Property giants go green

In 2011 it was reported that only three out of nine property funds listed on the JSE had elected to participate in a voluntary exercise to measure the carbon footprint of the JSE’s top 100.

It appears sentiment is turning with more and more property developers opting for sustainability not only as an alternative building initiative, but as a selling point to discerning buyers.

Listed funds that failed to respond to an online questionnaire include Redefine, capital Property Fund (JSE:CPL), Fountainhead Property Trust (JSE:FPT), Hyprop Investments (JSE:HYP) and Pangbourne Properties (JSE:PAP).

Upon inquiry, Hyprop responded by saying it had implemented a “green policy” throughout the group. It added that as a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the company had undertaken to ensure its buildings were managed in an environmentally sustainable way with minimum negative impact on the wider community.

It added in an e-mail: “All of Hyprop’s shopping centres use an independent contractor to monitor that energy savings comply with the requirements set by the local council. For example for the year ended December 31 2010 Canal Walk in Cape Town achieved a reduction in maximum demand of 40% below the industry benchmark – 34% below the SANS 204 standard – while reducing electricity consumption (kWh) to 3% below the industry benchmark. Further energy saving initiatives under investigation at Hyprop’s centres include solar panels and skylights using energy saving glass. All of the centres have had energy saving lighting installed and closely monitor air-conditioning and water usage.”

Another property group that has climbed on the bandwagon is Century Property Developments. It boasts a sprawling Waterfall Country Estate and Village north of Johannesburg, including a Green Design Centre (GDC) to educate people on building while keeping climate change and being environmentally responsible in mind. “At the GDC we are pleased to see that both our exhibitors and visitors are educating themselves and making impressive efforts to drive this initiative to promote a green and secure estate and living space.”

Century CEO Mark Corbett says all homes on the estate are fitted with gas stoves and other energy saving components and only indigenous trees, which require less water, have been planted on site.

JSE listed Growthpoint also has a feather in its cap after earning a sought after four-star Green Star SA Office certification for its Lincoln on the Lake office development in Umhlanga north of Durban.

It’s the second four-star rating in Growthpoint’s office portfolio – the first being for Mayfair on the Lake development awarded by the GBCSA in November 2011.

“Growthpoint will continue to identify opportunities for new green developments. We want to build new offices that have the least impact on the environment and create the best experience for users,” says Rudolf Pienaar, Growthpoint Properties (JSE:GRT) offices divisional director.
Only 15 office buildings have been awarded Green Star SA certification.

Property developer Amdece’s head of sustainability, Josef Quraishi, says long-term energy and water savings which translate into cost savings are slowly directing business and home owners towards seeking out green buildings.

Amdec’s latest residential development, Forty on Oak, within the Melrose Arch precinct north of Johannesburg, is the first in the country to achieve a four-star Green Star SA multi-unit residential pilot design rating from the GBCSA.

Amdec says it has since received a multitude of enquiries from new and existing tenants on how they can achieve a green star rating or implement greener building principles within their office, residential or retail space.

The GBCSA says tenants are becoming discriminating about where they live and work. “Globally, consumers are becoming more discerning, and this is slowly taking root in South Africa. Investors want to know that companies have a sustainable outlook, and companies must prove that their green thinking is not mere rhetoric.”

Currently there are 17 Green Star SA certifications in South Africa, most of which are design ratings, and three are As-built ratings. There are another 20 buildings registered to be certified.
National Business Initiative director (NBI), Valerie Green, says many property owners cite measuring their carbon footprint as problematic as it is difficult to separate the actions of owners to those of tenants. Most tenants, especially in shopping centres, have no incentive to save due to the billing system. Green says often the bill is taken at the end of the month and divided among tenants, irrespective of whether or not they had implemented energy saving measures.
She says this needs to be addressed by owners who need to consider separate billing for each tenant. For example, a fast food outlet is likely to consume far more energy than a book store, yet at the end of the day the bill is merely shared among tenants.

Director of Incite Consultancy, Jonathon Hanks, says of the apathy of the real estate sector: “Real estate is not appreciating the risks and opportunities that climate change offers”.

In the report Capital Shopping Centres Group (JSE:CSO) is quoted as saying: “The major part of our energy cost is managed on behalf of tenants through service charges. Increases in taxation could compromise shareholder value if occupational costs are weighted away from rental income. Likewise, if our properties are perceived to be energy inefficient, and therefore costly to operate, it could affect rental value.” This was also in reference to government’s proposed carbon tax for non-compliant companies.

Property owners can also play a crucial role in reducing building emissions in South Africa’s main cities, yet it doesn’t appear they are coming to the climate party.

Author: Micel Schnehage

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  • Adriaan Grove - posted 02 May 2012 07:07 AM                                    

    Great with the green building initiatives.
    Real Estate companies can also go green with their IT operational infrastructure by moving to the cloud.

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