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‘Traditional buildings’ go green

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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