Going green is hip…and happening

It’s not been quite 10 years, but in that time 200 buildings and eight interior spaces have achieved Green Star SA (GSSA) certifications from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA).

It’s quite a leap from the single certification issued in 2009 and the six years it took to get to the 100 mark. The movement is exhibiting exponential growth, the last 108 certifications issued in a mere 15 months.

Behind the acceleration could be the 300%-odd increase in energy costs in the last five years one of them, and the realisation that – despite the upfront premium of going green – it made good business sense with both energy and financial rewards to be had.

“Just because you spend more doesn’t mean your forward yield is dropping. You can spend 5% more, have a higher return and lower your operating costs,” explains Rudolf Pienaar, deputy chairperson of the GBCSA and director of the World Green Building Council.

Green impact

Today, the 2.8m square metres (equivalent to 400 rugby fields) of GBCSA certified space has saved 336m kilograms of carbon emissions (equivalent to taking 84 000 cars off the road) and 260m litres of water, the latter equating to the daily water consumption of 100m people.

Annual electricity saving is 280m kilowatt hours, equivalent to powering 19 500 households for a year.  

Greening South Africa

Green building in SA accounts for 41% of building project activity against a 24% global average. In total, 61% of building projects are expected to be green by 2018 against a global average of 37%.  

The Dodge Data Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report found that South Africa has the highest green share currently of any country in the study and could become a leader in the green building sector within three years, says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA.

The bulk of the country’s green buildings fall within the commercial property sector. Given the financial rewards on offer, SA’s real estate investment trusts (Reits) have embraced the greening movement. Some, like Redefine Properties, can boast 13 certifications. Growthpoint Properties owns or co-owns the largest portfolio of Green Star SA certified buildings, 50 in total.

In the public sector 13 buildings have received GBCSA certification and all 278 municipalities in the country now GBCSA members.  

The residential sector is also making major green inroads, 2 382 green homes earmarked for EDGE certification (the residential rating tool) while another 5 000 are targeting certification.

The next phase of the journey is achieving scale, with GBCSA’s bold targets for 2020 being to have 12 000 trained green property professionals and 10 000 certified residential homes.

But it is the 2 500 commercial green buildings goal by this date that perhaps speaks to an approach that is not about one building but a portfolio of buildings.  

“There are Reits that are right now approaching Green Building certification at a portfolio level,” says Wilkinson. “Some organisations have made a commitment to certify their entire portfolio, and that is how we will reach that 2 500 mark.”

Growthpoint have embraced sustainability at portfolio level, its last submission an unprecedented 28 projects for Green Star Existing Building Performance rating.   

Redefine Properties too has committed to achieving at least a 4-Green Star rating on all its developments.

Emira Property Fund has a multiple asset pipeline for new building GSSA certification and has just completed a successful pilot project that replaces harmful R22 refrigerant gases used in air-conditioning with an environmentally friendly alternative. The company has committed to eliminating the use of R22 refrigerant gases in its South African properties.

This is a shortened version of an article that originally appeared in the 13 October edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here

Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1745 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 2281 votes
My finances have been devastated
35% - 3423 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2468 votes