GBCSA announces first African school to receive Green Star rating

Streetlight Schools GBCSA Green Rating
A view of the interior public spaces at Streetlight Schools’ 4 Star Green Star SA certified Jeppe Park Primary.

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has great pleasure in announcing that Streetlight Schools’ Jeppe Park Primary is the first school in Africa to receive a Green Star rating, having achieved a 4 Star Green Star SA Interiors v1 certification.

First of several schools in the Streetlight Schools stable to be Green Star certified, Jeppe Park Primary boasts a number of green building and sustainability focused measures, and the focus is on high quality low cost education that puts the well-being of the students first.

The naturally ventilated building with many windows provides the students with access to healthy indoor spaces. Clever use of locally sourced materials provides acoustically designed spaces such as classrooms, libraries, play and social-areas suited to educational purposes. School ground greening allows for various outdoor activities as well as the inclusion of nature as an integral part of learning and development. The use of low emission printers and photocopy equipment, and low VOC compounds, adhesives, sealants and carpets reduce internal air pollutant levels.

The primary school is built in an old shoe factory in inner city Johannesburg – embracing the concept of upcycling – while mostly repurposed and locally sourced materials and furniture have been used. An environmental management plan was implemented for all construction phases, and a waste management plan successfully reduced construction waste by 30%.

The school is within walking distance of Metrorail and Rea-Vaya, two taxi ranks and bus stops, thus providing alternative methods for scholars, staff and visitors to commute to and from the school and encouraging exercise.

An Occupancy and Wellness Users’ Guide has been developed to enlighten occupants about transport facilities, local amenities available in the area, how to use building services to the optimum potential, as well as all aspects regarding staff and student wellness.

Dorah Modise, CEO of the GBCSA says that the organisation is particularly excited about this certification. “Not only does this school bring healthy green spaces and green thinking to disadvantaged scholars, it is also starting the very necessary process of greening the education sector. Beyond how the school was constructed, it’s also operated in an energy, water and waste efficient manner, which will go a long way towards helping these children understand that resources are finite and come at a price”.

The school has gone to great lengths to reduce their waste generation by developing and implementing an Operational Waste Management Plan and providing separation bins, food waste recycling, ‘Bokashi’ composting and recycling waste storage areas.  Education of students in all areas of development and sustainability is evident when you visit the children at the school,” says Modise.

Melanie Smuts, Streetlight Schools’ founder and CEO, says: “When the Fieldworks team and I initially designed the school, our major considerations were cost and how to create a child-friendly space in an industrial area. But it has been amazing to see how many of those same principles also lead to designing an education space that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. And our students love it.”

Solid Green Consulting, the Green Star and sustainability consultants on this project, are particularly noteworthy for the innovative yet budget-friendly approach they took to the project. Architects Fieldworks Design Group are also to be commended for their resourceful approach towards creating a low-cost, green design for an education facility.

“It is encouraging to see schools starting to bring environmental and sustainability measures and initiatives to the forefront of their organisation. Going forward, we look forward to seeing more green transformation in the education sector in South Africa,” concludes Modise.