Increasing utility costs and office building owners having to differentiate their service offering to secure tenants during the current tough economic climate will promote growth in the green building sector of South Africa, particularly in terms of the green refurbishment of existing buildings, says the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
GBCSA chief technical officer Manfred Braune tells Engineering News that the number of tenants considering moving into a green office space is steadily increasing, and building owners are responding by refurbishing their assets to attain a Green Star SA rating from the GBCSA.
He points out, however, that new green building projects will continue to be developed but at a slower rate, compared with refurbishment projects, pointing out that developers often prefer greenfield projects, owing to the prospects of using new design and technology innovations.
Meanwhile, Braune highlights that green building initiatives address many of the environmental and energy challenges in South Africa, such as electricity shortages, through the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems, either on the roof or the façade of a building.
Further, employing air-circulation alternatives to energy intensive air-conditioning systems, such as mechanical air vacuums that remove hot air from buildings, can further alleviate elec- tricity constraints.
Braune adds that water supply shortages can be addressed by implementing on-site grey water reuse systems. Black water refers to sewage water, while grey water is used for showers and basins.
The recycling of furniture, as well as wall and floor fittings, could also mitigate decreasing landfill-site availability.
“Research shows that Green Star SA-rated buildings are able to achieve energy savings of between 25% and 50%, compared with buildings designed in accordance with SANS 204, which deals with energy efficiency.
“Further, the payback periods of energy- and water-savings practices are becoming much shorter, as a result of increasing utility costs and the wider availability of more affordable green building technology,” Braune asserts.
He further highlights that, while companies in the property sector are increasingly starting to discuss green building initiatives, government bodies are also becoming part of the initiatives. Braune cites Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s 2012 announcement that the province would be transformed into the green economic hub of South Africa.
Support for green buildings has since received additional support from Johannesburg, Africa’s economic powerhouse, with the registration of the first green bond on the JSE in June last year.
“The R1.46-billion bond issued by the City of Johannesburg will be used to fund green initiatives, which demonstrates commendable green leadership,” Braune asserts.
Meanwhile, he notes that the key motivator for the GBCSA and green building initiatives is combating global warming, the scarcity of natural resources and climate change, as well as their effects on the planet.
“It is evident that the environmental impact of buildings requires urgent improvement if the global priorities of climate change and scarcity of natural resources are to be adequately addressed. Simply put, we aim to inspire better building,” Braune concludes.