First green precinct rating on the cards

by Ofentse Sefolo
First green precinct rating on the cards

Developers Abland and Tiber are targeting a Green Star certification for the entire Sandton Gate precinct under the Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA’s) new Green Star Sustainable Precincts Tool. To achieve this, each building in the precinct will have to attain a minimum 4-star Green Star rating.
Located on William Nicol Drive, Sandton Gate is a mixed-use development that will seamlessly integrate a planned 80 000m² of commercial space, 400 residential units, retail space and a variety of lifestyle and leisure amenities in a connected, green, pedestrian-friendly precinct. The first phase will break ground towards the end of 2017.

“It is crucial that cities grow in a sustainable manner,” says Marloes Reinink, founder and director of Solid Green, the green building consultant on Sandton Gate. “Cities today face numerous challenges, but at the same time they are nodes of opportunity to move green design beyond the building scale into the public realm.”

The Precincts Tool
The Green Star Sustainable Precincts Tool is based on the understanding that buildings do not exist in isolation, but are connected to their surrounding contexts by space, form, construction processes and the operational impacts over their lifespans. They therefore have the potential to contribute positively to the public realm and the quality of urban dwellers’ experiences.

Manfred Braune, the GBCSA’s executive director for certifications, explains: “The vision and focus of the Green Star Sustainable Precincts Tool is to create more sustainable neighbourhoods, precincts and communities by focusing on five critical components of urban planning, design and construction, namely governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation. The tool provides a framework for neighbourhood scale projects to align themselves to, and obtain third-party validation of their sustainable development credentials, according to international best practice that is locally relevant.”

Governance criteria that have been met include a design review process of the precinct’s site plan and urban design framework addressing density, urban form and integration within the existing urban fabric, liveability, productivity and sustainability, and custodianship of the framework. All buildings will be required to adhere to design guidelines set out by the professional team and the developer, which will further the project’s design and sustainability objectives into the future.

The precinct will have its own app through which users can access information about the precinct, including its sustainability initiatives. In addition, building occupants will have the opportunity to be part of a precinct governance structure that will oversee the management and organisation of the public and community facilities in the precinct.

The precinct is holistically designed for healthy and active living, and includes important aspects of walkability, integrated with opportunities for physical transport, good wayfinding signage and human scale public spaces.

One of Sandton Gate’s strengths is its connection to the city’s public transport systems. Pick-up points are placed within walkable distance from activity nodes, and pedestrian-friendly design encourages a greater use of bicycles, motorcycles and walking as daily modes of transportation – with “complete streets” including bicycle paths, appropriately sized sidewalks, resting places and shading.

In addition, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles will be employed in the urban design to improve safety and security without creating hard boundaries – such as natural access control to restrict access to certain areas, and passive public surveillance.

A community development plan will describe the precinct vision and address issues identified through stakeholder engagement, and a community development officer will oversee the implementation of this plan, disseminate relevant community information and organise community events.

Economic prosperity
The developers will undertake a study to determine the net percentage increase in the number of jobs generated in the area.

The utilisation of green open space as a productive component of the urban environment is also a valuable feature in the precinct, and the section of the Braamfontein Spruit facing the development will be rehabilitated as a public park open to the wider community as well as Sandton Gate residents.

The precinct further aims to reduce peak electricity demand through the mix of office and residential uses, leading to electricity demand at different times of the day, and free Wi-Fi will be available in public spaces.

A major contributor to the environment category is the fact that Sandton Gate is located on a brownfield site and will redevelop previously developed land. Furthermore, a waste management plan for dealing with the precinct’s operational waste will include initiatives such as a public place recycling scheme, a residential recycling scheme, hazardous waste collection or disposal services, and contracted service providers to deal with precinct composting and green waste.

All buildings within the precinct will be encouraged to use passive design techniques for climate control, and to incorporate building materials, technologies and design strategies that are resource efficient, environmentally friendly and preferably renewable.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Solid Green Consulting for the information supplied.

Caption: A render of the Sandton Gate development.
Courtesy of Boogertman + Partners

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