Industrial buildings, like warehouses, manufacturing plants and logistics facilities, play a critical role in the smooth running of national and regional economies.

Words Nicole Cameron


Given their substantial contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, there is a strong case for industrial buildings to be designed or re-designed with sustainable features, which will also future proof these assets in the face of climate change and rising energy, water and waste costs. This is notwithstanding the fact that the economic returns on investments now outweigh the capital outlay for greening and certifying buildings.

The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), in partnership with Growthpoint Properties, is, after three years of preliminary work given the complexity of the industrial property sector, developing a new green building certification that will add tremendous value to industrial properties. The tool’s application to existing buildings makes it particularly high impact, given that for each new development there are thousands of existing ones.

City Industrial Property’s flagship Bellville facility, home to City Logistics in Cape Town, and the In2food Bonaero Park facility, which manufactures food for Woolworths and is situated in the OR Tambo Special Economic Zone, have both achieved the 4-Star Green Star New Building Custom Industrial rating as well as a Net-Zero Carbon rating, and are setting the benchmark for other industrial developments across the country.


City Industrial Property (CIP) develops property tailored to clients’ needs, with facilities varying from 2000m² to 46 000m² in size and ranging from warehousing and distribution facilities to specialised factory and workshop facilities.
“In 2018, we set up a division called Project Green, which was tasked with rolling out the sustainability strategy of the fund and its shareholders,” explains Rory Clark, project manager at CIP. “We reviewed all existing properties within the portfolio and identified specific interventions that would improve energy efficiency and water management across each site. We began with the easy wins, such as converting all warehouse lighting to LEDs and installing smart meters. Tenants are provided with a transparent cloud-based platform that shows real-time data on utility consumption and spend, providing visibility with regards to what is driving their total utility cost. This is a solid first step, as you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” he says.

“For any new-build projects we have developed our own ‘green print’ of design criteria that is now applied to all new builds,” Clark says. “The majority of our properties are logistics warehouses that do not have a massive energy demand, but they do have a lot of roof space for the installation of solar power. Roof material is carefully selected to allow for the penetration of natural light, and, to minimise lighting usage, the LEDs are activated by intelligent sensors. When it comes to maximising water efficiency, rain harvesting systems are installed with grey water used where possible.”

City Logistics has set a benchmark for other industrial developments across South Africa wishing to certify their facilities.

Smart design

The company’s Bellville facility shows true leadership in the sector, as one of just three Net-Zero Carbon industrial certifications – essentially meaning that the building is as energy efficient as possible and that the energy that is required for building operations is sourced from renewable energy, resulting in net-zero carbon emissions from energy over a year.

Project architect Peter Williams of Lika Architectural Services says that they were briefed to design an office component of approximately 1 000m², a 12 000m² warehouse and small workshop for the facility. “Although you approach the site from the southern side, the office component was placed towards the north side of the site to take advantage of the all-day northern sunlight. A large curtain window was also used on the northern façade allowing lots of natural light into the offices. Performance glazing was used to assist with temperature control and the ablution block was placed along the eastern side to block out early sunlight into the space,” he says. “The design and layout of the offices allow for 69.5% of the occupied spaces to have access to external views.”

The Bellville facility is as energy efficient as possible: the energy required for operations is sourced from renewable energy, resulting in net-zero carbon emissions from energy over a year.

Going for green building certification voluntarily means that our customers are aware of our priorities as a business.

Williams says that the warehouse includes large panels of translucent sheeting on all four sides, which ensures that none of the LED lights will have to be used on a sunny day. A total number of 59 loading docks have been provided along the north, south and western sides, with canopies protecting all the shutter doors from the elements. Ventilation louvres and more translucent sheeting has also been provided along the higher vertical areas of the roof.

The Cape Town facility has a 120.6kW rooftop solar photovoltaic array, which provides renewable energy all year round. Mixed mode ventilation also contributes to energy efficiency, together with improved indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and light-emitting diode light fittings and efficient lighting control systems, which also contribute to energy efficiency. Low-flow sanitaryware fittings and rainwater harvesting contribute to water efficiency and resilience, and 80% of the water from the facility’s wash bay gets collected, filtered and re-used for the washing of the vehicles at the facility.

There are parking spaces for fuel efficient cars as well as for motorbikes and scooters. The building has been designed with easy access for any disabled person.

Zero ozone depleting potential insulation is used in the facility, as well as low volatile organic compound internal finishes that have environmental benefits and contribute to improved indoor environmental quality, which has significant benefits for the occupants of the facility. The facility has a dedicated waste management area, where recyclables are sorted and managed, thus sending less waste to landfill. There are seven parking spaces dedicated for fuel efficient cars, and a further seven for motorbikes or scooters. The building has also been designed with easy access into the building for any disabled person.

“The payback periods for the sustainability initiatives we have in place here make it a practical choice,” says City Industrial Property MD David St Clair. “And going for green building certification voluntarily means that our customers are aware of our priorities as a business. Our facilities, like our business, are resilient and ready for the future.”


The In2Food Bonaero Park facility, with a total gross floor area of 22 282m², has been called the biggest fresh food facility in the southern hemisphere, offering the largest variety of produce. The facility includes food preparation and storage, along with offices, a canteen, staff showers and a medical clinic.

Alex Varughese, modelling and simulations consultant at Solid Green, who was the accredited professional on the project, comments on the impressive sustainability features which makes the industrial property a leading trendsetter: “The site is refrigerated by means of a CO2 refrigeration system which uses less energy, has zero ODP (Ozone Depleting Potential) and exceptionally low GWP (Global Warming Potential) gas. The entire system produces about 3MW cooling capacity for the facility,” he says. “Due to the fact that all hot water is heated by the warmth produced by the CO2 refrigeration system, there is a reduced need for heat pumps and geysers. The boilers and the industrial kitchen use only natural gas, and a Limpsfield Burner ensures boiler efficiency and reduced carbon emission.”

The Bonaero Park site also features a PV system that generates a staggering 2 191MWh per annum, resulting in a 30% energy saving. LED fittings feature throughout, and all water and energy sources are measured through a building management system (BMS) with an extended building tuning programme in place for five years. Four boreholes provide water for the facility, with a 600kL storage capacity on site to reduce municipal water usage. Water used during the vegetable cutting process is recycled.

The tool’s application to existing buildings makes it particularly high impact, given that for each new development there are thousands of existing ones.

Throughout the construction process, a project-specific environmental management plan was developed and implemented, with guidelines established on how to minimise the environmental impact of construction activities. A waste management plan was implemented during the project to minimise waste to landfill.

An ambitious journey
Malcolm Moore, group project and risk manager at In2Food comments: “The In2food Group, with 10 sites nationally working 24/7, every day of the year, has always been conscious of its energy, water, waste and carbon usage. With the new build at our state-of-the-art facility in Bonaero Park, we decided that this was the time to put our money where our mouth is and go green in the interests of a sustainable environment.”

Recognising the impact of their operations on the environment, the company has embarked on a journey of sustainability through its Lotana sustainability project, and this accolade is the first step in reaching its goal of being carbon zero rated by 2023. Besides Lotana, a new company called “In2energy” was established, focusing on the installation of solar and water treatment plants at its other facilities.

“With their 4-Star Green Star New Building Custom Industrial rating and Net-Zero Carbon ratings, both CIP and In2Food are forerunners in a market that is steadily moving towards the goal of all new buildings operating at net zero by 2030 and all existing buildings operating at net zero by 2050,” says Georgina Smit, GBCSA technical head. “As pioneers in greening the industrial sector, they are demonstrating that it is possible to achieve and maintain the ambitious commitments required to meet the national and international climate change targets,” she concludes.