With the launch of the pilot phase of the New Build V2 tool set for later this year, each category is gearing up towards implementation – but who are they aimed at, and what can you expect? We look at three of the eight categories in more depth.

The Green Star New Build V2 tool per category, unpacked:


Minimum requirements: Climate-Change Resilience
Other credits: Operations-; Social-; and Heat Resilience

How do you continue operations when it’s not business as usual? That’s what the RESILIENT category wants project teams to consider. According to founder and director of Ecocentric and category director Jutta Berns, this category speaks directly to what investors are looking for, and is aligned with the JSE, sustainability and climate-change disclosure requirements. “It pushes developers, policy makers and design teams to break free from conventional thinking and explore state-of-the-art solutions that bolster resilience.”
There are four elective credits against which points can be awarded, with one minimum requirement embedded into the category.

CLIMATE-CHANGE RESILIENCE encourages teams to assess and communicate the building’s exposure to climate-change risks in a specific location, and to have plans in place to mitigate those risks.
According to Yovka Raytcheva-Schaap, Technical Specialist at Zutari engineering consultants and task force member, there are two levels to target the credit. The first is the development of a climate-change risk and an adaptation assessment, using a template provided by the GBCSA. This is done by the project team. The second pathway requires the appointment of a specialist in climate-risk assessments and adaptation who carries out a more detailed, project-specific assessment, based on a recognised methodology. The latter pathway allows for targeting of the maximum available points.
Berns elaborates that building design, construction and location is of relevance, and emphasises the importance of thinking ahead: “You have to try and predict future data through science, and use it together with historic data to design a building that will still stand for another 20, 40 or 50 years.”

OPERATIONS RESILIENCE aims at mitigating the impact of acute shock (short-term disruptions, such as an earthquake or floods) and chronic stress (longer-term disruptions, like aging infrastructure or access to water and electricity) on an operational level. To gain points, teams must firstly carry out a comprehensive risk assessment, and for a better ranking, the involvement of a professional is required. According to Berns, elements to consider range from energy, water and communication to digital infrastructures and systems, and could include the availability of the plans for the building, contact lists for when the communication network drops, or not only relying on elevators.

“Even if the measures are not fully implemented at this point in time,” Raytcheva-Schaap says, “it is important that the buildings are designed such that they can be fitted at a later stage.” Concerning electricity, she adds that all new projects they are working on are moving towards alternative energy installations, most of which include solar PV Systems. According to her, it not only maintains operational resilience, but is also a more environmentally friendly alternative to the use of generators.

SOCIAL RESILIENCE adopts a strategic approach to mitigate the impact of acute shocks and chronic stress on the building’s occupants or users, and the surrounding community. To achieve points, buildings targeting this particular credit must have a social resilience plan for the building to act as a support structure in times of crisis. This may be improving community health and wellbeing, or providing opportunities for local employment, skills development, training and education.
Raytcheva-Schaap says a building designed to store additional volumes of water “could provide water for the neighbouring community in case of water interruptions”. Berns uses a major power outage as an example: “[The building’s power amenities could be designed such that] people would be able to come into the building to charge their equipment.”

The HEAT RESILIENCE credit leans more towards design requirements than strategic planning and, says Berns, it encourages design teams to reduce the overall heat-island effect of built-up areas. “It’s similar to credits we already have for other Green Star tools, like the Multi Unit Residential and the Retail Centre tools,” she says. Elements to consider include green roofs, cool roof coating, roof covering and roof-top PV installations.

In the built environment, you have to solve both the environmental and the socio-economic challenges.


Minimum requirements: Contribution to Place
Other credits: Identity of Place; Movement and Connectivity; and Safer Spaces

One of the goals of the Places category is the appropriate integration of projects with their location.

Lapalala Wilderness School, Sean Gibson

The PLACES category – according to Adrie Fourie, category director and head of the Sustainable Cities and Research department at Solid Green Consulting – highlights the imperative that building design should no longer be regarded in isolation. The credits aim to ensure improved social cohesion, the appropriate integration of projects with their location and a commitment to people-centred design.

“In the built environment, you have to solve both the environmental and the socio-economic challenges,” says Marc Sherratt, task force member and Managing Director at MSSA. “There hasn’t been the understanding that you must solve both challenges simultaneously. We live in Africa, and we have dire socio-economic challenges – if not solved, these will result in our countries crumbling.”

The category has its challenges, but task force member and partner at DHK architects, Peter Stokes, says we shouldn’t be discouraged: “If you’re a good designer, you should not be scared of this category.”

Rammed earth is traditional to cultures in the Limpopo region, at a smaller scale. It’s known as thidelo in tshi-Venda, and thitelo in si Pedi.

Lapalala Wilderness School, Sean Gibson

CONTRIBUTION TO PLACE ensures the development of an integrated design team response to the contextual opportunities and challenges of a site, while ensuring projects create accessible spaces that can contribute to community building and interactive engagement. As a minimum requirement, a checklist is being developed to help teams cover the basics themselves. Stokes believes this is low-hanging fruit.

MOVEMENT AND CONNECTIVITY encourages mobile diversity that builds on the opportunities of a building’s design and location to encourage occupants and visitors to use active, low-carbon and public transport options. Stokes believes it’s one of the more difficult credits, because it is influenced by its location and accessibility, and if a building is in the city centre, the team will have to drive it. “I’ve worked on schemes where they’ve developed green transport plans to enable connectivity and transportation by offering tickets, finding a bus system, or encouraging a local transport system to extend its route if there are enough people.”

Zendré Compion, Sustainable Building consultant and task force member, advises that “instead of considering place-related credits as being difficult, the industry needs to realise the great impact that early decisions around location and available infrastructure can have on sustainability throughout the building lifecycle.”

As the starting point of implementing this credit, it would be expected that a project performs the mobility assessment and Mobility Plan. To achieve more points, the project must demonstrate that at least three initiatives that contribute to sustainable mobility have been implemented. “The second part of this credit is the practical implementation in response to the relevant challenges and opportunities for sustainable mobility, and the project is encouraged to show how the building’s design and location encourage walking, cycling and public transport,” says Compion.

So why go through the trouble? Stokes uses a retail scheme as example: “The more people you can get interfacing with that building, the more successful the tenants will be, and the financing of those buildings becomes easier.”

IDENTITY OF PLACE urges teams to find appropriate ways to reflect the local culture, heritage and identity by publicly demonstrable design interventions.
As the starting point when considering this credit, the goal is to ensure that the relevant research has been done. Professional teams will have to submit a culture and heritage report of the site and be able to document the research.

“The next level is to implement a project out of this research, communicating with the public realm and expressing information on the street edge as to how the building is designed to educate people with regard to its local history and culture,” says Sherratt. “This can include public artworks, for example.” The highest tier requires social upliftment and requires proof of engagement with the site’s vulnerable communities. “[These can be] things like public toilets or integrating with the informal waste recyclers, without compromising security,” he adds.

SAFER SPACES rewards design teams for an integrated approach to ensuring that a site is safe through its design. According to Fourie, the intent is to create safer spaces that support all end-users while accommodating the South African context and focusing on a people-centred design.
Stokes elaborates with the following advice: “Most people overthink it. They think the only way to make something safe is to put a high fence around it with lots of spikes, and lights and cameras and sensors, but that makes for a very inhumane environment.” He believes safety should be built into the design via, for example, the design of thresholds, the inclusion of passive surveillance or good lighting.


Minimum requirements: Impacts on Nature
Other credits: Ecological Regeneration; Nature Connectivity; Nature Stewardship; and Waterway Protection

The credits in the NATURE category calls on the anti-extinction warriors, conservation stewards and biodiversity creators. There’s also room for engineers to prove their worth and, according to category director and Technical Principal at MPAMOT Mike Aldous, they are not only targeted at organisations with large land portfolios. “The objective is to be as universally accessible as possible, allowing project teams to plot their own compliance path based on opportunities and site constraints.”

IMPACTS ON NATURE aims to safeguard the ecological value of a site, protecting watercourses and discouraging development in sensitive natural areas, while aligning with the local biodiversity context. Aldous says they tried to simplify the process by aligning the requirements with current legislation. “Some of the basic criteria would be considering development within the proximity of watercourses, the impact on wetlands, or the site’s ecological value and sensitivity.” Along with that, credits from previous tools have been incorporated in a progressive-option manner, and include aspects around light as well as conserving existing natural soil, hydrological and vegetation elements.

According to Marc Sherratt, the Regeneration credit has already been successfully implemented in a pilot project in Midrand, Gauteng. It formed part of the Firmenich project, which also received the GBCSA’s first Net Positive Ecology Rating.


The ECOLOGICAL REGENERATION credit encourages teams to move away from exotic landscaping towards reintroducing locally indigenous landscapes and biodiversity. “In one sense, you have a prescriptive pathway,” says Aldous, “where you have 10% of plants from one species, 20% of plants from one genus and 30% of plants from one family. It forces you to take a more integrated landscaping approach.”

The Firmenich project – GBCSA

According to Sherratt, who is also on this task force, there are three points in this credit: “The first is if 60% of your plants are locally indigenous, the next level is two points for 80% of your plants being locally indigenous, and then three points for 100% locally indigenous plants.” This credit is also not restrictive, because the emphasis is on regeneration rather than restoration. “Restoration is you bringing back the original species. Regeneration speaks to the freedom to choose the landscape that would bring the most biodiversity back,” says Sherratt.

The GBCSA teamed up with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) to support the project team’s outcome. According to Sherratt, SANBI has an online vegetation map of the whole country. It can be used by anyone and provides lists of site-specific plants.

Sherratt adds that there are various benefits: natural biodiverse landscapes absorb more carbon than exotic landscapes, giving you a carbon sequestration advantage, and the budget allocation for landscaping can be lower when considering the full lifecycle of selection.

NATURE CONNECTIVITY aims at connecting species throughout the site, and to adjacent sites, at least within a 500m radius of the project site. As a basic requirement, connectivity should be achieved by providing an ecological stepping stone to existing habitats.

The Nature category calls on the anti-extinction warriors, conservation stewards and biodiversity creators.

Dr Peta Brom, Senior Sustainability Consultant and Certification Operations Manager at Ecolution, says it’s possible for even urban renewal projects to gain at least one point. The team should do an assessment of the fauna in the specific area, identify their lifecycles and enhance the habitat or features of the development accordingly. You could, for example, provide bird boxes as well as natural grazing or nesting material to attract certain species.

To reach exceptional levels, Aldous says, “The site must be built to encourage structural connectivity and demonstrate continuous unbroken connectivity with the natural area.” According to Brom, you must address structural barriers, such as roads between landscaped areas, in such a way that small animals can safely move between natural and landscaped areas.

NATURE STEWARDSHIP encourages project teams to provide restoration or protection activities beyond the development boundary. According to Aldous, it’s tricky, because it’s off-site, and the team is still working through some of the legalities of how these projects can be achieved and maintained in South Africa.

Brom is, however, excited. “I’ve seen a groundswell in community initiatives where people are adopting a relatively degraded patch of natural habitat and getting involved in various levels of rehabilitation activities.” Initiatives like these will now be acknowledged officially on various levels.

WATERWAY PROTECTION is, says Aldous, very much geared towards blending engineering with delivering a sustainable urban drainage system, and the goal is to minimise any negative impact on the natural watercourses. Elements to consider are preventing increased development run-off volume and intensity when natural environments make way for impermeable development, as well as minimising contamination in the form of total suspended solids, nitrates and phosphates from man-made sources.

“Most of the bigger municipalities have started implementing various storm-water management and sustainable urban drainage design requirements within their basic urban planning and township approval processes,” says Aldous. “We’ve been trying to stitch these together in such a way that we come up with a nationally applicable standard that pulls the best practices together.”


“We are looking for projects to pilot this tool,” says the GBCSA’s Head of Technical, Georgina Smit. GBCSA encourages and invites any stakeholders currently planning a new build project to consider embarking on this pioneering industry journey with them by piloting this tool on their project. GBCSA is able to support this process and will allow the current tools to also be used concurrently. “Please let us know if you are interested in joining this industry initiative, and to be part of writing the next chapter of green building history,” says Smit.