GBCSA and Zutari launch safe workplace guideline

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and Zutari (formerly known as Aurecon) has launched a “safe return to the workplace” guideline to help facilitate a responsible reopening of offices in South Africa. 

“What is emerging is a realisation that lockdown cannot be a long-term strategy against Covid-19 and that the ‘new normal’ for workplaces is evolving because of the need for human interaction,” says Georgina Smit, GBCSA’s Head of Technical. “Although a ‘new normal’ is emerging in office working, it will need to respond not only to a changed world of work but will have to manage health-related risks as well,” she adds.   

The guideline, developed by GBCSA and Zutari, is a technical guide for existing buildings that identifies best practice recommendations for a healthy and safe return. The guide is available for free and aimed at building owners, facilities managers, office managers, and tenants.

“Commercial buildings are not typically designed to standards aimed at minimising the spread of infectious disease to the extent of hospitals that are built for this purpose. However, there are various measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission,”

Martin Smith, Technical Director, Zutari

The framework and guideline consist of five categories and 45 initiatives and has been put together to understand the range of options that should be considered when implementing the return to the workplace, with safety as the key priority. It provides an overview that identifies infection control strategies at various levels of decision-making and responsibility.

Smit explains that “the guidelines are set up in a structure similar to the Green Star rating tools with various interventions grouped under a number of applicable categories. A short aim description and background are provided for each initiative. The guide puts forward a recommended best practice for each initiative. It is a user-friendly starting point for stakeholders to understand what needs to be considered for a safe workplace.”

The guide considers initiatives related to management, personal behaviour, indoor air quality, safe water systems, and design for safety. Each category has been collated around the point of control within the building in mind. For example, the Management Category highlights the need for mental health support services that encourage resiliency and ensures that discrimination does not occur.

Smit says that the first step for those interested in applying this to a building they work in is a healthy building assessment audit. “The purpose of this is to provide an understanding of the current status of the building and its related services and address the preparedness of management and staff to handle health-related risks. It serves as a gap analysis of your building’s status in relation to desired outcomes and requirements of this guide.”

Zutari’s Martin Smith emphasises that the role of air quality needs to be considered. “You really want to address building ventilation rates to ensure sufficient ventilation or outdoor air supply rates are provided to minimise a build-up of pathogens or contaminants suspended in the air. Good amounts of fresh air also contribute to occupant wellness, which could have translated into productivity benefits.”

When considering mitigation strategies for your building, it is important to understand how infections such as Covid-19 spread. The risk associated with the following four most common transmission routes should be addressed when using this guide: person to person via macro droplets; airborne transmission; fomite transmission and faecal-oral transmission. 

“Mitigating risks associated with each one of these transmission routes has a massive impact on the way a building and its occupants need to be managed to ensure everyone’s safety,” Smith added. 

It is the responsibility of organisations encouraging staff to return to work to ensure due processes and protocols are followed for the safety of employees. Companies need to be compliant with the SA Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) Regulations and Guidelines and this guideline provides free additional robust support for the South African commercial and retail sector, through the lens of green building priorities.

GBCSA and Zutari urged stakeholders to “use this opportunity to facilitate the shift to creating healthy spaces for people to work, collaborate and contribute to creating a better place for all of us.” 

DOWNLOAD: The Framework & Guideline for the Safe Return to the Workplace. The initiatives can be downloaded here

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Certified green offices: Resilient to tough rental market

In its fourth year, the MSCI South Africa Green Annual Property Index provides an independent and consistent comparative return on investment for green-certified and non-certified offices.

Growthpoint Properties Lakeside office development has a 5-Star office design certification

Released in conjunction with Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and sponsored by Growthpoint Properties, the MSCI South Africa Green Annual Property Index measures investment returns for a total of 293 prime and A-grade offices (R54.5 billion capital value) and compares the returns of 105 green-certified buildings (R26.9 billion capital value) to the returns of the remaining 188 non-certified constituents.

For the year ended December 2019, the green-certified office sample delivered a total return of 7.6% versus 5.1% of the non-certified sample. 

CERTIFIEDNON-CERTIFIED
TOTAL RETURN7.6%5.1%
CAPITAL GROWTH-0.8%-3.3%
VACANCY8.0%11.5%
CAPITAL EXPENDITURE vs CAPITAL VALUE0.7%1.2%
Comparison of Green Star Buildings vs Non-Certified Buildings

Growthpoint’s Head of Asset Management Office, Paul Kollenberg, explains that the findings of the MSCI Green Property Index for Offices strongly support their long-term office investment strategy.

“We believe that the design and operation of buildings with a focus on occupant health and wellbeing will come into even sharper focus, and the index is proof that green buildings that prioritise health factors such as good ventilation and air quality are extremely well-positioned to retain and attract tenants now and in the future.”

Paul Kollenberg, GROWTHPOINT

GROWING GREEN

Capital growth was the main driver of this outperformance as the green-certified sample held its value in a challenging operating environment for the office market. While the green-certified sample delivered capital growth of -0.8% the non-certified sample saw capital growth slow to -3.3%.

The superior capital growth was the result of better net income growth and a lower discount rate – meaning that valuers view green-certified office properties as a lower risk investment. Also telling was a significantly lower vacancy rate of 8.0% versus the non-green sample vacancy rate of 11.5% highlighting the value occupiers attach to green-certified premises.

RESULTS RENEW REASON

Released by MSCI in June 2020, the index results reinforce the association between quality and green-certified buildings, as reflected by a 34% higher capital value per square metre, more resilient capital growth, and a higher net operating income per square metre compared to the non-certified office buildings.

Vice President of Client Coverage at MSCI South Africa, Eileen Andrew, explains that the latest SA Green Property Index results have added to the growing body of evidence regarding the benefits of sustainable investing.

 Growthpoint Properties’ Lakeside office development in Centurion

“It has been encouraging to see how green-certified buildings have outperformed on the key investment metrics of occupancy, net operating income, and operating cost ratios, highlighting these asset’s defensiveness during tough times. Furthermore, it has been interesting to note the discount and cap rate spreads between green-certified and non-certified assets, perhaps showing that valuers are adjusting their relative long-term risk assumptions for green-certified buildings.”  

EILEEN ANDREW, MSCI SOUTH AFRICA

Findings from the analysis showed that capital expenditure stood at 0.7% of the capital value for Green Star certified buildings, versus 1.2% of the capital value for uncertified buildings. This means that green-certified buildings require comparatively less capital expenditure, which has enhanced the capital growth relative to the non-green sample. 

GBCSA Head of Technical, Georgina Smit, comments that it is encouraging to see the research and evidence that backs certified green buildings as a worthy investment. 

“We expect that the value of certified green buildings will become even more pronounced as we navigate through the current challenges presented by Covid-19. With the greater focus on healthier environments, green buildings become even more attractive as they have always concentrated on health as the wellbeing of tenants, as well as operating cost efficiencies.”  

Georgina smit, green building council south africa

Smit adds that GBCSA has initiated globally leading independent research on the financial impacts of green buildings. The results from this year’s MSCI Green Property Index are particularly significant from a capital investment perspective, given the Covid-19 related impact on the property sector. 

Growthpoint is an established leader in commercial green developments across South Africa and internationally. The company provides spaces that work best for its clients by owning and managing the biggest portfolio of green-certified buildings in Africa and the results of the MSCI Green Property Index for Offices demonstrate the real rewards of doing this.

“Growthpoint creates space to thrive with innovative and sustainable property solutions in our portfolio of highly efficient office buildings, which support a lower cost of occupancy for clients, a lighter impact on the environment and rewarding returns for investors.”

PAUL KOLLENBERG, GROWTHPOINT

Green buildings have the unique potential to positively restore, regenerate,
improve, revitalise, include, enhance, advance and empower occupants,
communities and the environment. We have a duty to maximise these impacts.

READ +IMPACT 0.3 |Discover how sustainable strategy was brought to life in the development of Exxaro situated at the Growthpoint’s office development in Centurion. +Impact magazine is published by GreenEconomy.Media

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The REID Lifestyle Centre targets both Green Star and Net-Zero certifications

In May 2020, The REID Lifestyle Centre achieved a 6-Star Green Star Public & Education Building (PEB) certification. Part of an upmarket lifestyle estate situated close to the Marlboro Gautrain station, the building is also targeting a Net-zero Carbon Level 2 rating.

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