GBCSA launches Green Star – Communities rating tool in SA

Aerial View Kgoro Precinct GBCSA
An aerial view of Kgoro Precinct in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) today announced the launch of the locally applicable version of the Green Star – Communities rating tool in South Africa. The tool is a framework that will drive the development of more sustainable neighbourhoods and precincts, ultimately making African cities more sustainable.

Green Star – Communities, developed by the Green Building Council Australia, evaluates the sustainability attributes of the planning, design and construction of large scale development projects, at a precinct, neighbourhood, and/or community scale. The Green Star – Communities rating tool assists governments, development project teams, contractors and other interested parties aiming to deliver large scale sustainable developments to:

· Provide diverse, affordable, inclusive, well connected and healthy places to live, work and play;
· Protect, maintain and restore the natural environment by reducing the ecological footprint of developments;
· Receive recognition for demonstrated leadership and commitment to sustainability;
· Achieve real value for money through demonstrated whole-of-life cost savings; and
· Encourage opportunities for business diversity, efficiency, innovation, and economic development.

The tool is being launched in South Africa through a stakeholder engagement process that includes a number of pilot neighbourhood scale projects, which will test and be certified by the GBCSA using the framework. The stakeholder engagement process is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through their South Africa Low Emissions Development Programme and comprises a Technical Advisory Panel including over 30 industry experts who are providing input and guidance on the applicability of the criteria in the Green Star tool in the South African context. The advisory panel includes both private and public sector stakeholders – such as SALGA, the City of Tshwane and Johannesburg – as well as academia.

The process will conclude with the release of a Local Context Report in January 2017. Projects can register for certification under this tool from November 2016 onwards.

GBCSA CEO, Brian Wilkinson says that green building and sustainability in the built environment is about more than just buildings. “It’s also about the spaces, connections and infrastructure between the buildings, a precinct, a neighbourhood, or a city. At this scale one can truly see the real impact of sustainability and make the connection between various daily activities between home, work, gym, school and entertainment.”

Pilot Projects

There are 14 projects that the GBCSA accepted via a call for pilot projects in August 2016, which form part of the Technical Advisory Panel. These pilot projects are vital early adopters to support the long term success and applicability of this Green Star tool in the African context, because they will provide essential feedback allowing the tool to be appropriately adjusted to the local context. Of these 14 projects, eight have already committed to certification using this tool, targeting either a 4, 5 or 6 Star rating from the GBCSA, with the other 6 seriously considering it reviewing the details. These eight projects already targeting certification are listed below and more information on each project is available under Notes to Editors:

1. Braamfontein West, Johannesburg, led by EcoCentric.
2. Blue Rock, Somerset West, developed by Swisatec.
3. Garden Cities: Phase 13 Sunningdale, Cape Town, developed by Garden Cities.
4. Kgoro Precinct, Johannesburg, developed by Ceder Park Properties.
5. Menlyn Maine, Tshwane, developed by Menlyn Maine Holdings.
6. Nature’s Path Lifestyle Village, Keurbooms, Plettenberg Bay, developed by PMG Africa.
7. Oxford Parks, Johannesburg, developed by Intaprop.
8. Sandton Gate, Johannesburg, developed by a joint venture between Abland & Tiber.

The GBCSA will be reviewing the ‘Communities’ name of the tool in the African context, to make it more identifiable with neighbourhood/precinct scale sustainable development projects in Africa, and will announce this in the first quarter of 2017.