Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA.
Continuing its vision to lead the transformation of the South African property sector into an environmentally sustainable industry, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has launched its new Green Star SA Interiors tool – taking green building into the heart of every South African business.
The new Interiors tool, sponsored by both Standard Bank as the main sponsor and Saint Gobain as supporting sponsor, encourages tenants to rate the interior fit-outs of their premises. The overall aim of this new rating tool is to encourage the reduced environmental impact of interior projects.
Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, comments: “Our current suite of rating tools focus largely on the design and construction applied to new buildings and major refurbishments. Until now, they’ve had very little consideration for interior fit-outs inside each premises. The new Green Star SA Interiors tool is a key rating tool that will make a significant impact, especially on multitenant retail and office space.”
Wilkinson adds: “We are excited to launch this pioneering new tool for South Africa, and believe that it will help transform thousands of offices, shops, restaurants and many other places, in existing and new buildings across the country, into sustainable green spaces.”
Nathi Manzana, Standard Bank’s Head of Professional and Technical Services says: “Standard Bank is committed to sustainable business. This commitment is seen in the business practices we conduct, the facilities we manage, and the associations that we support. Working sustainably makes sound business sense, supports the environment and provides a productive space for our employees to serve our customers.”
Manzana adds: “Standard Bank’s new Rosebank office complex is an illustration of this. The building was completed in 2013 and accommodates around 4 500 employees in customer-facing operations. It has achieved a 5-star Green Star SA Design office v1 rating by the GBCSA and a 5-star Green Star SA As built office v1 rating.”
Lisa Reynolds, Sustainability Director at Saint-Gobain Gyproc, comments: “Saint-Gobain Gyproc is mindful of the fact that developing green environments requires much more than just energy planning. The company’s primary focus is the contribution our products make to the reduction of energy usage in both homes and workplaces. We have a number of products in our portfolio that have been designed and developed in-line with the company’s commitment to moving towards a greener environment, ensuring our products are able to contribute to energy efficient buildings being awarded the highest Green Star certification.”
The Green Star SA Interiors tool will reward high-performance tenant spaces that are healthy, productive places to work and incentivise best practice for sustainable and efficient interior fit-outs that are also less costly to maintain and operate.
It is designed to allow each tenancy to have unique environmental design initiatives, and to fairly and independently benchmark each one.
The benefits are far-reaching. Significantly lower building operation and management costs will provide cost savings for both tenants and landlords, and an energy-efficient premises would be less affected by soaring energy prices. In addition, with the national energy crises, lower energy consumption in green buildings reduces the strain on the power grid.
“A healthy building means happier employees and improved productivity. Businesses will be in a better position to retain talented staff and fast‐track behavioural change,” says Wilkinson.
He adds there are several knock-on advantages to using the Green Star SA Interiors tool. “It will definitely give businesses a competitive advantage. It signifies industry leaders who provide smart and healthy work, shopping and meeting places that are ‘set apart’ in the marketplace. It is not only a responsible investment, but serves to heighten a business’s attractiveness as an investment, a partner and an employer.”
The tool will also recognise and encourage collaboration between the building owner and tenants to manage and operate the building along environmentally sustainable principles.
The tool considers interior fit-outs from an all-round perspective, including the project scope and implementation. “It would, for example, identify and encourage management practises that minimise the amount of demolition and construction waste going to disposal,” notes Wilkinson.
“It gives recognition to the design of workspaces that provide spatial efficiency and improve productivity and occupant performance. Credits targeted will include quality of internal air, thermal, lighting and visual comfort, acoustic quality, ergonomics, as well as energy monitoring and greenhouse gas emissions,” Wilkinson says.
The Green Star SA Interiors pilot programme has already been a success. Various interior fit-out projects at retailers, gyms, offices as well as standalone fit-outs at branches are part of the pilot phase. Version one of the tool is now available for public use.