Sustainable building industry organisation the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has developed a customised pilot version of its Existing Building Performance (EBP) Tool to enable industrial properties to rate their buildings' performance according its Green Star Certification and ratings.
Sustainable built environment consultancies Sow & Reap Consulting and Imbue Sustainability customised the commercial EBP tool for an industrial context, and the pilot tool represents significant collaboration across the broader property industry, said GBCSA head of technical Georgina Smit in a briefing on June 24.
"The GBCSA has had developing an industrial property ratings tool on our radar for a while and we needed to do this update. The overall aim is to support a fundamental transformation in the existing building performance space," she said.
The existing EBP tool for commercial buildings had been used to rate four projects and, through these, the GBCSA gained insights and recognised the growing demand from the industrial market sector.
The pilot tool has been developed at the right time and in response to market needs, she added.
"This is an update to the existing GBCSA EBP tool, not a new tool, and the aim was to identify nuances within industrial properties to enable us to realign the tool to better address industrial property typologies," she explained.
Using requests for information, the organisation used data from 16 projects at industrial properties to develop the customised tool, but Imbue Sustainability founder and director Simon Penso noted that there were still some gaps in terms of data, and that the team wants to secure more data to support continuous refinement of benchmarks and the ratings tool.
GBCSA technical manager for EBP certifications Jenni Lombard said the GBCSA was open to other pilot projects, as more information and data would enable the organisation and its partners to identify whether what had been put forward in the tool was accurate and what parts needed to be adjusted.
JSE-listed real estate investment trust Growthpoint Properties sponsored the development of the industrial building rating tool. This included not only a financial contribution, but also partnerships with other real estate properties and companies to gather data, said Growthpoint sustainability and utilities head Grahame Cruickshanks.
"Growthpoint is a founding member of GBCSA and an early adopter of the full spectrum of rating tools. We also participated in the data collection exercise to establish the industrial building rating tool," he said.
Sow & Reap Consulting founder Francois Retief concurred and highlighted the importance of data and that collecting data is becoming crucial not only in the industrial sector but in all sectors in the ongoing journey towards green buildings.
"The industrial EBP tool has been updated in terms of standards that companies need to comply with, such as light levels and acoustic requirements, to ensure industrial workspaces are adequately catered for.
"A lot of the insights came from previous certifications of industrial facilities, which means the tool has been somewhat tested prior to the pilot," he said.
Penso highlighted that the update development team found it difficult to get data at their desired level of granularity, mostly because building and facility managers were not required to capture such data.
"What we are asking for is granular, technical data and we will develop further request for information based on international best practices and standards for those metrics we want to interrogate more deeply," he said.
"We hope to include more projects during and after the pilot phase so that we can gather the data we need and move to gathering data continuously. We are always open to calls for input from any potential data providers, even if they do not want to become certified.
“Data collection is a longer-term part of the project and, at the end of the pilot phase, we hope to expand the categories and benchmarks used to certify industrial properties and improve the robustness of the tool," added Penso.
An important part of the pilot process is to test the benchmarks used and, going forward, to look at structuring data collection in such a way that data will help to define the success of green buildings. The team wants to collect more data to improve the benchmarks over time, said Retief.