Solid Green Consulting has successfully facilitated 20 Green Star SA certifications with the Menlyn Maine Pegasus building marking this milestone.
Menlyn Maine Pegasus received a 4 Star Green Star SA – Office v1 Rating from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) on 22 September 2015. Solid Green consulting was founded in 2010 by Marloes Reinink and is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. The company completed its 10th certification in December 2014, four years after it was formed.
In 2015 another 10 ratings have been achieved. These Green Star SA ratings include Design and As-Built ratings for New Office buildings, a Public Education building, a Multi-unit Residential building, Office Interior ratings and Existing Building Performance ratings. The Menlyn Maine Pegasus project is an important landmark to celebrate the company doubling its output over the last year.
Manfred Braune, Chief Technical Officer at the GBCSA says: ‘The GBCSA congratulates Solid Green on achieving this significant milestone and for becoming a leading consulting firm in the green building sector, having been responsible for a very significant proportion of the 130 Green Star SA certifications to date. It is organisations such as Solid Green that are key enablers, working with the GBCSA, to transform the built environment into a more sustainable one. ‘
Menlyn Maine Pegasus was the very first building registered with the GBCSA for a Green Star SA Rating in 2009. It is a located on the corner of January Masilela Drive and Amarand Avenue, Pretoria and will house Regus and BMW amongst others. The developers of Menlyn Maine have their sights set on certifying all the buildings in the precinct. Menlyn Maine has brought together a group of professionals who are already well versed in sustainable building design and construction in order to make a green precinct possible.
Pegasus includes passive design initiatives such as using the building orientation and sizing of the floor plates for optimal daylight in the building, and using the site and building hard surfaces to collect rainwater. Sustainability initiatives have been drawn through design into construction by, for example, making use of coated glazing for improved thermal control, concrete with reduced cement content and recycled steel in the rebar. Building services are optimised to improve building performance and to reduce energy and water consumption which in turn is actively monitored by a Building Management System (BMS).
Solid Green Consulting is a sustainable building consultancy based in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Over and above green building consulting services, Solid Green has also developed building energy monitoring solutions through Solid Insight and building energy modelling services.
Green building has become a no-brainer, as South Africa’s energy crisis worsens with no indication of abating and rolling power outages now seemingly a part of daily life.
The general consensus among industry players was that green buildings were a nice-to-have and the perceived high capital requirements of sustainable building would erode returns.
How times have changed for green buildings to now being the standard for quality real estate in the country.
As associate and sustainability consultant at WSP Africa Alison Groves puts it: “The uptake of the green movement in South Africa has been exponential [and] there is a deep understanding of the benefits of green building.”
In fact, United States-based McGraw-Hill Construction in its World Green Building Trends survey supports Groves’ views. South Africa’s adoption of green building, according to the survey, trumps most developed regions which include Europe, Australia, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Brazil.
While South Africa is only playing catch-up to its developed and developing counters, the survey pegs the country’s take up of green building to grow three-fold, from a measured 16% in 2012 to 52% by 2015.
“The future for green building is more concentrated in South Africa compared to other parts of the world… Notably, South Africa is one of the only countries with a high reported level of green activity in the residential marketplace,” the survey notes.
When South Africa’s green building movement started in 2007, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) only certified one building and years later 100 buildings are currently certified.
Despite the country’s progress, most financial institutions are only now beginning to tap into this market by offering capital for green developments and retrofitting initiatives (conversions of buildings built to traditional standards). Property developments by nature are capital intensive and most developers rely largely on financial institutions.
Associate in banking and finance at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright Rorisang Mongoato says property financiers are still using mainstream lending practices, as financing green buildings is not a separate activity from their overall focus.
“Banks are not that sophisticated in green building, as most don’t have dedicated green building divisions. They need to tweak their transactions in financing a green building,” Mongoato says.
She says most financial institutions don’t have the requisite skills in the form of green building professionals who understand the rating system for green buildings, requirements of green buildings compared with conventional buildings and incentives for energy efficient buildings.
Despite these setbacks, she says financial institutions are cognisant of having green building and funding solutions for developers, but she stresses that “it is still early days and a work in progress.”
In the interim, many green building or retrofit projects are being bankrolled by property developers, says GBCSA CEO Brian Wilkinson.
“We have seen most retrofits funded by tenants or owners. The private sector seems to be leading the market with some property developers and property owners applying a green mandate to their businesses with visible returns on their investments,” Wilkinson told Moneyweb.
Implementing energy efficient initiatives, such as replacing conventional light systems with energy efficient lighting, upgrading chillers, investing in rain harvesting technology, waste disposal, solar panel heating, can translate into higher returns on a building.
“Investment in off-grid or co-generation is really starting to take hold as such projects increase their commercial value in the face of the electricity crisis,” Wilkinson says.
Also green buildings are allowing developers to reap the rewards of having lower operating costs, increased productivity and tenant retention as they usually favour energy efficient buildings, says Groves.
Groves adds: “Tenants understand that they would rather pay more in their square metres and reduce their risks in terms of energy costs. Those tenants are demanding green buildings because they see the benefits of going green.”
However, the focus among financiers has been on independent power producers, with the public and private sector looking to grow this market.
The South African government’s Department of Environmental Affairs has opened a brand new head office in Pretoria that exemplifies its approach to sustainable building, including the country’s National Climate Change Response Policy.
The building, which is 6 Green Star SA Office Design rated, is designed with the aim of capping energy consumption at 115kWh/m2 per year, 20% of which comes from the solar photovoltaic panels that cover the roof. A concentrated photovoltaic panel in the car park also tracks the sun in order to provide solar-powered charging stations for electric cars.
The design also makes use of rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, and water-saving indigenous plants, in order to reduce water consumption by 30%.
In order to incentivise low energy consumption, the building also operates a “green lease” with it maintenance contractors, which monitors performance and introduces penalties if the building consumes more than planned.
“This landmark new Green Building represents a major commitment by the government to green building and sustainable development. We welcome the green leadership shown,” commented Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the government-affiliated Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA).
“For any building to achieve a 6-star rating is a feat that should be celebrated because of the high standard of green building design and construction applied. For a government building, this is a precedent setting move by the leadership of our country and is quite a progressive demonstration of consciousness for the green movement.”
Source: Intelligent Building Today
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