A recent spike in green building certifications has seen South Africa reach a milestone of 50 Green Star SA certifications.
After steering the commercial property sector towards a greener future for a mere six years, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has awarded 50 certifications, of which 20 ratings were awarded in 2013 alone.
The past months have seen an exponential increase in the number of buildings that have been certified or which have applied for certification, according to Brian Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the GBCSA.
“The GBCSA could not have achieved the success it has to date without the support of some very big players in the sector that have pioneered the way to a better place for people and the planet. The support has been widespread, but of most significance is the take up of Green Star SA by government bodies and big businesses such as banks and property developers,” says Wilkinson.
Nine government buildings have been certified to date, and these include one of the only three six-star buildings to be certified so far in South Africa.
“As the largest owner and operator of property, the government plays an influential leadership role in accelerating sustainability in the built environment. It is very exciting to see the impressive line-up of Green Star SA rated buildings, which clearly indicates the government’s buy-in to green building practices,” Wilkinson states.
Commercially an intelligent decision
According to construction company McGraw and Hills’ World Green Building Trend Survey (2013), 51% of South African firms expect to be building green by 2015 – most notably in the commercial markets.
Especially organisations within the financial sector are embracing green buildings as they have recognised that investments in green buildings can produce measureable financial value, such as increased rental rates and asset value, reduced risk of depreciation, and higher tenant attraction and retention rates.
Property developers who have considered utility costs increases, potential carbon taxes and stricter regulations when it comes to rental premises, have also recognised that green buildings can fetch lease premiums and retain tenants for longer than conventional buildings. South African tenants are increasingly demanding green buildings as they provide a healthier and more productive indoor environment, and also reduce the consumption of energy and other resources.
“Developers have identified that there are clear environmental benefits for building green as well as a compelling business case. Going green is not just about the environment,” explains Wilkinson. “The bottom-line benefits of building and operating green buildings are particularly important considering South Africa’s rising energy costs and water scarcity – coupled with lower risks, improvements to employee productivity and ultimately, better investment returns and higher property valuations.”
Today green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings and, with the right design features, create a more productive workplace.
“We are absolutely thrilled by the uptake in green building in South Africa. We are confident that this upward spike will continue as an ongoing trend,” concludes Wilkinson.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the Green Building Council of South Africa for the information given to write this article.
The GBCSA’s series of Green Star SA rating tools sets the standards for green building. It allows for the following levels of achievement:
• Four-star Green Star SA Certification – Best practice.
• Five-star Green Star SA Certification – South African excellence.
• Six-star Green Star SA Certification – World leadership.