Alice Lane in Sandton is now home to a four-star Green Star SA-rated office after the developer, Abland, received certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Sandton’s select address, Alice Lane, is now home to a four-star Green Star SA-rated office after the developer, Abland, received certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) for the design of their prestigious Sandton project.

Located in the heart of Sandton, with easy access to the Gautrain station, malls, embassies, hotels and offices, the new green building forms part of Abland’s larger R1-billion mixed-use development on Alice Lane, which will include three phases.

Marloes Reinink, Solid Green’s owner and consultant, explains that Abland, in conjunction with the future tenants of the building, started with the Green Star SA certification early on in the design process, making it a less complicated process to implement.

The development of the Alice Lane site will involve the construction of three new office towers linked by a central landscaped piazza – a pedestrian-friendly, naturally greened environment. A first for the Sandton area, it will be an asset to tenants and visitors. Notably, it incorporates convenience and service retail, such as a bank, restaurants, hairdressers, dry cleaners and convenience food outlets.

The first 18 000m2 building, on Fredman Drive, is under construction and will be complete and occupied by August this year. The second building, situated on the Alice Lane side of the property, will be 16 000m2 and will be ready for occupation in September 2014. The third and final building on the property will be on the prime Alice Lane and Fifth Street corner.

Janet Glendinning, Abland’s project manager, says: “Abland is very proud of having achieved this Green Star SA rating, and has committed to constructing the second and third buildings at Alice Lane as Green Star SA buildings, to create the first Green Star rated precinct in the area.”
Green lease unlocks benefits

The building will also be one of the first in South Africa to negotiate a “green lease”, which is vital to ensure that green buildings live up to their promise and operate at optimum levels. Reinink notes that developing a green lease is a significant achievement – particularly since there are numerous and diverse parties involved, including developers, tenants, facilities managers and lawyers.

From the outset, all involved in the development were aware of their role and the benefits they would derive from the green building. For example, the tenants will save significantly on operational costs, such as electricity, water and maintenance, over the duration of their lease. An independent commissioning agent will ensure that the building performs optimally.

Green features
Location to amenities such as public transport, and facilities within the building, such as the gym and coffee shops, play a significant role in achieving the Green Star SA rating, as this makes transport (with its associated emissions) and access to the building more efficient.

The building boasts green features such as energy-efficient lighting and air-conditioning systems, and is designed in such a way that a maximum amount of natural light is let into the building, as well as affording as many occupants as possible external views from their desks.

The building is also located on a brownfield site, and did not require the disturbance of previously-unused land for construction. During construction, processes such as waste management and recycling are closely monitored, and upon completion of the building the landlord and tenants will recycle the waste generated in the operation of the building. The offices will be finished with paints, adhesives and carpets that are low in volatile organic compounds, thus making it a healthier space to work in.

GBCSA milestone
The awarding of Abland’s Green Star SA certification brings the number of certifications awarded by the GBCSA to 30 – another milestone signalling the transition of green building into the mainstream in South Africa.

Established in 2007, it has taken the GBCSA time and effort to gain momentum, but a tipping point has been reached, and the number of Green Star SA certifications has doubled every year since 2009 year-on-year.

Considering the number of developments registered for certification, the GBCSA looks forward to increasing the total number of certifications in South Africa to 60 by the end of 2013. Manfred Braune, the GBCSA’s technical executive, emphasises: “The 30 certifications achieved to date have made a significant difference to the built environment in South Africa.”  

In addition to the environmental, indoor environmental quality and cost-saving benefits of these buildings, each of the 30 certifications has had project teams of at least 20 people. This means that a growing number of professionals are gaining experience in design, building and submitting, according to Green Star SA standards.

Over 3 000 people have attended educational courses run by the GBCSA, and there are now more than 400 Green Star SA accredited professionals in South Africa.

Braune notes that the quality of Green Star SA submissions has improved significantly over the last two years. Many consultants are now submitting for the second and third time, and have taken on board lessons from previous submissions.

“Organisations have set up their own internal systems to help with the quality of submissions, making a significant difference. Consultants that understand Green Star SA well have developed systems that respond adequately to this, and their Green Star SA scores reflect this,” Braune adds.

The combined dedication of the GBCSA, property developers such as Abland, and accredited professionals in the form of consultants, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and contractors means that South Africa is transforming and lessening the impact of the built environment on the natural environment, and enhancing the quality of life, whilst making greater business sense.

Full acknowledgement and thanks are given to Abland and the Green Building Council of South Africa for providing the information to write this article.