Green Building South Africa - 50 buildings certified

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has certified its 50th building since its humble beginnings six years ago. 

The council has seen some exceptional growth and the groundswell of green building in South Africa is exciting to witness. The GBCSA has together with its many partners and members activated and supported the commercial property sector towards a greener future.

Green Star SA tools 

The GBCSA developed a series of Green Star SA rating tools that set the standards for green building and provides clear guidelines on what constitutes a ‘green building’.

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) 

Green Star SA is based on the internationally-respected Australian Green Star rating system, and has been customised for the South African context. It is a voluntary rating system designed to allow the commercial property sector to independently rate and certify buildings and developments via a common green building ‘language’. The tool for new buildings encourages the built environment stakeholders and professionals to minimise the environmental impacts of their developments. Amongst other things it rewards projects for initiatives that see a reduction in waste sent to landfill and the creation of more resource efficient designs. The overall result; a building with reduced energy and water consumption and lower operating costs.

The Green Star SA tools allow for certification of buildings based on the following levels of achievement:
• 4 Star Green Star SA Certification – “Best Practice”
• 5 Star Green Star SA Certification – “South African Excellence”
• 6 Star Green Star SA Certification – “World Leadership”

“The GBCSA could not have achieved the success it has to date without the support of some very big players in the sector that have pioneered the way to a better place for people and the planet. The support has been widespread but of most significance is the take up of Green Star SA by Government bodies and big businesses from banks and property developers,” says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa.

“Globally, the built environment is responsible for one third of all carbon emissions and with global warming a very real concern that affects us all, a shift in focus to green building is something that should be foremost in everyone’s minds – from government, to developers to the average man in the street.”

Government leading by example

“It’s encouraging to see the country’s leadership take up international best practice when it comes to green buildings and we are delighted that there are nine government buildings certified to date. One of the only three 6-star buildings to be certified so far in South Africa is also in this category,” says Wilkinson.

Government building to achieve Green Star SA status are:

• SANRAL Corporate Head Office; Pretoria, Gauteng – 4-Star (2012)
• Sisonke District Offices; Ixopo, Kwazulu Natal – 5-Star (2012)
• City of Cape Town Electricity Services Head Office; Cape Town, Western Cape – 4-Star (2012)
• Human Settlements Contact Centre, Manenberg; Cape Town, Western Cape – 4-Star (2012)
• Agrivaal Building National Department of Public Works; Pretoria, Gauteng – 4-Star (2012)
• Government Communications and Information Services Head Office; Pretoria, Gauteng – 4-Star (2013)
• SANRAL Western Region Office; Cape Town, Western Cape – 4-Star (2013)
• Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Business School; Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape – 4-Star (2013)                           • National English Literature Museum (NELM); Grahamstown, Eastern Cape – 5-Star (2013)                          
• Department of Environmental Affairs Head Office; Pretoria, Gauteng – 6-Star (2013)

“As the largest owner and operator of property, the Government plays an influential leadership role in accelerating sustainability in the built environment and it is very exciting to see this impressive line-up of Green Star SA rated buildings which clearly indicate governments buy-in to green building practises,” says Wilkinson.

Making Business sense

According to construction company McGraw and Hills’ World Green Building Trend survey (2013), 51% of South Africa firms expect to be building green by 2015 – most notably in the commercial markets. This suggests outside investors, developers and owners will have an important role to play in the ongoing green building groundswell.

Organisations within the financial sector, who make it their business to focus on successful long term investments are embracing green buildings as they have recognised that investments in green buildings can produce measureable financial value, such as increased rental rates and asset value, reduced risk of depreciation, and higher tenant attraction and retention rates.

Nedbank, which is known as the “green bank” has positioned itself as a leader in the green building movement in South Africa with three buildings having received a total of five Green Star SA ratings to date. The Nedbank Menlyn Maine Falcon Building in the Menlyn Maine Precinct achieved a 4-Star Green Star SA Design rating, as well as a 5-Star Green Star SA As Built rating; the Nedbank Ridgeside Office Development in Umhlanga Rocks achieved a 4-Star Green Star SA rating; and the Nedbank Phase II building in Johannesburg achieve a 4-Star Green Star SA Design rating as well as a 4-Star Green Star SA As Built rating.

Amongst the other groundbreaking buildings to have achieved Green Star SA ratings within the banking sector are the Portside building, situated in Cape Town’s Foreshore, which achieved a 5-Star Green Star SA rating, and which is a joint initiative between Old Mutual and Firstrand Bank, as well as Standard Bank’s office development in Rosebank which achieved a 5-Star Green Star SA rating.

Other Green Star SA certified buildings are:

• Vodafone Site Solutions building; Midrand, Gauteng- 6-Star (2011)
• 40-On-Oak; Melrose Arch, Gauteng – 4-Star (2011)
• DSTV City; Randburg, Gauteng – 5-Star (2013)
• Alice Lane Phase 1 & Phase 2; Sandton, Gauteng – 4-Star (2013)
• Hyundai Head Office; Bedfordview, Gauteng- 4-Star(2013)
• Chevron Project CORE building; Cape Town, Western Cape -5-Star (2013)
• Lakeside Office Park; Centurion, Gauteng -4-Star and also awarded SAPOA Innovative Excellence Award (2013)
• No 1 and No 2 Silo buildings; Cape Town, Western Cape-6-Star and 4-Star respectively (2013)

Developers realizing the business case for green building

Because developers have kept increasing utility costs, potential carbon taxes and stricter regulations in mind when it comes to rental premises, they have recognized that Green Buildings are future-proofed, can fetch lease premiums and retain tenants for longer than conventional buildings.

SA tenants are increasingly demanding green buildings as they provide a healthier and more productive indoor environment. They also reduce the consumption of energy and other resources, which is becoming more and more important.

Several buildings belonging to commercial property developers have also achieved Green Star SA status in SA. Amongst these are 24 Richefond Circle, an office building in the Ridgeside Office Park in Umhlanga, which has a 4-Star Green Star SA rating and belongs to Shepstone & Wylie; as well as the Group Five Head Office in the Waterfall Business Estate which belongs to Atterbury Property Holdings. Growthpoint Properties has two Green Star SA certified developments – Lincoln on the Lake and Mayfair on the Lake in KwaZulu-Natal – both of which achieved a 4-star Green Star SA rating.

“Developers have identified that there are clear environmental benefits for building green as well as a compelling business case. Going green is not just about the environment, the bottom-line benefits of building and operating green buildings are particularly important considering South Africa’s rising energy costs and water scarcity – coupled with lower risks, improvements to employee productivity and ultimately, better investment returns and higher property valuations,” says Wilkinson.

Today, green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings and, with the right design features, create a more productive workplace.

“We are absolutely thrilled by the uptake in green building in South Africa. In the past few months the number of buildings that have been certified, or which have applied for certification, has increased exponentially – with 20 buildings being certified in 2013 alone. We are confident that this upward spike will continue as an ongoing trend as increased market demand and clear financial rewards, coupled with mounting government regulations and shareholder pressures, provide multiple incentives to own and occupy high-performance green buildings,” concludes Wilkinson.

So how and where can you start to make the change to green building?

The  Green Building Council of South Africa  offers these easy suggestions in five different 
areas for a basic “eco-retrofit”  at  your office or home to create a greener environment 

The earth will breathe a little easier, and so will you, if you take these simple steps:

Light bulbs: Change your traditional incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents lamps 
(CFLs) or  LED bulbs. Both use less much less energy  and last much longer than other light 
bulbs. Also, switch off the lights in your office when you leave to go home.

Paint:  Next time you paint,  opt for no-VOC or low-VOC paints. They contain much less or 
none of the chemicals found in traditional paints. These paints don?t release chemicals into 
your home or office when dried, providing better indoor air quality. This also applies to 
furniture paints and varnishes.  A reminder for those renovating - remember that in older 
buildings, you could come across hazardous materials such as lead-based paint – always take 
precautions or call professionals.

Water:  Replacing your toilet? Choose a dual flush system that provides the option of a full 
cistern flush or partial cistern flush, which saves water. Also, installing flow restrictors in your 
existing taps can reduce the water you use when washing your hands and doing the dishes. 

Garden: Indigenous vegetation can flourish in natural weather conditions, without additional
watering. If you need to water your garden, the installation of a rainwater tank to collect rain 
for use on the garden can reduce your water bills and reduce the strain on our reservoirs.

Heating: To save money and energy heating your home or office this winter, install  seals
around your windows and doors to stop the heat being sucked out and uncomfortable drafts.
Do you have any green tips? Share them with us on our website, Facebook or Twitter pages.

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