GBCSA congratulates Redefine on 40 new Green Star certifications

In a progressive contribution to transformation of the commercial green building space, JSE-listed South African real estate investment trust (REIT), Redefine Properties, recently certified/re-certified 40 buildings in their property portfolio, under the Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating tool.

Rosebank Link interior

Redefine’s diversified property portfolio, which amounts to a value of R75.3billion, includes a mix of retail, office, and industrial space throughout South Africa, and retail and logistics property investments in Poland. The recent Green Star accolades include 16 office EBP re-certifications, and 24 new EBP certifications across Gauteng, Cape Town, Kwazulu-Natal, and Polokwane. This is the largest bulk Green Star EBP certification from anyone commercial property owner to date and represents a major milestone for green property in South Africa.

“Property owners, such as Redefine stimulate market transformation by pioneering and leading when they ‘walk the talk’ and commit significantly to certification,” says GBCSA head of technical, Georgina Smit. “EBP certifications extend far beyond just energy and water performance management to encompass a much broader and holistic approach to sustainability management at an operational level. As such, they represent a commitment to a wide range of sustainability issues by a property owner and manager.”

Sustainability consultant and Green Star accredited professional for the project, Sally Misplon, explains that there are numerous advantages for REITs and other kinds of property owners willing to certifying many buildings at once. These include aligning each building’s operations with the overall sustainable objectives of the fund, building capacity within the fund for continued implementation, economies of scale in implementation, and reporting of overall portfolio performance (linked to environmental, social, and governance -ESG- goals).

Independently verified green building certifications, such as GBCSA’s Green Star certification suite, are linked to improved financial performance of properties, according to the most recent MSCI SA Green Property Index results. Covid-19’s requirement for healthy indoor workspaces has also increased the demand for green office space, and there are benefits to be gained for commercial property owners and developers who commit to certifying their portfolios.

Smit says the MSCI SA data shows that “certified offices, in comparison to their non-certified equivalents, are attracting higher tenancies, higher net operating income per square meter, and lower risk ratings.” These benefits signal a growing appetite for green buildings and sustainability in the property market, and also in the greater global business context. Essentially, greener office spaces offer healthier work environments for employees and mitigate risks of increasing energy costs, and potential future water shortages (to name a few potential climate-related crises).

The EBP rating tool measures a building’s operational performance over a 12-month period. Covid-19’s unexpected arrival, and the subsequent lockdown in March 2020, posed some challenges to the measuring of the information. Misplon explains: “The EBP rating tool has some minimum requirements in terms of occupancy density where each building is required to be occupied at a minimum of 70% during the performance period. As a result, GBCSA issued Covid-19 guidelines to assist projects teams in finding a way around this which still gave credits meaning during these different times. For example, the most recent reliable and accurate ‘pre-Covid’ set of energy and water data were used to benchmark the buildings energy and water performance, and adaptions were made to certain indoor air quality audit’s criteria to make it applicable to Covid-19 times, all while keeping the original intent and integrity of the rating tool in place.”

Covid-19 aside, processing a large number of certifications simultaneously, is a massive undertaking. Timing and planning are critical, Misplon explains. “Staying on top of data collection and tracking everything well is pertinent to successful and high-quality submissions.” As is support from the technical team at GBCSA. Due to meticulous teamwork, a high number of the projects received their certification after round 1 assessment.

Substantial portfolio certification, such as Redefine’s recent move, acts as a catalyst to other property owners who operate in the same space, says Misplon. Head of ESG at Redefine, Anelisa Keke, elaborates: “The benefits of green buildings run deeper and wider than what’s obvious at first glance. Besides the water and energy efficiencies, reduction of emissions and waste that come through sustainable design, construction, and operations, at Redefine the certification is a testament to our drive to create, manage, and invest in spaces in a manner that changes lives. Looking ahead, creating spaces that support the health and well-being of our customers, tenants and employees, as well as the economy and environment, will be vital to accelerating sustainable development and delivering a better standard of living.” 

Typical sustainability features across most projects

  • Indoor environmental quality testing to recognise the monitoring and control of indoor pollutants and help sustain the comfort and wellbeing of building occupants
  • Development and implementation of a Building Operations Manual, Building Users’ Guide and Preventative Maintenance Management Plan, Landscaping Management Plan, Hardscape Management Plan and Pest Management Plan
  • Development of a Solid Waste and Materials Management Policy to encourage sustainable waste management and recycling
  • Green Cleaning Policy in line with the Green Star requirements
  • A green procurement plan compiled and implemented to encourage and guide the property and facilities management teams to select the most sustainable products available on the market
  • Publication of green operational guidelines for tenants
  • Glare control devices are mandatory in occupied spaces to reduce the discomfort from glare and direct sunlight
  • Each building’s energy and water consumption benchmarked against other buildings of the same building type to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the burden on potable water supply and wastewater systems, associated with the use of energy in the building operations
  • A Green Travel Plan introduced to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport to and from work
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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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