Sandton Gate, located in South Africa’s economic powerhouse, has been awarded a 4-star certification under the Green Star SA Sustainable Precincts v1.1 tool, following the project’s second-round submission in mid-August. Phase 1 of the development achieved a 5-Star Green Star SA Office v1.1 Design certification in July 2019.
Committing to both Precinct and New Build certifications demonstrates a significant show of leadership from the precinct’s developers, Abland and Tiber.
“We are proud to be a front runner in the green building sector with this development, which is one of the first to be rated under the GBCSA’s Green Star Sustainable Precincts tool,” says Germano Cardoso, Director at Tiber.
“We anticipate that this project will set a benchmark in changing the
mindset around urban development in South Africa.”
Simon van Helsdingen, Property Development Manager at Abland, adds, “In taking a holistic, integrated view to both the precinct and user experience, Sandton Gate aims to attract and retain leading tenants, who will benefit from both the lower operating costs and quality lifestyle on offer. We are looking forward to continuing our upward trajectory as we take the lessons from this development forward into future initiatives.”
A precinct-wide vision
The project is located in Sandton on William Nicol Drive between Sandton Drive and Republic Road. In addition to its proximity to the Sandton CBD, the project falls within the City of Johannesburg’s public transport network and is directly adjacent to the Braamfontein Spruit, one of Johannesburg’s longest natural greenbelts – a situation that offers enormous advantages in terms of sustainable urban development.
From the outset, the developers committed to meet the site-wide requirements under the Sustainable Precincts tool, which was developed to influence and incentivise developers to consider good design, community and environmental outcomes. Credits within the tool – under the categories Governance, Liveability, Economic Prosperity and Environment – are intended to assist in site selection, site analysis and site layout; and include benchmarks for engaging with stakeholders in site planning. Site-wide green infrastructure, in terms of both hard and soft works, is also encouraged.
As part of the precinct’s ongoing sustainable management initiatives, a Community Users’ Guide was developed to give occupants the tools and knowledge to efficiently operate all service and management systems. The Guide describes all green initiatives that have been implemented with the intention of enhancing environmental performance and minimizing environmental impact and harm during Sandton Gate’s operational lifespan. This includes ensuring that all future alterations, additions and programme changes are consistent with the vision of the Users’ Guide and the health of the environment.
Annelide Sherratt, Senior Sustainable Building Consultant at Solid Green Consulting, observed that the mixed-use project received its certification just in time for the GBCSA Convention 2019, which was themed ‘Beyond: Shaping Cities of Tomorrow’.
“This development is a precedent study of what it means to go beyond certifying buildings to apply sustainability at a precinct scale. The project has also gone beyond the limits of the precinct boundary and has committed to the upliftment and upgrading of the Braamfontein Spruit and park adjacent to the site, which will be managed together with the surrounding community.”
In addition to the rehabilitation of Bordeaux Riverside Park, the community management and development initiatives include monthly litter collection as part of the Mayor’s A Re Sebetseng Campaign, investment into cycle paths, art installations, LED night-time lighting, and a community food garden. Community-related information will be disseminated through the website and Sandton Gate App.
Accessibility and non-motorised Transport
The Precinct Plan has been strategically designed to incorporate adequate Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) facilities. An extensive network of walkways will be provided between the residential, commercial and business components, with a shared pedestrian and cycle path along Minerva Avenue to promote the integration of non-motorised transport. Raised pedestrian crossings and universal access design at the internal intersections will supplement the connectivity for NMT users between the various land-uses. In addition, Minerva Road will have a cul-de-sac at either end to restrict through-traffic and provide a safe pedestrian/cyclist environment.
In keeping with the focus on sustainability and well being, strategies have been put in place to promote and support a healthy, active lifestyle in and around the project site. Footpaths are prioritised throughout the project street hierarchy, and dedicated pedestrian sidewalks are provided on both sides of all roads throughout the precinct. Green buffer zones act as a protection layer from motorised circulation, and a continuous pedestrian walkway has been prioritised on the podium level which connects all the commercial developments.
Cyclist networks have been incorporated within the development and on Minerva Avenue, with links to the adjacent park via a bridge and pedestrian crossing. The community food garden and walking paths, implemented as part of the Bordeaux Riverside Park rehabilitation, aim to encourage recreational activity and passive surveillance throughout the park.
Current and future public transport connectivity includes access to the Gautrain Bus Route S4 Randburg-to-Sandton; Gautrain train and bus routes from Sandton Gautrain Station; and the Rea Vaya BRT system, where a trunk route and additional three BRT stations are planned for the vicinity.
Sustainable Practice Incentives
Sandton Gate is a people-centred development and users will be given the opportunity to benefit from living and working in the most sustainable ways possible. The precinct offers numerous incentives for sustainable living, which include:
- a carpooling scheme: to save on travelling costs, the Sandton Gate app will give all users of the precinct the opportunity to either get a lift from or give a lift to a fellow precinct occupant, with the option of sharing travelling costs between passengers.
- bus shelters with solar powered charging facilities, offering users free charging for their devices while on the move.
- a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) which accepts recyclable materials in exchange for credits or tokens from the machine to be utilized at pre-arranged venues for discounts on goods. The RVM, which is controlled with a barcode receiver, accepts only certain products such as cans, bottles and cartons. The initiative encourages recycling and
additionally rewards users of the precinct for doing the right thing.
Three primary waste management schemes have been strategized to decrease the environmental impact of the waste produced on location. Recycling containers will be placed in designated areas for use by business and residential tenants and the public. Materials that are suitable for recycling under this scheme are paper and cardboard; beverage cans; plastic containers and glass containers. On a weekly basis, gardening service providers will remove green waste to a central point for composting. Residential tenants will also be able to make use of this scheme by separating organic waste for collection and disposal as part of the composting scheme.
Residents will also be able to benefit from an additional recycling service at no extra charge, which will provide for the collection and disposal of recycled materials from homes – paper and cardboard, plastic, household metals and glass.
Phase 1 Resource Efficiency
Sandton Gate Phase 1, developed by Abland and Tiber, received a 5-Star Green Star SA Office Design v1.1 rating in July 2019. With a gross floor area of 15,181sqm excluding car parking areas, this commercial development comprises five floors and includes a 2,500sqm gym.
Both energy and water efficiency strategies have been implemented to reduce the overall consumption of the building and associated costs for tenants. An energy model of the building was generated during the design stages. The building design showed an improvement of 60% in energy consumption over a SANS 10400 notional building. Using current Eskom tariffs, the project can expect to save approximately R2,650,000 per annum.
Water saving initiatives include water efficient sanitary fittings, rain and moisture sensors, irrigation at night to reduce evaporation, drip irrigation, and pressure regulation valves. Overall, the water efficiency measures are expected to save approximately 30% over a notional building, or 2740Kl of water per annum. In terms of Johannesburg Water’s 2018/19 rates, this amounts to approximately R100,000 cost saving per annum. The project also anticipates that the installed water-efficient irrigation systems will achieve a 70% reduction of potable water used for irrigation.
The behaviour of occupants and users of the building is critical to reduce the resource consumption of the building. Because gathering information is key to understanding and managing building systems and to assessing opportunities for savings, sub-metering of major energy and water consuming systems will be implemented.
In terms of supporting the transition to sustainable transport, the Phase 1 office development has provided 36 fuel-efficient parking bays in preferred parking spaces dedicated to hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles; 37 dedicated motorbike parking spaces in preferred parking spaces close to the main building entrance; and 40 staff and visitors’ bike storage spaces.
Moving forward, the Building Users’ Guide recommends that new construction should aim to achieve a 30% reduction of the quantity of Portland cement as an average across all concrete mixes; a 60% recycled content of all steel by mass used on the project; and that 50% (by cost) of all timber products used in the building and construction works should be
specified to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, reused or recycled timber.
Sandton Gate provides a new benchmark that realises the opportunity of moving green design beyond the building scale into the public realm, thus contributing positively to the quality of the urban landscape and users’ experiences.