston Office Park Building E (Johannesburg).  

To be rated, senior technical coordinator of the GBCSA, Nick Mulvany, says you need to register the project with the GBCSA where after a certification agreement is signed comprising a legal relationship between the GBCSA and the project.

A certification fee is then payable. If you are building from scratch or refurbishing an existing building, you will then proceed with the design, ensuring that it is done in accordance with the applicable Green Star SA technical manual. As your design proceeds you should start preparing your documentation for your submission to the GBCSA.

Mulvany says the submission must comprise evidence that your design complies with the specific technical manual’s requirements. Once the council has received it, it will be put through two rounds of a rigorous assessment process.

Points are awarded in round one if no errors or omissions are identified by three independent assessors. Mulvany says: “Where deficiencies or errors are found, the results are provided back to the design team to address for the round two submission.” Certification is only awarded after round two if the assessors are satisfied that the outstanding issues in first round had been addressed.

Mulvany says if you fail to achieve the rating you aimed for, there is an appeal process under special circumstances. Round one takes seven weeks to complete whereas the second takes five weeks.

The whole certification process can take anything from 12 to 24 months, depending on the project programme and the design team.

Asked if the fact that only 12 buildings had gone through the process and obtained  green star status so far was not disappointing, Mulvany said Green Star SA certification was gaining momentum in the industry. “Given the construction and property industry in South Africa had never had to consider green building practices before, we are pleased with the uptake and are preparing for a busy 2012”.

The GBCSA says to date a further 25 projects have been registered with the council and have begun the certification process.

Mulvany says what is encouraging is that the council is being flooded with queries, albeit they are mainly from larger developers and corporates.

“What is driving the current uptake of Green Star SA is the large corporates, which is fantastic. However, we wish to see smaller developers get on board. “We can’t afford to look at our buildings from a simple upfront Capex point of view, we need to look at the life cycle cost of our buildings. This is especially true for the South African and African context,” Mulvany said.

The GBCSA’s definition of a green building is: “… a building which is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible- which incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate its negative impact on the environment and its occupants. Building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people to live and work in.”

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