By: Annelide Sherratt and edited by Karen Eicker

In May 2017, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) launched its Green Star Sustainable Precinct Pilot Rating tool, which takes the focus beyond just rating individual buildings to include the design and operational infrastructure of an entire precinct, thus making a difference at a larger scale. “I believe that Sustainable Precinct Certifications represent the beginning of the first true response to climate change at a large scale and encourage us to design for pedestrian focused urban environments,” says Annelide Sherratt, Sustainable Building Consultant at Solid Green.

Solid Green was contracted by the GBCSA to complete the local context report, evaluating the Australian Green Star Communities v1.1. tool and developing a contextually relevant version for South Africa. To date, two projects are demonstrating leadership in the industry by having registered and submitted documentation to achieve Sustainable Precinct Certifications – Garden Cities, the first Residential Precinct Estate now certified; and Sandton Gate, which will be the first mixed-use precinct development.

The tool consists of four categories: Governance, Liveability, Economic Prosperity and Environment. Projects may also apply for credits under an additional category, ‘Innovation’, by deploying various unique precinct-wide sustainability initiatives that are not already covered within the tool.

The new Sandton Gate Precinct, strategically located on William Nicol Drive within minutes of Sandton, Hyde Park, Rosebank and Bryanston, is targeting a 4-Star Green Star Sustainable Precinct Pilot Certification, which is recognized as Best Practice and equal to 45 weighted points that are implemented through initiatives throughout the four categories. Construction on the precinct started with bulk earthworks on 3 April 2018, the main contractor started on site on 1 July 2018, and practical completion for the whole precinct is targeted for June 2027.

Photo courtesy of Boogertman & Partners

Sandton Gate Precinct: delving deeper

The project is a redevelopment of a number of brownfield residential sites including an existing road, Minerva Avenue, and existing streetlights. The new development will consist of seven mixed commercial developments and three phases of residential developments. In line with the global precedent to provide walkable urban environments, the precinct aims to provide a street hierarchy for the safe and convenient movement of pedestrians. This is done by introducing ‘right-of-way’ pedestrian walkways and cyclist paths throughout the precinct.

Minerva Avenue will be upgraded with pedestrian-focused, traffic calming speed humps and widening of the road; and two new access roads linking to Minerva Avenue will be incorporated. Energy efficient streetlights and bollard lights will be provided, together with street furniture, landscaping and artistic water features on the podium deck within the precinct boundary. Over and above this, the precinct is upgrading the adjacent public park, providing landscaped rehabilitation of softworks, cycle paths, and a community food garden for all to use.

The vision of the developers, Abland and Tiber, is to create “a world-class, mixed-use precinct that offers a lifestyle worth aspiring to: city living with all the benefits of suburban life. The precinct overlooks the Braamfontein Spruit, one of Johannesburg’s longest natural greenbelts, while being on the doorstep of South Africa’s financial CBD. Less traffic, better business and all-round smarter living.”

Mixed use developments

The precinct has incorporated site-wide green infrastructure and a pedestrian and cyclist bridge will be introduced to link the adjacent park to the precinct. The architects have linked the whole precinct through a semi-public podium level that connects all the mixed-used buildings and will be open to the public during business hours. The design intent for the location of the pedestrian entrances to the precinct is to activate the building courtyards at podium level. The mixed-use nature of the precinct reduces the need for residents to commute and they will be able to do all their shopping, go to the gym, and work within walking distance of their homes.

The Green Star certification for the whole precinct under the GBCSA’s Sustainable Precincts tool will be submitted for its Round 2 assessment at the end of April 2019. Additionally, each commercial building in the precinct will be required to attain a minimum 4-Star Green Star Office v1.1 rating for the building itself. Currently the first commercial building, Sandton Gate phase I, will also be submitting its round 2 submission at the end of April 2019.

Photo courtesy of Boogertman & Partners

Expert opinion

“In my view, the most important benefit of sustainable precincts to cities and city dwellers is the sense of being connected, having access and belonging – whether through continuous walkable networks or digital services,” says Annelide. “A successful precinct makes everyone feel like they belong. In addition to activating the public spaces in and around the precinct, Sandton Gate has also developed the Sandton Gate App for all occupants and users to stay up to date on community activities, be informed on carpooling opportunities, and be educated on what makes the precinct sustainable and how they can further contribute to this in their daily activities.”

Finally, developing a Sustainable Precinct is a process that is only possible thanks to the forward thinking and dedication of clients, developers, professional design team members and suppliers who, on a daily basis, commit to furthering a fully sustainable built environment for current and future generations. “We look forward to Sandton Gate being one of the first mixed-used sustainable precincts to be certified in Africa,” Annelide concludes.

For more information visit https://sandtongate.co.za/

Solid Green Consulting
Tel: 011 447 2797
Website: www.solidgreen.co.za

Main image: The mixed-use nature of the precinct seamlessly integrates commercial, residential
and retail space with a number of lifestyle amenities in a connected, green, pedestrian-friendly precinct. Photo courtesy of Boogertman & Partners

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