Chair’s Corner

I was relieved to have submitted my final assignment for the “Business and Climate change towards Net Zero Emissions” short course run through the University of Cambridge in early April. I enjoyed connecting with international lecturers and delegates, and it is inspiring to think that there are many millions of us ʻgreenies’ across the globe. What we are trying to achieve can often feel overwhelming, but it’s encouraging to know how far and wide we are in the good fight towards making a positive difference.

Our winter edition of +Impact magazine is once again packed full of interesting content. In Johannesburg, we are fortunate to have a relatively short winter season. However, we have been experiencing rather unusual winter rains – climate change impact.

A 6-Star rating always deserves to be celebrated, and The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront has achieved a 6-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance v1 rating. In addition to solar, the building makes use of natural light and ventilation in its design. Our article shares insights from this project.

In our third instalment of Transform Tomorrow – all about the Green Star New Build v2 tool and its implications – we delve deeper into the Resilient, Places and Nature categories as they gear up towards implementation later this year.

Setting a benchmark for sustainable premium office space is the Nexus 1 building – accredited with a 5-Star Green Star Office Design v1.1 rating and the first net-zero carbon level 1 building within Gauteng’s world-class Waterfall City. We look at how it contributes towards the green evolution of this world-class smart city.

It is extremely exciting to see industrial buildings being rated with the launch of the new Green Star- Existing Building Performance (EBP) Custom Industrial pilot rating tool by the GBCSA during 2022. There is huge opportunity for industrial building ratings at a national level. The tool is aimed at rewarding buildings that are managed well, demonstrate good operational performance over a measured period, and contribute to better quality spaces for tenants. Investec Property Fund has rated a number of their assets via this tool.

Fujifilm’s new five-storey head office building in Sandton was constructed to align with Fujifilm Holdings’ climate-action targets, to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2041. The Sandton head office is well on its way to this target, as it recently achieved a Net Zero Carbon Level 1 Base Building Emissions certification through the GBCSA. +Impact unpacks the sustainable initiatives of the building and how it managed to attain this certification.

Then there’s an insightful thought-leadership article from Georgie Chennels, entitled “Space Sense – Exploring the Role that People Play”. At the heart of it, the built environment is all about people, and the use of various types of spaces, whether residential, retail, office or industrial.

This is my final chairman’s report, as I hand over the reins to Andre Theys after the GBCSA AGM in July. I can’t believe that a year and half have gone by in my role as chair. I wish Andre all of the best in his tenure and am proud to be handing the organisation over to him in the state that it is.

A few areas that I wanted to give attention to during my time as chair included broadening the appeal of the GBCSA to more sectors within the built environment, emphasising the importance of tenants as significant occupiers of space in the built environment and the impact that they can make, and modernisation of the rating tools.

I am delighted to remain on the GBCSA board after my term as chair, so I can continue to serve the industry that I love.

Warm wishes

Brian Unsted
GBCSA Chairman

Editor’s note

As the daughter of an architect, I have fond memories of traipsing behind my late father as a child on frequent inspections of the churches he’d designed for Cape Flats communities. At home, my walls are adorned with framed illustrations of iconic historical structures, painstakingly hand-drawn for his portfolio as a student in the ’50s.

How times have changed since then – for better, and for worse. He’d have been amazed and proud of the way the built environment has adapted and evolved as we become increasingly aware of our impact on the planet.

Having always nurtured a fondness for design and sustainability, I’m honoured to be wearing a new hat as editor of +Impact magazine, a space that showcases the great strides being made by the building and construction sector towards a greener, more sustainable future. The Green Building Councils of the world work tirelessly towards accelerating change, reducing our carbon and waste footprints, and helping reshape our energy landscape.

Underscoring the value of green economy growth is the MSCI South Africa Green Annual Property Index, which, in 2022, continued to support the investment case for energy and resource-efficient real estate. On page 28, you can read more about how green-certified prime and A-grade offices haave outperformed non-certified offices of similar quality by 20.9% since 2016.

As a Cape Town native, I’m used to winter showers, but it’s been many years since we’ve experienced so much rain (and the resultant havoc) so early on in the season. Weather extremes seem to have become the norm. In a nod to this – and August being Women’s Month – we asked some of the amazing women on Green Building Council South Africa’s board to share their views on leadership in the climate-change arena.

An essential part of the sustainability solution is a circular economy. The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is the largest and most influential local-regional-global action network, championing the transformation to sustainable and decarbonised built environments for everyone, everywhere.
On 31 May, GBCSA Planet Shapers co-hosted an online launch of the WorldGBC Circular Built Environment Playbook, delivered by its Circularity Accelerator global programme, which calls for a circular economy and resource efficiency in the built environment. Through the playbook, the WorldGBC network aspires to increase awareness and accessibility of circular economy solutions. Green Building Council South Africa’s Michelle de Nysschen was joined by Adrian Jackson, Circularity Accelerator Programme Officer, WorldGBC; Dorota Bacal, Sustainability and Innovation Lead, VinZero; Cinthia Espino Castillo, Associate at Foster + Partners Sustainability Group; and Alison Groves, Regional Director at WSP in Africa. You can listen to the webinar here.

As always, we continue to celebrate these champions of change – we hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Mariola Fouché