An aerial view of Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. Owned by the Amdec Group, it is home to the group’s first two Green Star SA rated buildings.
Leading private property company Amdec has set its sights on tripling the number of green buildings in its property portfolio over the next two years.
Having already earned Green Star SA ratings for two of its buildings in the last two years; Amdec plans to boost its pace of investing in green buildings by taking this number to six in the coming 24 months.
James Wilson, Amdec CEO, comments: “We take a multifaceted approach to sustainability and energy-efficiency. So, while we intend to pursue more Green Star SA ratings for all our new developments, and some of our existing ones, we are also adding more resource-efficient features to all our assets, whether there is a rating tool available for them or not. This helps take strain off our power grid, and our building users’ pockets, as well as being good for the environment and helping communities prosper.”
By considering the bigger picture, Amdec’s green building ethos has a far-reaching positive impact. Its holistic approach to green buildings is helping to change the way people think and live.
“An important part of green building is educating and transforming communities, updating legislation and government processes, and changing how we experience development,” explains Josef Quraishi, head of sustainability and green building for the Amdec group.
“Our macro view considers a building’s inherent relationship with its surrounds, ensuring it contributes to the sustainability of its community and natural setting,” explains Josef. “When we develop, we look at the broader context of investing in communities. A thriving community is good for business, the more attractive a community is, the more desirable our buildings become.”
Green building is growing apace in South Africa and Amdec, an active partner to the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), is helping it move into the future. In fact, Josef was closely involved with developing the GBCSA’s Socio Economic Category Pilot, which has been embraced by the World Green Building Council.
“Our relationship with the Green Building Council has allowed us to better understand where green building is going and the components of sustainability, like energy and water benchmarking,” says Josef.
As the owners in what can undoubtedly be considered South Africa’s first sustainable green precinct, Melrose Arch, which was developed ahead of its time and before the formal green building wave began in South Africa, Amdec knows first-hand the benefits an environmentally sound foundation adds to green building. That’s because the green inner-workings of Melrose Arch support more than a single building, they underpin a whole precinct.
It is here that Amdec has earned its two Green Star SA ratings: 40 on Oak was South Africa’s first multi-unit residential project certified under the Green Star SA system, with a 4-Star Green Star SA Pilot certification and The Worley Parsons TWP head office was awarded a 4-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design rating.
As part of its multiunit residential rating at 40 on Oak, Amdec cut energy consumption for each apartment by 50% and water consumption by 40% making the Melrose Arch apartments even more desirable. For the green rated office, it lowered energy consumption by 40% and water consumption by 50%.
Melrose Arch will also play a leading role in its future targeted green star ratings, two of which have already been registered at GBCSA.
Melrose Arch is packed with ingenious designs and small, smart green touches that also create an enjoyable environment. It includes a central district cooling plant that utilised evaporative cooling so its buildings use less air conditioning than usual, it uses gas and has integrated recycling. Its mixed-uses and pedestrianisation reduces the need for cars, it also benefits from good access to public transport.
In short, Melrose Arch is an enabling platform for sustainable buildings. It is this revelation that is inspiring Amdec to create even more environments that facilitate more green buildings
Josef tells that as companies transform the way they think about business, from being purely profit driven, to a paradigm that considers people, planet and profit, so property developers need to respond.
“Blue-chip businesses want their markets to know they are doing the right thing, so occupying a green rated building is becoming a business imperative for them. Amdec is likeminded and answering the call for green rated buildings in South Africa, which has been recognised as the fastest responding country to green building in the world.”
Inefficient buildings stand to become obsolete faster, being less sustainable and Josef highlights that green buildings make for happy tenants too. “They boost productivity and profitability by creating healthy workspaces that also mean lower absenteeism. So they are commercially desirable.”
Developing macro plans for green precincts can help deliver more green buildings, and bigger positive impacts.
“In fact, we are considering taking our next R4 billion mega development of a 128,000ha mixed-use suburb in Port Elizabeth, entirely off the grid,” says Josef.
With soaring energy costs, clients across Amdec’s portfolio of assets, including its Evergreen Lifestyle Villages, enjoy the benefits of Amdec’s energy-efficient, water-efficient and cost-efficient focus. Amdec’s approach to green building goes beyond active green building technologies, also incorporating more subtle elements of green building in design and orientation.
Of course, the commercial sustainability of a building is essential, and is typically at the forefront of every developers mind. It is fundamental to pushing the green button for a project.
For existing buildings, Josef explains that Amdec has prioritised getting ratings for single-tenants buildings. “Then we’ll move on to our multi-tenanted buildings, which can be more challenging,” says Josef.
For Amdec, its green building ethos is simply good business.
“With our sustainability initiatives, we’re not only helping the positive transformation of South Africa through quality green buildings, we’re also up-skilling and educating people, and applying innovative thinking to build better communities, like using material from construction excavation to rehabilitate a public park,” says Wilson.