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Black River Park first Green Star SA rated office precinct in SA

Black River Park in Cape Town has become the first office precinct in South Africa to receive Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) certified Green Star SA ratings for all its buildings.

The eight buildings at Black River Park office precinct in Observatory, offering a combined 75,000m² of office space, have earned unparalleled green building credentials. Besides being the first full office park to have all buildings Green Star SA rated, it is also home to the first Green Star SA Existing Building Performance (EBP) certified building and the first buildings to receive a 6 Star Green Star SA Existing Building Performance rating.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of GBCSA, comments, “This is a major achievement, both for Black River Park and for GBCSA. Certifying all eight of Black River Park’s existing buildings is quite a feat, especially for a precinct of this size. It is an exciting example of outstanding sustainable innovation, and confirms the vision of its management team and their outstanding commitment to sustainability.”

He adds, “We would like to see more business parks following this leading example. All the buildings at Black River Park were certified using the EBP rating tool. The EBP tool means that South Africa’s many existing buildings in established office parks can now be retrofitted with green innovations and certified. This has huge potential for positive impacts to our environment, our businesses and our economy.” Nedbank Corporate Property Finance sponsored the EBP tool.

Black River Park is home to more than 110 companies, including the GBCSA’s head office and South African Property Owners Association’s Western Cape offices. It is now owned by JSE-listed Redefine Properties. Redefine acquired the landmark green office precinct as part of its Leaf Capital deal earlier this year.

Redefine CEO, Andrew Konig, comments, “The Black River Park complex has set itself apart with pioneering green initiatives and sustainable building management. We are exceptionally pleased to acquire this property, which perfectly supports our commitment to sustainability.”

The Black River Park buildings received maximum points on all credits targeted in their Green Star SA submissions. Three buildings received a 6-Star Green Star SA rating, three received 5-Star certifications and two earned 4-Star ratings.

Sally Misplon of Misplon Green Building Consulting, the Green Star Accredited Professional and principal participant in the green project team, guided Black River Park right from the very start in its certification project.

Some of the green initiatives undertaken by the office precinct to secure its ratings include:

  • The largest roof-mounted photovoltaic system in Southern Africa.
  • Feeding electricity back into the grid.
  • A high-performance green cleaning programme.
  • 68% of the tenants in the office park signed a Green Lease. These leases encourages collaboration and govern the relationship between the building owner and the tenant to manage and operate the building along environmentally sustainable principles, to the benefit of both.
  • For comfort and well-being, the building features performance glass and balcony overhangs, to reduce heat and shield harsh sunlight.
  • All lights in common areas were replaced with LEDs, with owners and tenants both benefiting from cost savings achieved as a result. A financing option was also offered to tenants to enable them to retrofit to LED in their own premises.
  • Indoor air quality testing and management.
  • All 6 Star rated buildings stood out for water and energy performance. They outperformed the Green Star benchmarks and achieved significant improvement on their baselines.
  • Sustainable management and operations that optimise the buildings’ environmental performance.
  • A green travel plan to encourage alternative modes of transport to and from work.
  • Sustainable procurement and purchasing practices. For every product or consumable purchased by Black River Park, the most sustainable one is selected.
  • All waste at the park is sorted into recyclable and non-recyclable materials. It also correctly disposes of fluorescent tubing, batteries and e-waste. Garden waste is recycled and reused as mulch.
  • Ecological gardens, including a vegetable garden and fruit orchard, are maintained with borehole water pumped on site.

Perhaps some of the most exciting green innovations at Black River Park are those involving the park’s tenants. These include holding a ‘cycle to work’ day, a clean-up of the Liesbeeck River that runs past the park and other activations with the precinct’s tenant community. Numerous other presentations and showcase tours are held for parties such as UCT, African Utility Week, Iziko museum and the like.

“It is wonderful to see an office park owner going above and beyond what’s required for certification,” says Wilkinson. “These initiatives encourage people to do more within green spaces and enjoy their many benefits. They bring sustainable environments to life and encourage the wider community to become an active part of the green building movement.”

Source: Cape Business News

‘Traditional buildings’ get a green wash

Green Building Council’s new tool assigns ratings to existing buildings.

Nearly eight years ago, green building was considered ‘the right thing to do’, but more developers and building owners now view it as an economic necessity.

This is according to Nedbank’s executive head of property finance Rob Lockhart-Ross. “New buildings represent about 2% of South Africa’s building stock and existing buildings represent some 98% – clearly we have to work on existing buildings.”

New buildings are more likely to have energy efficient initiatives than existing buildings, which are mostly built to traditional standards.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), says a green building on average saves 25% in electricity and “if all the buildings did that [go green] we would not have an energy crisis”.

Developers are starting to take stock of the benefits of going green, through retrofits such as energy efficient light fittings, investing in rain harvesting technology, waste disposal and solar panel heating.

Beyond the cost saving elements, energy efficient buildings are said to be competitive, better marketed and generally preferred by occupants over traditional buildings.

Rating ‘old’ buildings

As green building continues to take off at a rapid rate in South Africa, the focus will now be on greening buildings that are built to traditional standards.

This is already happening with the GBCSA’s Existing Building Performance (EBP) tool, a first of its kind in the country. The tool, which was launched in 2013, assesses the management of a building in order to maintain optimal sustainability performance.

Since the launch of the tool about 65 non-efficient buildings have registered to be assessed for a green star certification. About 25 buildings of the total have applied for their energy efficient certification.

Already, two existing buildings have been awarded a green certificate and more are expected to be announced says the CEO of GBCSA Brian Wilkinson.

The latest green certificate was awarded to WSP House building in Bryanston, which was awarded a three-star green star rating.

The North Park (pictured below) in the Black River Park office park in Observatory, Cape Town, was the first building in the country to be awarded an existing building certification.

North Park15 copy (2)

The building was awarded a five-star green star certification from the EBP tool for its 75 000 square metre office park size.

Some of the buildings which are undergoing an EBP tool rating include Redefine Properties’ Cape Town CBD-based The Towers (previously Standard Bank Centre), Growthpoint Properties’ Fredman Towers, Grayston Office Park in Sandton and KwaZulu Natal’s Lincoln on the Lake.

Nedbank’s 105 West in Johannesburg, Menlyn Maine in Pretoria, Clock tower in Cape Town and WSP House Bryanston are awaiting an EBP rating. The regional headquarters for BP Southern Africa near the V&A Wharf Shopping Centre in Cape Town is also in line for a possible rating.

The GBCSA had no rating tool applicable to existing buildings, focusing its efforts largely on new buildings instead.

In April, the council certified its 50th building, representing a million square metres in space, says Wilkinson. “We hope to reach our 100th building in April this year. It took us six years to get 50 buildings,” he says. The registered buildings on the EBP tool will enable the council to reach its certification targets.

GBCSA’s technical manager Jenni Lombard says certification of a building using the EBP tool lasts only for three years to enforce the continued monitoring of buildings.

“With new built tools [referring to tools for newly constructed buildings] you get a once-off rating that you keep forever,” Lombard says. However, she expects that existing buildings will be reassessed every three years to renew their rating. “We need to know that the building managers are still maintaining and managing a building, in the same way.”

Wilkinson says in terms of green rating existing buildings, they can be awarded from a three- to six-star green rating – representing best practice to world leadership.

Despite South Africa being fairly new to green building compared with established markets such as Australia, the US and Europe, the country is considered the fastest-growing green building market.


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