Developments News

Botswana celebrates its first Green Star-rated building

An artist's impression of the Motswere building in Botswana.
An artist's impression of the Motswere building in Botswana.

The first Green Star-rated office in Botswana signals a milestone in green building development for the country.

The new Motswere building – the first addition to Prime Plaza 11 in Gaborone’s CBD – was recently awarded a five-star Green Star Africa – Office Design v1.1 rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

The Prime Plaza development, owned by PrimeTime Property Holdings, consists of four existing commercial buildings (Prime Plaza I), each named after a species of local indigenous tree. Motswere is the first of four commercial buildings which will make up Prime Plaza II, which will be developed in phases. The building’s name derives from the Leadwood Combretum trees that inhabit the piece of land.

PrimeTime invests in a diversified portfolio of office, retail, and industrial properties throughout Botswana and Zambia. Motswere is the first of PrimeTime’s large property portfolio to achieve third party green certification.

In a competitive market, PrimeTime’s ability to offer a Green Star rated building to an increasingly environmentally and ethically aware tenant base is a great advantage,” notes Joe Simpson of PrimeTime. 

The 2 780m² Motswere building, designed by Paul Munnik Architects, consists of three levels of A-grade office space and supporting facilities, and two basement parking levels, set among more open-air parking and water wise landscaped gardens. The five-Star Green Star rating signifies national excellence and requires a standard of innovative green design that goes beyond the basics of green building practices.  

A green building responds to local environmental conditions, while also considering global realities such as increasingly scarce and expensive energy and resources. Green buildings also respond to the need for comfortable and healthy indoor spaces for building occupants. Green Star is an integrated rating system, which helps to improve a building’s environmental performance and recognises environmental leadership. It looks at energy, water, materials/waste, indoor environment quality, land use and ecology, transport, emissions, and management. 

Motswere boasts high levels of energy and water efficiency, as well as state-of-the-art mechanical ventilation and building management systems. Kagiso Sebetso, in-house green building consultant at Time Projects (PrimeTime’s development and asset management arm), adds: “Botswana is a very hot country, for most of the year. Having a building so well oriented with south and north facing glazing that is provided with optimum shading, is quite an achievement when one considers the related reduction in energy consumption.” 

The project was not without its challenges, one being hit with the 2020 lockdown during the design phase, which meant that all team meetings went online. “This was still a very new concept at the time,” says Sebetso. “Being a pioneer comes with multiple challenges, particularly with regulatory bodies, such as seeking approval for Solar PV installation for a building that is not yet developed. Educating potential suppliers or subcontractors about the green practices that they are expected to price for, and therefore deliver on, is more challenging than one would anticipate, but is so worthwhile.”  

While the project experienced some delays due to Covid-19, teamwork and enthusiasm were key to the project’s eventual success. “The team values and understands the concept of not only designing green but also building green and without their buy-in and dedication, we would not have been able to achieve the certification,” Sebetso adds. 

It is hoped that the Motswere building is just the start of a new wave of green-rated developments for Botswana and other parts of Africa. Green Star accredited professional on the project, Dash Coville, from Solid Green Consulting, says that the green building movement is gaining momentum in Gaborone, with Solid Green being involved with the certification of three other projects (including one with PrimeTime).  

GBCSA strongly supports the growth of green buildings in Africa and have certified projects in several other African countries. This project is GBCSA’s first Green Star-rated building in Botswana. “Green buildings are part of Africa’s solution to cope with future climate change and stimulate new economic opportunities,” says GBCSA’s head of technical, Georgina Smit. “We are immensely proud of PrimeTime and the project team for embarking on this pioneering project for the local context, and we congratulate them on their commitment towards demonstrating sustainability leadership”.    

Sustainability features of the building: 

  • Optimal orientation of the building to suit the location.
  • Building tuning of the mechanical, electrical, wet services and irrigation services.
  • Efficient waste management during the construction phase.
  • On-site recycling facilities.
  • Maximising on daylight to lower electrical lighting, while providing daylight glare control.
  • Use of low Volatile Organic Compound materials indoors.
  • Low electric lighting levels and low lighting power density, along with lighting zoning controls.
  • A building users’ guide helps building occupants to understand and maximise the building’s sustainable features.
  • Preferential parking bays for fuel-efficient transport.
  • Cyclist’s facilities for building users and visitors.
  • Water efficiency achieved using low flush rate sanitaryware and use of non-potable water in the irrigation system.
  • Use of solar PV for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.