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

Green Building Council launches new Green Star SA Interiors tool

Continuing its vision to lead the transformation of the South African property sector into an environmentally sustainable industry, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has launched its new Green Star SA Interiors tool – taking green building into the heart of every South African business.

The new Interiors tool, sponsored by both Standard Bank as the main sponsor and Saint Gobain as supporting sponsor, encourages tenants to rate the interior fit-outs of their premises. The overall aim of this new rating tool is to encourage the reduced environmental impact of interior projects.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, comments: “Our current suite of rating tools focus largely on the design and construction applied to new buildings and major refurbishments. Until now, they’ve had very little consideration for interior fit-outs inside each premises. The new Green Star SA Interiors tool is a key rating tool that will make a significant impact, especially on multitenant retail and office space.”

Wilkinson adds: “We are excited to launch this pioneering new tool for South Africa, and believe that it will help transform thousands of offices, shops, restaurants and many other places, in existing and new buildings across the country, into sustainable green spaces.”

Nathi Manzana, Standard Bank’s Head of Professional and Technical Services says: “Standard Bank is committed to sustainable business. This commitment is seen in the business practices we conduct, the facilities we manage, and the associations that we support. Working sustainably makes sound business sense, supports the environment and provides a productive space for our employees to serve our customers.”

Manzana adds: “Standard Bank’s new Rosebank office complex is an illustration of this. The building was completed in 2013 and accommodates around 4 500 employees in customer-facing operations. It has achieved a 5-star Green Star SA Design office v1 rating by the GBCSA and a 5-star Green Star SA As built office v1 rating.”

Lisa Reynolds, Sustainability Director at Saint-Gobain Gyproc, comments: “Saint-Gobain Gyproc is mindful of the fact that developing green environments requires much more than just energy planning. The company’s primary focus is the contribution our products make to the reduction of energy usage in both homes and workplaces. We have a number of products in our portfolio that have been designed and developed in-line with the company’s commitment to moving towards a greener environment, ensuring our products are able to contribute to energy efficient buildings being awarded the highest Green Star certification.”

The Green Star SA Interiors tool will reward high-performance tenant spaces that are healthy, productive places to work and incentivise best practice for sustainable and efficient interior fit-outs that are also less costly to maintain and operate.

It is designed to allow each tenancy to have unique environmental design initiatives, and to fairly and independently benchmark each one.

The benefits are far-reaching. Significantly lower building operation and management costs will provide cost savings for both tenants and landlords, and an energy-efficient premises would be less affected by soaring energy prices. In addition, with the national energy crises, lower energy consumption in green buildings reduces the strain on the power grid.

“A healthy building means happier employees and improved productivity. Businesses will be in a better position to retain talented staff and fast‐track behavioural change,” says Wilkinson.

He adds there are several knock-on advantages to using the Green Star SA Interiors tool. “It will definitely give businesses a competitive advantage. It signifies industry leaders who provide smart and healthy work, shopping and meeting places that are ‘set apart’ in the marketplace. It is not only a responsible investment, but serves to heighten a business’s attractiveness as an investment, a partner and an employer.”

The tool will also recognise and encourage collaboration between the building owner and tenants to manage and operate the building along environmentally sustainable principles.

The tool considers interior fit-outs from an all-round perspective, including the project scope and implementation. “It would, for example, identify and encourage management practises that minimise the amount of demolition and construction waste going to disposal,” notes Wilkinson.

“It gives recognition to the design of workspaces that provide spatial efficiency and improve productivity and occupant performance. Credits targeted will include quality of internal air, thermal, lighting and visual comfort, acoustic quality, ergonomics, as well as energy monitoring and greenhouse gas emissions,” Wilkinson says.

The Green Star SA Interiors pilot programme has already been a success. Various interior fit-out projects at retailers, gyms, offices as well as standalone fit-outs at branches are part of the pilot phase. Version one of the tool is now available for public use.

Source: GBCSA


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GBCSA: SA schools must go green and save

Schools are increasingly seeing the benefits of going green through energy and water saving initiatives in the face of spiralling utility costs, says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA). But, there is a lot more that can be done and schools must be educated about the benefits.

“With the 2015 school year now underway countrywide, following the back to school rush, it is an opportune time for school leaders and governing bodies to look more seriously at the benefits of green initiatives. While the main benefit may be cost savings, there are other positive outcomes, including promoting ‘going green’ to learners in their formative years,” adds Wilkinson.

The start of the new school year is also a time that many schools face the stark reality of a lack of funding and infrastructure problems, with a bigger number of learners to cater for.

Wilkinson comments: “Like businesses in our primary market – the commercial property sector – financial management has become a key responsibility for school principals, staff and governing bodies who, at times, have very few options at their disposal.”

Research done and reportage on the state of schools in the country convey a lack of funding, poor infrastructure, inadequate equipment and the sometimes dire state of school property, buildings and playgrounds.

The greening of schools offers a unique opportunity to address these issues and is an extraordinarily cost-effective way to enhance student learning, reduce health and operational costs and, ultimately, increase quality.

“As part of its mandate to not only promote green building development and innovation, but sustainable development, the GBCSA team engages with not just the commercial property sector. Many schools are already seeing the benefits of their green initiatives,” says Wilkinson.

“The key motivator of the GBCSA and the green building initiative is the fight against global warming, climate change and the effects that each of these are having on our planet. Moving beyond the commercial property sector, learning centres should provide prime opportunities for their inhabitants to not only do well on the school front, but, do good on the environmental front too,” he adds.

In the commercial property sector, green buildings have lower operating costs, are more efficient, future-proofed, provide a higher rate of return on investment and have been shown to promote wellness, healing and productivity.

Similarly, the GBCSA has seen positive results in the residential space, through its My Green Home challenge. The initiative saw the Ngewana family from Pinelands in Cape Town accept the challenge, with a complete green retrofit of their home. To date, electricity usage at their home has now fallen by 53%; water use by 44%; and, waste to landfill by 81%. This translates into a direct annual saving of about R 18,000.

“Imagine that R18 000 in the life of a poorly-resourced South African school,” says Wilkinson.

“Through encounters with those in our green network, we have found that there are green solutions that schools can implement in order to help them tackle their pressing budgetary needs.

“The benefits go beyond savings on utility costs at schools. Positive lessons the learners get to absorb through their exposure to green alternatives at school, creates an all-round win-win situation,” he adds.

“Green initiatives must be implemented at even more schools countrywide. Public schools in particular need to be empowered to be able to implement such initiatives, as many grapple with the dilemma of reducing their operating costs.

“Cost savings from going green can then be redirected to other important priorities such as better facilities and resources,” says Wilkinson.

The GBCSA is committed to promoting and facilitating greener and better buildings in the country in all sectors, and has made significant headway in the commercial property space. For a wider positive impact, the council recognises the need for greening schools as well as institutions of higher education.

Source: Environment Africa


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Seana Nkhahle takes over reins as Chairman of the Green Building Council of South Africa

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has appointed Seana Nkhahle from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) as its new Chairman.

Nkhahle, who is also a founding director of the GBCSA, takes over the reins from long-time Chairman Bruce Kerswill, who played a leading role in the formation of the council.

The GBCSA was established in 2007 to promote green building development in the country. It is a member of the World Green Building Council (World GBC) and is today one of the most active councils worldwide.

Nkhahle is an Executive Director at SALGA, responsible for ‘Corporate Strategy and Research’. Prior to this he was the Executive Manager and National Programmes Co-ordinator at the South African Cities Network from 2005 to 2009.

In both these roles he facilitated partnerships and support to selected municipalities to improve sustainability in their operations with particular emphasis on energy, water and land use management. Up to 2005, he was a managing Partner at Syn-Consult Africa, a consulting firm focusing mostly on sustainability on the built environment. Nkhahle is one of the founding members of the GBCSA board thus bringing institutional memory of the organisation and some important insights into the industry.

Nkhahle holds a Bsc (Hons) Town and Regional Planning from Wits University. In 2004 Nkhahle received a recognition award issued jointly by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. This was awarded for a toolkit he developed for assessing sustainability of housing projects. The toolkit formed the basis from which he was able to contribute towards the development of GBCSA’s rating tools.

GBCSA CEO, Brian Wilkinson, comments: “We are happy to welcome Seana Nkhahle on board as the council’s new Chairman. He brings with him extensive experience in terms of sustainability knowledge in his academic work as well as the work he has done in consulting and in local government.

Wilkinson praised the efforts of Kerswill in founding the council and his passion and commitment to creating awareness and promoting green building and sustainable development in South Africa.

“Kerswill is one of the country’s leading green building advocates and has helped put South Africa on the international map in terms of embracing green building, through the establishment of the GBCSA. He has gone on to become the chairperson of the World GBC and his leadership in transforming the building industry towards green is noteworthy. We thank Kerswill for his incredible work and know that he will continue to play a role in green building locally and internationally,” says Kerswill.

Commenting on his appointment, Nkhahle says he is looking forward to the opportunity of heading the board of the GBCSA and playing a meaningful role in transforming the building industry towards a greener future. He believes that enhancing sustainability in the built environment and urban development will enhance efficiency in South African towns and cities as well as those on the rest of the continent.

“I want to draw on my experience in sustainable urban development and local government in taking the GBCSA into the next phase of its journey. The council is at an important chapter, where green building is gradually gaining momentum. People, private companies and government are realising that managing climate change is becoming increasingly important and that green building is a crucial element to this effect.

An important milestone in the green building industry and a departure from previous debate is that while green building is crucial for climate change mitigation, it is equally important for financial purposes as green buildings yield better economic returns while at the same time improved liveability bodes well socially”.

The new chairperson’s goals are to consolidate the solid foundation that has been built by his predecessor and to enhance the scope and reach of the council. This includes ensuring that more commercial buildings are supported to achieve good ratings thus building on the momentum already seen in this category. Existing buildings which has the biggest building stock will also be a key target. Nkhahle anticipates supporting government and municipalities in particular to play a bigger role in facilitating sustainability in their respective built environments.


Image: African Design Magazine


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