New legislation requires SA buildings to display energy performance certificate
Recently gazetted regulations published by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy now make it compulsory for non-residential buildings in South Africa to declare their energy consumption by displaying an energy performance certificate at the entrance of their buildings. Building owners have until December 2022 to comply with these new building energy regulations, which require a formal assessment of your building energy consumption.
According to David Petrie, Technical Manager (Utilities) at FM Solutions Technical, these directives form part of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy under the National Energy Act, 2008 (Act No.34 of 2008), aimed at improving the country’s energy consumption. This process will determine the amount of energy that a specific building is allowed to consume per square metre. Similar energy performance certificate systems are currently in operation in the EU and the UK, where it was launched in 2007.
“It is important to note that the new legislation does not apply to factories and manufacturing plants. It applies to offices and public spaces, i.e. buildings that are used for entertainment and public assembly, theatrical and indoor sports activities as well as places of instruction,” Petrie explains.
These include schools, malls, theatres and places of work that are bigger than 2,000 square metres. Government buildings larger than 1,000 square metres must also comply with the new legislation. Buildings that have been in operation for less than 2 years, or have been subject to a major renovation within the past 2 years are exempted. Moreover, the new regulation stipulates that there are certain areas that can be excluded from the calculations, such as garages, car parks and storage areas.
“An Energy Performance Certificate, similar to those displayed on household appliances, must be issued by an accredited body in accordance with SANS 1544:2014 – Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings. This certificate must rank the energy rating (ER) of a building on a performance scale (A-G). This is to the maximum energy consumption (kWh/m²/a) per building type as per the SANS 10400 XA,” he says.
The certificate must be issued by a SANAS accredited body and be submitted to the South African National Energy Development Institute. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy will appoint inspectors to audit buildings for certificate compliance and validity. The certificates will be valid for a period of five years
As specialists in energy efficiency and energy management, FM Solutions Technical are regularly called upon by their clients to conduct the energy assessments. Petrie explains that this is not a one-size-fits all approach, as there are various important factors that need to be taken into consideration, including the physical location and the climatic zone of the premises, history of energy usage, size of the building and nature of the business.
“It is important to regularly conduct a detailed energy audit to identify the biggest electricity users. This allows landlords and tenants to consider replacing them with alternatives that would be more efficient and unlock significant savings in the long run. For this reason, we encourage organisations to adopt the new legislation as an opportunity to implement good practices that would benefit their bottom line and improve overall efficiencies,” he concludes.
For more information on how FM Solutions Technical can assist with Regulations for the Mandatory Display and Submission of Energy Performance Certificates for Buildings, visit www.fm-solutions.co.zaView more
Commercial property trends in Africa: Designed for resilience, built to be future-proofed
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has seen three major trends emerge as drivers of investment in Africa’s Commercial Property space. Though this sector has certainly taken a big knock, and commercial office space is still slow to recover, according to Peter Hodgkinson, Managing Director, WSP, Building Services, Africa, the company is seeing positive activity in light industrial property, data centres, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and even in hospitality, throughout Africa.Continue reading View more
Property sector continues to show its resilience in face of latest lockdown
By Nkuli Bogopa, COO Property Management, Broll Property Group
Numerous office buildings are up for sale but this has been going on for a while. The fact that a number of retail centres are also on the market is evidence that listed funds are under pressure and offloading assets as a result. This is part of a larger cyclical process that has created a new wave of investors in a buyer’s market. Combined with favourable interest rates, movement is being generated in the sector, and there are new players in the game.
While retailers are largely in a hybrid mode, with some open and others closed, the third wave combined with the Level 4 lockdown remains a major cause for concern in the office sector, as people are more concerned about their health than ever due to the more transmissible Delta variant. The concern is palpable, and offices are obviously not the place where people want to be right now. Employers are also having to be guided by the regulations, with the lockdown dictating that we keep people out of office spaces.
This is obviously going to affect rental income. I have not seen any major shift in terms of the investor landscape. Many investors did the hard work last year in terms of rental adjustments and discounts, which was done with a long-term view, so this is still in place to assist our tenants. This was part of the lessons learnt from the initial hard lockdown.
No one has been prepared for the duration of the pandemic. We were all disrupted at the outset and the resultant concern about the impact of Covid-19, but the current uncertainty has been brought about by the fact that we do not realistically know when the pandemic is going to end. From an operational point of view, we did very well in collaborating with our broader stakeholders last year, including the government and the private sector.
The message from the President that we are to avoid enclosed spaces, keep our masks on and follow all of the necessary regulations and protocols remains paramount. In terms of the malls we manage, we are sanitising at a higher frequency than usual. People have become used to the fact that every retail shop has protocols to be observed. We are seeing a great deal of cooperation, and that should remain the norm.
Real estate service providers, such as ourselves, who are at the forefront of managing these properties are keeping up to date with the latest developments such as clean-air sanitising technology as an option to ensure our malls remain safe spaces. We are cognisant that this still does not remove the fear factor.
Both our super-regional and strip malls rely heavily on anchor tenants and the restaurant trade, which has now been shuttered again by the lockdown. Retailers will opt to remain open if not compelled to do otherwise. We are noticing a higher rate of Covid-19 infections among retail staff. Restauranteurs are reporting that takeaway or home delivery is not a viable option in terms of cost, so are rather opting to do with less staff. It is unsure how the current scenario will play out in the broader retail and clothing sector.
I have always maintained that in order to ensure a sustainable lifeline for these businesses, they require both an online and an offline presence. A good balance between these two is essential. The half-year results of some listed funds point to the encouraging fact that, in South Africa, the rural and township retail sector has shown the greatest resilience, and even a better performance when benchmarked against similar countries like Spain, where a latest study there revealed that consumers there prefer to come in-store rather than purchase online.
My message to tenants is that the collaborative spirit kindled at the beginning of this pandemic must prevail. Landlords and managing agents continue to evince extraordinary empathy for the economic hardship that has ensued, while professional organisations like the South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) continue to lobby for municipal rates and taxes to be contained so that these additional costs do not have to be passed onto tenants. Collaboration between the government and private sector is vital. The government has to meet private investors halfway because ultimately our tenants are going to be the hardest hit. In this regard, it is sincerely hoped that the government will also consider relief measures for those sectors most affected by the latest lockdown measures, especially as this will have a knock-on effect on the entire economy.
Q&A with Elaine Wilson, Divisional Director, Property Intel, Broll Property Group
What do the statistics reveal about foot traffic in shopping malls since the move to an adjusted Level 4 lockdown?
As can be seen from the June figures, there has been a definite decline. However, this can be expected with the closure of food and beverage outlets and gyms. Looking at year-on-year for June, only regional centres show an increase from last year.
Has this changed significantly from the first hard lockdown?
Compared to April 2020, foot traffic increased in community centres by 51.2%, 68.2% in small regional centres and 111.7% in regional centres. This can be expected, as only essential services were open during hard lockdown.
How has buying behaviour changed as a result of lockdown restrictions over the past year-and-a-half?
Basket spend has increased, but this can be attributed due to rising prices. Food prices continue to skyrocket. Sunflower cooking oil now costs customers 30.3% more than a year ago, while white sugar has increased by 11.5%. Global food prices have also recorded their fastest growth rate in more than a decade.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations reported a 4.8% increase in May 2021, its highest value since September 2011. Impacted by the rise in fuel and electricity tariffs, these costs are set to continue to rise, impacting the entire economy and placing further downward pressure on consumer spending.
Online retail in South Africa has more than doubled over the last two years. It increased by 66% in 2020 at a value of R30.2 billion, compared to R14.1 billion in 2018. Currently, online retail represents 2.8% of total retail sales, up from 1.4% in 2018.
How is Level 4 expected to impact consumer confidence?
During hard lockdown, consumer confidence dropped. However, we have seen an increase in Q2 2021 to a six-year high. The new restrictions may lead to a similar drop in consumer confidence as last year, albeit not to the same extent.
Consumers remain under pressure and will remain so due to the UIF-Covid19 TERS relief programme coming to an end, rising fuel and electricity prices, food inflation and below-inflation adjustments to social grants. This will continue to put household finances of not only low-income consumers but consumers in general under significant pressure.
What are the latest statistics on trading densities?
Overall, trading densities decreased by around -6.4% after the outbreak of the pandemic. The highest drop in trading density is in entertainment (-56.1%), followed by services (-30.6%), with only homeware, furniture and interior showing positive growth (7.0%). Looking at the secondary retail categories, pharmacies and personal care increased by 4.8% and groceries/supermarkets by 5.1%.
Hobby stores and tattoo parlours showed the biggest rise in trading density at 10.0% and 28.5% respectively. It is interesting to note the rise in not only essential services, but also in home entertainment and in drive-throughs (6.0%).View more
Affordable housing opportunities in Kenya buoyed by govt spend and developer incentives
Buoyed by significant government investment in the 2021-22 national budget, combined with attractive incentives for private developers, the affordable housing sector in Kenya is well set to provide attractive opportunities to investors. This is according to Vivian Ombwayo, Director of Research and Valuation at Broll Kenya.Continue reading View more
The Ridge: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Cape Town’s newest 6-star Green Star Design awarded commercial building, the Ridge in the V&A Waterfront, has opened and its tenant, Deloitte South Africa, is trading from inside its unique spaces.
The Ridge deploys some of the most advanced sustainable building technology available globally, as well as original blue-sky thinking. It was born from the V&A Waterfront’s vision to set new standards for the future of commercial office buildings. The final design was the result of the creative inputs of the project’s multi-disciplinary design team, which worked closely together.
Over the past decade, the Waterfront has blazed a trail of sustainable development, rewarded with Green Star accreditations by the Green Building Council of South Africa. Individual buildings include the Allan Gray building at No.1 Silo, the Watershed and No.5 Silo, all 6-Star Green Star buildings plus a number of other firsts that include the former Grain Silo which became Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) and the boutique Silo Hotel, as well as No.6 Silo incorporating the Radisson Red (the first 5-star Green Star hotel).
David Green, the CEO of the V&A Waterfront, explains that this project showcases the capabilities of the Waterfront as a developer in providing custom-designed office or mixed-use accommodation to the highest standard in line with the needs of the customer.
”The Ridge and our other developments provide a working example as to how it can be done for companies that are looking to the future of their businesses in a sustainable way with a focus on both environmental performance and the greatest asset a company has: its people.”
“This development represents the confidence that our company and its shareholders have in the future of Cape Town as a destination and our confidence in South Africa itself,” he says.
Vusi Nondo, the executive manager for development at the V&A Waterfront explains that the Ridge has been an important milestone for the Waterfront in its rollout of bespoke office space, mixed-use and retail offerings.
“It has been said that working from an office post-Covid-19 will never be the same again – worldwide. Of course, that’s true, but long prior to the pandemic, the Waterfront development team identified a healthy office space that looks after the wellness of employees as being of paramount importance to any business.
“Armed with a development approach we consider as ‘Our Normal’, we’ve implemented people-centred innovations in all our bespoke developments. These promote a healthy work environment, help in combating sick building syndrome and low-carbon modes of transport. These include pedestrian footpaths, bicycle routes/parks, outdoor greened relaxation areas, and even food gardens,” he adds.
The Waterfront’s development director and project leader for the Ridge, Mark Noble, explains why the office work experience is exceptional and how the Ridge’s bespoke features set it apart from other commercial buildings.
“We designed the Ridge to be a world-class living, breathing building by incorporating a number of standout features, some of which are firsts for South Africa:
Air quality. The building operates on a mixed-mode interior climate control system, which includes the following features:
“Natural ventilation, which significantly raises the indoor air quality and is controlled by the occupants. This means that office workers may open the windows to let in fresh air for up to 80% of the year-round.
“An impressive atrium runs from ground to the third level of the building. Referred to as the ‘central street’, it helps to pull air through the building, in through the windows and out through the roof lights, while also bringing many other benefits to workers and visitors inside the building.”
Minimal HVAC (air conditioning) usage. The building incorporates passive (non-energy consuming) temperature control mechanisms several of which are unique. “A virtual sum of parts that leads to a greater whole,” attests Noble.
The zigzag-shaped engineered timber façade ingeniously orientates the glass windows towards the north or south, which prevents lower angle sun from the east or west from entering the office spaces. This provides natural daylight while reducing glare and patches of hot sunlight. “This has a major impact in promoting both fresh air quality and the saving of energy,” Noble explains.
Thermally Activated Building System Technology (TABS). “TABS is installed into the soffits (ceilings) above the working areas of the building and this cools the concrete structure by means of water circulating from the chiller and heat pumps on the roof. The cooler soffit hence cools the air below, which circulates around the workspace. TABS is another important contributor to the mixed-mode climate control system at work inside the building,” he adds.
All these measures mean that people inside the building will experience steady indoor ambient temperatures that respond slowly to outdoor temperature variations. The mixed-mode system design aims for the building’s conventional air conditioning system to be active for only 20% of the year. This is in line with international standards such as WELL™, in promoting occupant productivity and thermal comfort.
Development Manager for V&A Waterfront, Kirsten Goosen, comments on the other features that add to the total experience of the building as an occupant:
“People connectivity is enhanced by the central street (atrium). Apart from the areas where rational fire or acoustic design required the atrium to be enclosed in a few places, it mainly allows the free movement of building occupants on each level. Hence, informal connections can occur among building occupants and their visitors.
“Lighting includes the impressive roof lights above the atrium which allow optimal levels of natural light. This adds to conventional lighting on each floor. Low-energy LED lighting is suspended between acoustic panels to provide a stimulating work environment while the panels provide appropriate levels of sound absorption for work.”
World-class interior fit-out and a focus on the occupant
Since practical completion of the building late in 2020, the Deloitte-appointed interior design firm, Paragon Interface was on site, transforming the building’s extraordinary spaces by means of a world-class interior fit-out. Workplace strategist and Paragon Interface Director, Claire D’Adorante, comments that the client’s requirement was for a work environment that emulates the very high standard set by its global client.
“This means that the brief was distilled down to facilitating the way of working within the company to be in line with that of the global Deloitte brand, its corporate identity and also utilising brand intrinsic such as the use of colour. The work areas, desk sharing and layout are customisable to agile working,” D’Adorante outlines.
“Collaborative work opportunities and spaces exist throughout the building, which also has an ‘activated’ atrium edge. In addition, the interior features an active working corridor and workspace. Pause or meditation spaces are balanced with social and entertainment areas, with modern facilities available for use by the office staff”.
INTERVIEWS WITH THE LEADING TEAM MEMBERS
Mark Noble, Development Director, V&A Waterfront
“The façade on the top two floors of the building is constructed from locally sourced cross-laminated mass timber together with the more standard glass and aluminium panels in a unitised system. This is a very significant feature.
“Using timber as both the structural façade element as well as the internal and external finish, we believe is a genuine first for South Africa and one that has contributed significantly both to the overall architecture as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint of the building by 60 tonnes CO2 (equivalent) from the atmosphere.”
The Ridge also forms the hub of a broader mixed-use district of the Waterfront, called the Portswood District. “We have a number of heritage houses that were restored at the same time as the Ridge was under construction. These form part of the new district which will focus heavily on non-motorised mobility. While the district is envisaged as a commercial node, we are constructing public footpaths and a bicycle route will navigate the area.”
“The area will offer shady retreats, a Petersham Nurseries style cafe made solely from waste material from the V&A including a feature glass bottle wall (designed by PE based architect Kevin Kimwelle), a vegetable garden and the security of being within the Waterfront. We see this new district as a kind of secret garden with a high density of green open spaces and trees creating an environment that is truly unique in an inner-city location.
“With the opening of the Ridge at the Portswood District, it is now possible to navigate from this new commercial district, via the Watershed and beyond to our established retail and mixed-use property assets, including Victoria Wharf, the Clock Tower district, the Silo district or even Granger Bay,” Nobel says.
Wayne Megaw, Operations Leader, Deloitte Africa
“Our impact on the environment was a key consideration throughout the building project and therefore the 6 Star rating is an incredible achievement. Achieving certification means that we have succeeded, through collaboration with the development team, in building a high-performing, productive workplace that is healthier for our people and the environment.
“The interior design further ensures that the office becomes a place to work more dynamically through offering the right kind of working space available at the right time. The Ridge offers a range of different working activities and styles with spaces that can fuel creativity and will ultimately generate more collaborations across our multiple business units. There are no private offices for any staff with hot-desking being embraced to support openness, chance interactions, teamwork and increased collaboration. The office promises improved efficiency, integration and sustainability which is good for our business, our people, our clients and the environment, as well as our long-term capacity needs,” he comments.
Tessa Brunette, Lead Engineering and Façade Consultant, Arup
“Together with the buildings’ intrinsic thermal mass, the façade is the most important ‘machine’ (controlling indoor environment) in the building. We reached our design response using first principles, in close collaboration with studioMAS, the architects.
“These design responses were then tested and refined by using advanced computer modelling method, which included the testing of different glazing types, orientations and shading types. Thus we identified the optimum combination of orientation vs. shading vs. glazing type.
“Through an iterative process with many stages of analysis, modelling and interpretation initial modelling, the various options were refined to assess which combinations worked best in conjunction with the architecture and budget.
“Modelling confirmed that the zigzag (pleated) façade that we adopted for building levels 2 and 3 performs as well as a straight deeply shaded façade, and allows for more glazing without external shading devices that could obstruct views to the outside and reduce the amount of internal natural light.
“So the design significantly reduces the amount of direct sunlight entering the building, which in turn means that the internal spaces can largely rely on our mixed-mode system and not need air conditioning to remain comfortable,” Brunette says.
The building is designed to be as comfortable as possible without needing air conditioning to heat or cool. Occupants can control their personal comfort by adding or removing outer layers of clothing. If that is not enough, the controls can be adjusted to suit what the user prefers.
TABS (thermally activated building system technology) operates continuously throughout warmer months, cooling the internal environment using chilled water circulating through the floor slabs. This complements the operation of the natural ventilation system and HVAC, meaning that the building’s possible use of fresh air ventilation rises from 60% to 80% of the year.
It is all done on a controlled basis: “Traffic” Lights installed around the building perimeter indicate to the occupants when they should open and close the windows, based on outside conditions.
When the windows are open, the active ventilation system is switched off. When the weather outside is not suitable for natural ventilation, the building management system (BMS) activates HVAC (air conditioning), provided that the windows have been manually closed.
Air from the HVAC system, when switched on by the BMS, enters the office spaces via a low energy usage displacement ventilation system via air grilles that are located in the floor.
Special custom-designed acoustic panels are suspended underneath the exposed slabs to provide appropriate levels of sound absorption for a comfortable work environment, whilst leaving sufficient exposed thermal mass for the TABS to provide benefit to the occupants.
Sean Mahoney, Project Lead Architect, Studio MAS
“Our role as architect is to combine the logic and practicalities of engineering with the creative arts. I think of the climate control systems in use at the Ridge as the (Toyota) Prius of the built environment – a veritable hybrid,” Mahoney says in a moment of levity.
“This was a collaborative process with Arup best illustrated on the Ridge by the zigzag timber façade and the ‘central street’ with its roof light drums. Both these design elements have a strong engineering and design rationale backing them up, but at the same time, we have managed to create beauty and joy out of them. They are key to the building’s identity and aesthetic and create memorable experiences. These include natural light, natural timber in the case of façade, wonderful views out of the windows, connection with the outdoors and identity,” he says.
“Timelessness in architecture is something that many designers strive for. The timber façade itself will evolve and keep functioning over the years, changing colour as it weathers, developing a patina, and making the building stand out as unique.”
The origami concept also plays out in an extraordinary-looking ceiling feature outside the entrance lobby for the building which incorporates a continuum of inverted pyramid shapes.
Mahoney comments: “It’s all about the forgotten elevation and view. This is a double-volume scaled space, and the soffit is very visible.
“It’s also inspired by the Baxter theatre, which I absolutely love, even though the design is very different. It’s about having a powerful aesthetic for the ceiling view. The geometry of the upside-down pyramids is derived by folding the two pleated façades on the corner by 90 degrees, so that you in effect have a pleated soffit, and then ramming the pleated façades into each other. The troughs and valleys of the pleats combine to create pyramid forms. LED strip lights are then run along the diagonal valleys that occur,” he adds.
Interior fit-out by the tenant, Deloitte – as per Claire D’Adorante, Director of Paragon Interface
The ground floor accommodates the more public functions such as a Deloitte reception, client-facing meeting rooms, a staff restaurant and a Vida e Caffé that can service both Deloitte employees and the public realm through a hatch inserted into the covered entrance façade.
“To facilitate and encourage active movement for both employees and visitors, the Ridge has a light-filled internal atrium conceptualised as a street that runs through its centre. The workspace planning focuses on activating this street edge through the deliberate positioning of agile workspaces around the atrium to create a bustling working corridor.
“This includes a balance of collaborative workspace such as touch-down points, casual lounge spaces, focus rooms and pods. Social relaxation areas are positioned in the vertical circulation core. Lifts and a sculptural steel staircase allow employees to easily connect with each other between floors,” explains D’Adorante.
The ground floor experience is completed by Deloitte’s ‘Xcelerator’, an immersive environment where clients can experience the potential of digital transformations in an innovative environment that enables the creative development of customised digital solutions.
New ways of working such as desk-sharing practices are also being successfully implemented here, aligned with Deloitte’s global workspace practices. “From the beginning the Ridge was always going to be unique, and the interior really needed to respond to that brief. At the same time, it aligns the threads of Deloitte’s branding philosophy and the workplace strategies,” she concludes.
The usage of the tenant corporate colours permeate the building creatively and are also used in a practical way for example, in navigation around the 8 500m2 building – each floor is uniquely colour-coded.
The Green Building Council of South Africa
Lisa Reynolds, CEO of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), commends the V&A Waterfront and the entire professional team on another iconic 6-Star Green Star certified building within the Waterfront precinct. “The Ridge represents the V&A’s commitments to world-class sustainability leadership as well as showcasing local built environment professional talent capable of delivering innovative sustainable design,” says Reynolds. “Green buildings like the Ridge help to inspire a built environment in which both people and planet thrive,” she adds.
Georgina Smit, Head of Technical at the GBCSA explains that a 6-Star Green Star Design rating at the project design stage represents an intent to achieve a sustainability performance level that equates to world leadership, exceeding South African excellence (5-Star) and industry best practice (4-Star).
“Six-star ratings are unusual in South Africa and is not an easy achievement for a design rating. Only nine other offices have achieved this accolade to date, either through our Design or As-Built rating, or both, since 2010. It involves a committed client, a dedicated professional team and an integrated design approach by all,” she says.
More on green buildings in our latest issue of +Impact
- The building has a specific energy strategy which includes:
- Passive energy-efficient features are incorporated, as mentioned above, to reduce base energy load.
- Active energy-efficient designs include low-energy lighting systems.
- A solar array on the roof harvests additional power when the sun is shining.
- Ultimately, in the case of a grid failure, vital systems in the building are kept going by means of a standby generator.
- The building employs the normal low water flow devices in sympathy with Cape Town’s growing status as an arid city.
- Grey water and rainwater harvested from the roof is collected and reused for toilet flushing and irrigation.
Dematerialisation and recycling
The focus given by designers to dematerialisation, re-use and recycling is well documented, including the South African first-ever usage of ecobricks encapsulated within certain non-load bearing structural elements of the building.
Greening the interior
Within the Ridge, the natural environment is king. Green plants and a planted balcony for occupants are features of the design philosophy that incorporates greenery.
Photography by ©Gareth Griffiths Imaging and Sarah da Pina
Professional Team: The Ridge
|Engineering team (comprehensive service)||Arup|
|Quantity surveyors||Smith & Co|
|Interior architects||Paragon Interface|
|Main contractor||GVK Siya Zama|
|Geo-tech engineers||Core Geotech|
|Landscape architects||Planning Partners|
AECOM fast-tracks Green School South Africa in Paarl for the 2021 school year
Infrastructure consulting firm AECOM enabled Green School South Africa in the Drakenstein Valley near Paarl in the Western Cape to be fast-tracked so it could open on time for the 2021 school year.
AECOM’s long-lead procurement scheduling provided the necessary planning tool to enable the team to monitor and track procurement of the specialised construction packages. Appointed in June 2019, there was considerable pressure to have the school open and operational, reports Herman Berry (PrQS), Executive, Programme, Cost, Consultancy – Africa, AECOM. A Head of School and teaching staff were appointed and children accepted, which meant that the opening date was non-negotiable. However, careful planning, teamwork and sheer hard work meant that Green School South Africa was ready to welcome learners by 15 February 2021.
The school is a passion project for its founders, Herman and Alba Brandt, whose children attended Green School Bali in 2017. Their extraordinary educational experience inspired the establishment of Green School South Africa. The personal significance of the project, a school for their own children and children from their community, was a driving force throughout the project.
The family had a personal touch in every aspect, which meant that managing expectations throughout was critical. The Covid-19 pandemic impacted progress significantly, with construction halted on 27 March 2020 and only resuming on-site on 1 June 2020. “This added a full two-month delay to an already congested programme,” reveals Berry.
When the hard lockdown commenced, no one could foresee how long it would be before construction could resume. As time passed, the team became increasingly concerned about the construction timeline, as well as the probable impact of global supply chain constraints on availability and price escalations of all critical materials.
To address these risks, the professional team redesigned many of the buildings to enable reduced construction times (for instance, all classrooms were planned as rammed earth buildings, but in lockdown this was changed to locally manufactured bricks) and tendered and finalised the procurement of all critical materials such as glass, steel, aluminium and the security system, etc.
“We even managed to manufacture the custom-made roof trusses for all of the classrooms during lockdown Level 4, adopting a modular concept to increase on-site efficiency,” adds Berry. Critical decisions also had to be taken on how the school could be operational while still finishing some buildings after it had opened.
What is Green School South Africa, and how is it ‘green’?
Green School South Africa’s mission is to educate for sustainability, so it has an extremely strong focus on sustainability in every component of the school. This includes design, construction and operation, but also extends to the curriculum and the way in which this is taught.
The school opened with an initial intake of 120 learners from kindergarten to Grade 8, and will add a grade so it caters for kindergarten to Grade 12 by 2025. The gross construction area of 2 973 m2 consists of 16 classrooms split between kindergarten and primary school, the Sangkep Hall (Balinese for ‘gathering place’) and the Heart of School area, complete with dining hall, kitchen, servery, library, art and music studios as well as ablution facilities.
Apart from the buildings, extensive landscaping had to be completed, together with a sports field, road network and security fence. From a design and construction perspective, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) was proposed by Terramanzi, the sustainability consultant. The LBC is an incredibly rigorous standard that requires a project to be regenerative and not just have a zero-carbon footprint. The fact that the site is situated outside the urban edge and far from public infrastructure services meant it had to generate its own electricity, purity its own water and treat its own waste water.
Some sustainability highlights of the school are:
- It is regenerative in terms of energy, producing 105% of its own electricity consumption, thus giving back to the grid and not taking from it.
- It is regenerative in terms water, using less water than what the site naturally gets per year from rainfall – hence it gives back more to the river and groundwater aquifers than it takes from it.
- It is a zero waste-to-landfill site, also taking in waste from neighbours and the community so as to have a net positive impact on waste to landfill.
- The construction process had to ensure that no materials on-site included any Red List ingredients, and also that the manufacturing process of all materials did not use any of these items;
- Endemic flora was re-established in the gardens, thereby contributing positively to the biodiversity of not just the site, but the entire area, with so many different types of bees, butterflies and seed-spreading; and
- It incorporated vegetable gardens, fruit forests, medicinal gardens and herbal corridors in the campus landscape. The school day includes growing, caring for and harvesting – all with the aim of re-establishing people’s connection to the land and food.
In addition to the above, all materials were carefully selected to reduce carbon emissions. Feng shui principles were incorporated to harness positive energies within the buildings to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. The thermal comfort of learners and educators was very important, with the classroom orientation, heights, roof overhangs and Thermally Activated Building System (TABS) all contributing to create a comfortable indoor environment.
With the different types of material requirements, in addition to personal touches by the client, budgets remained under pressure, so AECOM drove a value engineering process with the architect and interior designer. Basic quantity surveying principles were applied, such as reviewing the efficiency ratios of wall/floor areas, reducing wall heights and oversailing roofs, advising changing materials to meet target savings and reviewing construction areas of the various buildings, etc. “We managed to guide the designers to make practical changes without altering the essence of the design in order to achieve the client’s vision,” highlights Berry.
When Green School South Africa opened its doors on 15 February 2021, the classrooms and Heart of School buildings were complete, the gardens were planted and all infrastructure components were operational. It was almost an impossible project, but showed how collective determination and hard work can change an impossible dream into a beautiful reality, points out Berry. “This project brings diversity to AECOM’s standard public education services. We hope it will be a trailblazer for similar types of private campuses in future.”
Other key projects that AECOM has been involved with was planning, designing and managing the implementation of ablution blocks and new boreholes for 367 schools within the Southern and Midlands regions of KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of the Department of Education. AECOM also has a long-term contract with Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley to provide project and programme management and commercial and procurement support services.
Main contractor: Energy Master Builders
Quantity surveyor and fire engineer: AECOM – Lead QS Herman Berry, QS Mathapelo Nchabeleng, Senior Mechanical Engineer and Fire Engineer Johan Jooste
Architect: GASS Architecture Studios
Lead interior designer: D12
Civil and electrical engineer: FRAME (Paarl)
Solar PV design and supply: FRAME (Paarl)
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GBCSA and YIPA open doors to a sustainable future
In celebration of Youth month in South Africa, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and the Youth In Property Association (YIPA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This signals greater collaboration between the two organisations, which are playing a role in shaping the future built environment in South Africa.
The MOU has a strong focus on knowledge sharing and events as the two organisations aspire to learn from each other and work together to ensure more sustainable buildings and practices in the local property sector. “We are truly looking forward to greater collaboration with the energetic members of YIPA,” says Lisa Reynolds, CEO of GBCSA.
“We’re really looking forward to working closer with the GBCSA. We have always been focused on finding new and innovative ways to increase the participation of young people in the property sector and this MOU does just that. The sustainability of our planet cannot be achieved without thinking differently about how property is developed and managed. This alliance with the GBCSA will ensure that young people in property become a part of the broader conversation and ultimately contribute to the security of our future,” says YIPA chairperson, Monedi Lefakane.
Because real estate contributes over one third of global emissions (IEA), there is growing pressure on the property sector to address climate change. The physical risks to property from the changing climate, and the reputational risks of inaction against climate change mean that more companies and governments are making commitments to tackle these issues.
A strong focus of the MOU is that YIPA members will be entitled to preferential pricing for training with the GBCSA. Courses, both standard and bespoke, offered by the GBCSA provide great insight into sustainability and unlock opportunities for further collaboration and entrepreneurship.
“We can’t wait to welcome YIPA members into our training programmes. There is a world of green building and sustainability insight waiting for them. We are also eager to better understand the concerns of younger property professionals, particularly when it comes to sustainability,” says Jean Rodel, Head: GBCSA Academy.
Both YIPA and the GBCSA look forward to rewarding collaborations going forward.View more