Editor’s Note

It’s hard to believe January’s already been and gone – and we’re well out of the starting gates for a 2024 that’s packed with promise for the green building sector. But here at +Impact, we’re still celebrating the remarkable achievements of our sustainability champions in 2023.

Like its host, the GBCSA’s Green Building Convention grows from strength to strength each year. The theme at last November’s event – Y/OUR SPACE – was perfectly placed to create room for robust discussion around sustainable building, at the same time honouring the projects and people who’ve succeeded in making a positive impact on the built environment.

At the vibey gala dinner, GBCSA’s annual Leadership Awards were bestowed upon these very deserving recipients. We asked the Established Green Star and Rising Green Star winners and runners up what winning these accolades meant to them (page 36), and they share their stories on what prompted them to pursue a path in the sustainable built environment. Discover more about the outstanding projects that took home the top spots in 11 categories on page 12.

“Green is for everyone,” says GBCSA CEO Lisa Reynolds. Key takeaways from the 16th Green Building Convention were the need for collaboration and inclusivity.

In September last year, a highlight of the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) annual convention was its awards ceremony, which showcase development excellence and celebrate innovation, setting the bar for growth within the real estate industry. Head to page 56 for an overview of the winning entries.

And then there are the planet shapers – the movers and shakers who are informing the future of sustainability in South Africa. Every year, the Greenovate Awards recognise and reward sustainable solutions by young minds in the built environment. Read more about the 2023 award winners on page 48.
While the changemakers quietly get on with it, giant strides are being taken elsewhere – at the end of October 2023, South Africa’s National Assembly voted to pass the Climate Change Bill. This is a massive milestone that sets our country apart as one of the few in the world to enact climate change into law. Will this be the magical solution that aligns civil society, the private sector and the government’s efforts towards a carbon-neutral future? GBCSA’s Bakang Moeng delivers the first instalment on this topic on page 34.

Meanwhile, the WorldGBC has released its Social Impact Across the Built Environment position paper, which marks a significant change in thinking around the scope of a green project’s sustainability reach. Abi Godsell of the GBCSA considers the importance of this report for South Africa and the global green building community (page 46).

As always, we feature some standout properties, and back at home in Pretoria’s Menlyn Maine, the latest addition to this urban precinct is an arresting seven-storey contemporary office building, Park Lane West, (page 26), which has secured its 4-Star Green Star Office As Built rating.

Further south, Northridge Coastal Estate in Cape Town received its first 4-Star Green Star Sustainable Precincts certification in 2019. +Impact revisited the project to see how it’s progressed since then (page 40).

You may be wondering why this issue hadn’t hit the shelves earlier in the year – while we’ll still be delivering the stellar content we always have, it’ll now be in the form of four issues annually.
We hope you’re inspired by our Awards issue – wishing you all a productive and abundantly green year ahead!

Mariola Fouché

Chair’s Corner

The new year is upon us and, phew, what a whirlwind the end of 2023 was. I trust that our readers enjoyed their festive season, and here’s hoping 2024 brings you predictability, prosperity and all that you desire.

Last November saw a fantastic Green Building Convention in Cape Town with some fabulous speakers, and interesting and relevant topics covered in parallel sessions and workshops. While the opening plenary session had Cape Town’s mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and the Western Cape Department Minister for Infrastructure Tertuis Simmers tell us respectively about the City of Cape Town and the Province’s sustainability and climate mitigation journeys, the highlight had to be hearing from the extraordinary Robert Swan – the first person ever to have walked to both the North and South Poles.

Robert, who accepted a challenge set 30 years ago by French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau to save Antarctica from climate change, is also the founder of the 2041 Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the preservation of Antarctica. Robert had the convention delegates on the edge of their seats with tales from his first unassisted march to the South Pole, his walk to the North Pole, his mission to remove and recycle 1 500 tons of waste from the Bellingshausen station in Antarctica, and his multiple attempts to return to the South Pole with his son Barney some years later – all the time interspersed with graphic descriptions of injuries, trials, tribulations and near-death experiences. While his core talking points were inspiring, he used his experiences to foster perseverance, courage and vision, and to challenge leaders to think beyond their business, and consider society and the environment. My takeaway was his mantra, “If you say you’re going to do something, then dammit, do it!”

In addition to a host of interesting topics, the closing plenary session included John Vlismas. Although John is a stand-up comedian with more than 25 years of experience, he delivered his keynote address as the founding partner of OGO Creative, an organisation that blends strategy with live events to assist businesses with being creative and “raising their energy towards finding better patterns”. While he grappled with serious issues like climate change and sustainability, he certainly raised the consciousness of the audience when he contended that humans, as consumers, were the problem – and he did it with all the comedic flair South African audiences have come to know and appreciate.

After a panel discussion on future sustainability trends in the built environment, I delivered the Incoming Chair Address, in which I cautioned against the adoption of accelerated decarbonisation policies without considering the economic costs, or adopting decarbonisation tools developed in other countries without considering our local context. We are currently at the lower end of the business cycle, enduring higher-than-usual interest rates, and investors are likely to hold off until after the 2024 national elections. Coupled with worsening socioeconomic conditions, this means that, for some time, we are unlikely to see the new builds and growth we have experienced in the past.

While the business cycle takes its time to improve, the GBCSA will nevertheless push ahead with updating our rating tools to ensure market alignment, essentially investing now so that when business confidence improves, we are able to offer the market updated tools that drive even greater resource efficiency. We know that the built environment is responsible for one third of all global carbon emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 40% of solid waste generation and 12% of all freshwater consumption, and it is these new certification tools that are going to make a difference.

We simply must educate our finance and property sectors that certification is about resource efficiency, and not only about green credentials.

André Theys
GBCSA Chairman