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Green Thursday - The Green Building Council of South Africa

iWednesday, Jun 10th, 2015 comments by Barbara

The Green Building Council of South Africa   

Buildings consume 40% of the world’s end-use energy, generate 40% of its solid waste and consume 12% of fresh water, through their construction and on-going operation. Buildings going green provides an opportunity to significantly reduce these amounts at a relatively low marginal cost with the ability to reduce their consumption of energy to less than half of what a conventional building does, at relatively little cost. Building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people and communities.

Enter the Green Building Council South Africa. The GBCSA leads the transformation of the South African property industry to ensure that buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way. Chief Executive Officer of the GBCSA, Brian Wilkinson, says, “It is evident that to address the global priorities of climate change and scarcity of natural resources that the environmental impact of buildings requires urgent improvement. We aim to address this by, simply put, ‘Inspiring better buildings’ ”.

The GBCSA is an independent, non-profit company that was formed in 2007 to lead the greening of South Africa’s built environment. They provide the tools, training, knowledge, connections and networks to promote green building practices across the country and build a national movement that will change the way the world is built.

One of over 100 members of the World Green Building Council alongside Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, the organisation has developed the Green Star SA rating system and are the official certification body for Green Star SA projects.

 Establishing a common language and best practice standard of measurement for green buildings through the development of Green Star SA rating tools allows for the objective assessment of just how green a building is. Rating systems provide a menu of green measures that can be used in the design, construction and management of a building to make it more sustainable.

Each Green Star SA rating tool reflects a different market sector including office, retail, multi-unit residential, public and education buildings, as well as others that consider interiors and the performance of existing buildings.

 The green building movement in South Africa has reached a major milestone, with 100 projects now Green Star SA certified. Documented performance of the certified green building project is impressive.

 “There are multiple incentives involved in green building initiatives”, says Wilkinson, “Ultimately the upward trend in the number of buildings being certified and those applying for certification illustrates that awareness and perceptions around environmental issues have changed and evolved. Energy efficiency and the financial rewards notwithstanding, green building is the right thing to do.”

There are over 1.8 million square metres of green certified space covered by the 100 Green Star SA certification – or the equivalent of 263 rugby fields.

Given the sustainable, green implementations in these building projects, their positive impacts are far reaching. The 100 Green Star certified projects achieve the combined annual savings of 131 million kilowatt hours of electricity – the equivalent of powering 9,130 households for a year. This takes massive pressure off South Africa’s struggling power grid.

The 100 certifications also save a total of 176 million kilograms of carbon emissions – the same as taking 44,096 cars off the roads, or 5,000 full Boeing 747 flights travelling from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

Plus, they save 171 million litres of drinking water, which equates to the daily water requirements for nearly 86-million people for one day.

All these savings also have a meaningful impact to the bottom lines of the businesses that own and occupy these green buildings. In addition to creating more sustainable and productive environments, the financial incentives of operating green buildings are also being realised, particularly in the face of South Africa’s water scarcity and increasing energy costs.

Wilkinson stresses: “Green Star certification allows for the recognition and reward of environmental leadership and the GBCSA could not have reached 100 certifications without support and innovation from across the industry.”

The one hundredth building certification by GBCSA with a 5-Star Green Star SA Existing Building Performance rating was officially awarded to Kirstenhof Office Park in Paulshof, Sandton. It is owned by Growthpoint Properties, South Africa’s largest JSE-listed Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), a GBCSA Platinum Founding Member and the owner of the biggest portfolio of green buildings in the country.

Kirstenhof Office Park’s long list of green features include energy efficient lighting including fluorescents fitted with high frequency ballasts; flow restrictors on all taps; an operation waste and materials management plan and a storm water management plan to limit disruption of natural hydrology, minimise pollution and site deterioration.

Similarly, Cape Town’s Black River Park was officially the first Green Star SA rated office precinct in the country. The eight buildings at Black River Park office precinct offer a combined 75,000sqm of office space. Three buildings received a 6-Star Green Star SA rating, three received 5-Star certifications and two earned 4-Star ratings. Some of the green initiatives undertaken by the office precinct to secure its ratings include the largest roof-mounted photovoltaic system in Southern Africa which is able to feed electricity back into the grid; 68% of the tenants in the office park signed a Green Lease which governs the relationship between the building owner and the tenant to manage and operate the building along environmentally sustainable principles, to the benefit of both; sustainable management and operations that optimise the buildings’ environmental performance; a green travel plan to encourage alternative modes of transport to and from work and ecological gardens, including a vegetable garden and fruit orchard, maintained with borehole water pumped on site.

Black River Park is now owned by JSE-listed Redefine Properties who acquired the landmark green office precinct as part of its Leaf Capital deal earlier this year.

Wilkinson affirms, “The increase in pace in green building in South Africa has been phenomenal. From a single Green Star SA certification only five years ago, to 50 certifications last year, and 100 certifications now, the green building movement in South Africa is certainly gaining momentum.

“The positive impacts these buildings are having on our environment is meaningful, and becomes more significant with each green building certified. We would like to congratulate South Africa’s commercial property sector on this landmark achievement, and encourage them to continue to create sustainable, green buildings.”





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