Build green to benefit your business and the planet
Loadshedding, and increasingly also water-supply interruptions, are wreaking havoc with the lives and livelihoods of South Africans. Investing in green buildings, however, could rescue your bottom line as much as the planet, especially with the innovative financing available to entrepreneurs.
This is according to Gugu Mjadu, marketing executive general manager at specialist financier for small and medium enterprises, Business Partners Limited, who says it is a good thing that South Africa was an early adopter of the green building movement. “The Green Building Council South Africa was founded in 2007, in 2008 the Green Star SA rating system was launched and the first certification, for phase two of Nedbank’s head office in Sandton, was awarded in 2009,” she says.
Mjadu reflects on some of the statistics from Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) which indicate that by October 2022, South Africa had 905 certified green building developments; 165 of them completed in the past year, compared to the five years it took for the first 50.
“The impact of the 905 certifications is awe-inspiring: for instance, the 1 320-million kWh/annum energy saved is enough to power 91 500 households per year. The 1 220-million litres of water saved is enough to meet 1 672 800 people’s daily drinking water needs every year whereas the 1 590-million kgCO2/annum carbon saved is equal to 395 400 fewer cars on the roads every year. South Africa is definitely contributing to saving the planet,” Mjadu adds.
Even with those statistics, many entrepreneurs are still not sold on investing in green buildings. Mjadu says it should be an easy decision to make, particularly now with the ever-rising cost of doing business. She says, “Apart from benefitting the environment and sustainability, green-certified buildings offer excellent commercial value: operating costs are lower due to water and energy savings. Also, according to MSCI South African Green Annual Property Index green buildings attract and retain tenants far more effectively than their conventional counterparts.”
Greening your buildings also leads to more productivity and well-rested employees. “According to a 2015 Harvard-led study, workers in green, well-ventilated offices recorded a 101% increase in brain function scores when employees who work in offices with windows sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night according to an American Academy of Sleep Medicine report from 2013,” explains Mjadu.
Even if environmental sustainability is not your main concern, the rapidly rising cost of water and electricity, combined with unreliable supplies and the financial impact of disruptions on your business, is a powerful case in favour of green investment. The only question therefore that remains is if you can afford to invest in a green building or development.
“Considering the challenges that many businesses are facing and the fact that there is a wide range of highly attractive financing options available, you have a winning strategy for either converting an existing building or development or constructing something new,” says Mjadu. She adds that in terms of affordability, it is important to bear in mind that green no longer means too expensive.
“According to the International Finance Corporation, the average premium for a building to achieve green building status is 4.4% of total Capex.”
Two reports mentioned on the GBCSA website bear this out. An international study involving 180 buildings, found the premium to be between 0% and 4%, while a South African study of eight local and 11 international buildings, found it to be between 1% and 10%. This data was collected from a small sample of buildings, all having been built early in the green building movement. All indications are that green building costs are rapidly becoming on par with the capital required to build a conventional structure.
Mjadu explains that the Business Partners Limited’s Green Buildings Finance Programme provides up to 100% property finance, ranging from R500 000 to R50-million, to established entrepreneurs with a viable business who want to invest in green buildings and achieve green building certification.
The company finances the purchase, construction, and/or retrofit of buildings if their designs are certified under an eligible green building certification. The finance programme’s main focus is on industrial and retail spaces, but residential property developments, hotels, schools, hospitals, offices and mixed-use buildings also qualify.
“Considering that Business Partners Ltd offers entrepreneurs a rebate of up to 40 percent of the capital expenditure needed to green their buildings and the cost of green certification is covered by a non-refundable grant of up to R150 000, there is no better time than now to go green for your buildings,” Mjadu concludes.View more
SANBS Mount Edgecombe – WSP brings sustainable new life to an old building and the people it serves
SANBS Mount Edgecombe head office in KZN achieved a five-star Design rating as well as a Net Zero Carbon Level 1 Base Building Emissions (Modelled) As Built Certification from the GBCSA.Continue reading View more
GBCSA relocates to Growthpoint’s River Park offices in Cape Town
Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is moving to new green offices in Cape Town at Growthpoint Properties’ River Park, Mowbray, from 1 June 2022. The GBCSA has taken a three-year lease over some 330sqm of space at the recently refurbished multitenant office building.Continue reading View more
UK PACT-funded project to support 250 buildings and five SMMEs in the race to meet EPC deadline
In an effort to accelerate the uptake of energy performance certificates (EPCs) in South Africa, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and the Carbon Trust are calling for 250 building owners and five SMMEs to participate in an EPC project funded by UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions).
Since inception of the UK PACT-funded project in March 2021, GBCSA and Carbon Trust have supported the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), and the National Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) with implementation of a mechanism to support South Africa’s new EPC regulation that aims to drive energy disclosure within South Africa’s existing building stock.
“Climate change and sustainability continues to move up the corporate agenda with global stock exchanges (including the JSE) and investors placing ever increasing emphasis on ESG management and reporting, EPCs could become an important part of South Africa’s national decarbonisation strategy, driving energy efficiency in buildings and ultimately aiding the just transition to a low-carbon economy,” says Jonathan Booth of the Carbon Trust.
South Africa’s EPC regulation was made effective in December 2020 with the requirement for certain types of public sector buildings greater than 1000m² and of private sector buildings greater than 2000m² to obtain an EPC within a two-year period.
As the December 2022 deadline for obtaining an EPC looms for affected building owners, the project is shifting focus from helping to lay the EPC groundwork (read about the project’s first year here) to supporting the implementation of the mechanism. This is anticipated to accelerate the uptake of EPCs in South Africa.
The project team is now actively seeking to support building owners with EPC groundwork and SMMEs who would like to become SANAS accredited inspection bodies.
Call to support 250 building owners in obtaining EPCs
Support will be offered to 250 building owners/managers in obtaining EPCs, whose building fits the following criteria:
- The building is older than two years with no recent major refurbishments
- The buildings are of one of these Occupancy Classes
- Entertainment & Public Assembly
- Theatrical & Indoor Sport
- Places of Instruction
- A minimum of 12 months of energy data is available for the building
- Public sector buildings greater than 1 000m2, private sector buildings greater than 2 000m2
Owners (or building/facilities managers) of the selected buildings will be provided with:
- Introductory EPC training
- An EPC tool to facilitate data gathering and to assist with the necessary calculations
- Availability of an email based ‘help desk’ to provide ongoing support
If you are a building owner or manager responsible for obtaining your building’s EPC and would like to benefit from this support, sign up online here.
Call to support five SMMEs to become SANAS accredited inspection bodies
The just transition to a low-carbon future and job creation within the green economy are major imperatives both internationally and in South Africa. The EPC legislation plays its part in addressing this by supporting SMMEs involved in the fields of energy efficiency, energy management or energy auditing within the built environment to potentially attain SANAS accreditation as Inspection Bodies. The role of these Inspection Bodies is to verify the data for EPCs and to issue the EPCs.
“EPCs are a good first step for building owners to understand their impact, improve energy efficiency and eventually target net zero. While the industry is faced with several challenges, I personally am very excited about the positive job opportunities and skills in understanding a buildings energy use this regulation will create” says Lisa Reynolds, CEO of GBCSA.
Five SMMEs will be offered financial and technical support to help them obtain accreditation from SANAS as an Inspection Body able to issue EPCs.
If you are an SMME and interested in becoming a SANAS-accredited Inspection Body, apply online here.
For information around upcoming EPC training and awareness, workshops please contact email@example.com.View more
Is taking your property off the grid a good investment?
By Antonie Goosen, principal and owner of Meridian Realty
South Africans have been dealt a number of blows in the past couple of years. There was the devastating drought in the Western Cape, the onset of Covid-19 and the impact it had on household incomes, last year’s riots and looting and the most recent flooding in KZN.
These disasters have been exacerbated by ongoing load shedding recently and paired with the war in the Ukraine and the impact on inflation and interest rates which could, according to FNB, cause a “downside risk to growth” in the property market. Even though Eskom’s tariff increase of 9.6% for Eskom customers, was less than the 20.5% put forward, it is still above inflation, driving spending and disposable income down too.
The market itself is starting to flatten, according to the latest FNB Property Barometer, “Price growth appears to have stabilised in the last few months, likely due to the receding supply of properties on the market”. The report points out that “factors such as the ongoing shifts in housing needs and banks’ appetite for quality lending could mitigate the impact.”
But what are some of these housing needs?
In my experience, homeowners are looking for safety, security, and as little disruption to utility supply as possible. One major trend we are seeing is the shift in the mid to higher housing market to taking homes “off the grid” or at least partially so. This means a home either does not require any public utility services or that the home is only partially dependent on the grid. Off grid homes are becoming more sough after and, according to several sources, can be sold at between 3-4% higher when compared to similar properties without off the grid amenities.
Looking at the electricity scenario, many buyers are looking to houses that have gas installations, particularly stoves, heating and even geysers. Houses with pre-existing solar and inverter installations are also considered to be a positive selling point for high-end homes. According to The Solar Future, South Africa’s climate is ideal for solar, with most areas in the country averaging 2500 hours of sunshine per year, among the highest in the world. Water storage and use of grey water is also becoming more popular on properties across the spectrum. Even in lower and mid income housing we are seeing a trend toward water storage as people seek more water security.
Another trend we are seeing is the rise of eco estates in South Africa that operate completely or partially off the grid. Eco estates are viewed as attractive places to live due to their security, off-grid built-in facilities and the promise of lifestyle, closer to nature within the estate itself.
Is going green considered quality lending by banks?
According to the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), “Green homeowners can save money on utilities and be more competitive when selling. Banks are starting to recognise this reduction in risk by offering green home loans.” In March 2020, GBCSA members Balwin Properties and financial services provider Absa together launched South Africa’s first green home loan, the Absa Eco Home Loan. Investec is also piloting a project which offers financing to its private clients as it also aligns to their green credentials, making going off the grid more accessible.
Things to consider when going off the grid
So, when it comes taking the step toward going off the grid in your own home one needs to consider the capital outlay of the alternate power and water solutions that you want to install, as well the annual power and water costs. From there, the homeowner should work out how long it would take to “break even” on the investment and saving would begin.
Over and above this, there is the debate of being completely off the grid, which is significantly more expensive than being partially off grid compared to hybrid solutions. To be completely off the grid one would need to invest significantly in battery storage, which is expensive. However, this needs to be weighed up against uncertainty around tariffs that Eskom wants to implement on those who use hybrid generation.
Bringing it all together
There is no doubt we are in the throes of an electricity transition, that is not only taking place locally, but globally as well. South Africa (considered to be a high emission country) has even set goals to have net zero emissions by 2050 according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). We need to seek out new ways to generate and store power. Our current way of using coal power has proven that it is not efficient enough to fuel our economy. As South Africa is considered a water scarce country and ranked the 30th driest country in the world according to WWF, water needs to be conserved for all as well.
Seeking to go off grid in your home is a good investment in the long term. Going “green” increases the perceived value of your property and can be achieved in a phased approach starting as simply as installing a gas stove or a water storage tank. Finally, with High Court rulings in favour of Eskom being able to claw back billions in tariffs over the next few years, the fact remains that electricity costs are going to keep increasing above inflation for the next couple of years and water, sadly, will continue to become an even more scarce commodity as climate change accelerates. It would be sensible to start investing in making the change now to save in the future.View more
Rabie adds another green building to its tally
Rabie adds another green building to its tally, bringing its total to ten Green Star rated buildings in Century City.Continue reading View more
Measuring energy performance in existing buildings is a catalyst to net zero
Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) partnership with the Carbon Trust, made possible by funding and support from the UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions) programme, will help South Africa get to grips with energy efficiency in the country’s existing building stock through operationalising Energy Performance Certificates. This is an important first step towards achieving the country’s net zero ambitions.Continue reading View more
Growthpoint champions game-changing new GBCSA industrial property green rating tool
Growthpoint Properties is the proud sponsor of a new Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) rating tool. The pilot Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating tool for existing industrial buildings is a first for the industry and the country, and has the potential to radically improve sustainability in the industrial property sector.Continue reading View more
Greening of SA commercial property sector gains momentum
The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) announced that 140 buildings were certified over the past year – a record number. The announcement was made during the GBCSA’s flagship Green Building Convention that was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week.
“Certified green buildings held their own as far as vacancy and return rates go over the past year. Property owners, tenants and investors are now insisting on better, certified green buildings, as the environmental and financial benefits of these become indisputable. To date, the GBCSA has certified 740 buildings since 2009,” said GBCSA CEO, Lisa Reynolds.
Reynolds said that the 140 certifications during a challenging Covid year was significant and spoke to a growing green building movement. She also commended the built environment community for driving the movement, saying “we do the certifications, but you make the commitment”.
It was also announced that Giles Pendleton, who is the Chief Development Officer at Attacq Limited, will remain as the Chairperson of GBCSA for another year.
The Green Building Convention hosted several keynote international and local speakers, including Nigerian architect, Kunlé Adeyemi, whose ‘African Water Cities’ have garnered him worldwide acclaim; Dutch bio-designer, Teresa van Dongen who shared the ground-breaking work she is doing in combining nature and science into her design; and Mashudu Ramano, entrepreneur in transition to a regenerative and sustainable future, bringing home our undeniable connection to and reliance on the environment.
“Our programme was curated around this year’s theme – One – One Planet. One Chance. It comprehensively looked at the critical role of the green building community and the need for us to come together as one powerful movement to effect positive change that counts.
“The theme spoke to the need for decisive and immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate change and to save our one planet for future generations. This is not something we can do alone – we need everyone to commit to a future where people and the planet thrive,” Reynolds added.
GBCSA also thanked its sponsors for making this year’s Convention possible.
“To our lead sponsors – Nedbank, Rand Water and Vodacom Business and all our other sponsors and supporters, thank you for partnering with us and investing in the green building movement. Partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs and we are in great company as we drive sustainable changes in the built environment,” said Reynolds.
GBCSA also announced the winners of its annual Leadership Awards at the closing plenary of the Convention. The awards are based on submission data gathered during the Green Star certification process, and individuals are nominated by the industry.
“Congratulations to all the projects and individuals who received awards this year. It is an honour to recognise the movers and shakers in our industry,” said Reynolds.
HIGHEST RATED BUILDING
The Ridge (Cape Town)
6-Star Green Star Office Design v1.1
AP: Mike Munnik, Agama Energy | Property Owner: V&A Waterfront
Balwin Head Office (Johannesburg)
6-Star Green Star Office Design v1.1
AP: Zendré Compion, Solid Green | Property Owner: Balwin Properties
BEST QUALITY SUBMISSION
5-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance v1
AP: Sally Misplon, Misplon Green Building Consulting | Property Owner: Redefine Properties
Wickham House (Johannesburg)
5-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance v1
AP: Sally Misplon, Misplon Green Building Consulting | Property Owner: Redefine Properties
Yvonne Pelser, InsideOUT Consulting
ESTABLISHED GREEN STAR
Mike Munnik, Agama Energy
Dash Coville, Solid Green
RISING GREEN STAR
Hlologelo Manthose, WSP Group Africa
Alex Varughese, Solid Green
YIPA SUSTAINABLE YOUNG CHANGEMAKER
GBCSA also partnered with the Youth in Property Association (YIPA) to introduce the inaugural YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker Award, which recognises the exceptional contribution of young people to sustainability in the built environment sector.
Thamsanqa Hoza, is the first recipient of the award. Hoza is a young leader who is passionate about the intersection of infrastructure development, technology, and people, and particularly using this to improve the livelihoods of Africans. He is the founder of Hot Nozzle, a company that manufactures novel water heating technologies. He is an Allan Gray fellow, AIF top ten young innovators, received qualifications from UCT and Cambridge University, and has also received an award from the Queen of England.
For more information about the Green Building Convention, visit www.gbcsaconvention.org.View more