It takes years of unwavering commitment and dedication to bring a worthy cause to fruition. For 15 years, Green Building Council South Africa has been holding the sustainability torch aloft for transformation in the green building sector, and a better life for people and planet. Congratulations, GBCSA, on your 1 000th Green Star certification! Read about the newly certified structure – Stellenbosch University’s heritage Visual Arts Building – which achieved a 6-Star Green Star rating under the Existing Building Performance (EBP) version 1 tool, on page 20.
On the subject of recognition, nothing gives our team greater pleasure than to celebrate +Impact magazine’s winning Property Publication of the Year at SAPOA’s annual awards ceremony in September. As the publishing mouthpiece of the GBCSA, we couldn’t be prouder of this accolade, and to be an active part of the drive towards positive change in the property sector. Thanks to the efforts of our dedicated team, and especially to our Director, Danielle Solomons, who steers this ship with expertise, in-depth knowledge and a can-do attitude, so we can consistently inform and inspire through impactful pieces.
November is set to be an exciting month for sustainability, with Africa’s most powerful green gathering taking place on 15–17 November. GBCSA’s 16th Green Building Convention promises an exciting array of topics and discussions – food for thought and inspiration for collective action towards a greener future. On page 30, we’ve interviewed some of the thought leaders and industry professionals on this platform, who’ll be sharing their knowledge and insights to inspire, educate and drive change in the sustainable development space. We hope to see you there!
As always, we showcase the tireless work of the GBCSA, and our cover project – a premium-grade office development at 144 Oxford in Rosebank – is a striking example of supremely elegant design meeting innovative sustainability initiatives. On page 42, we present this latest addition to a portfolio targeting Net Zero Carbon by 2030.
Elsewhere on the planet, during 11–15 September 2023, the WorldGBC and their network of over 75 Green Building Councils (GBCs) united in a call to the global green building community for total systemic transformation of the building and construction sector. Learn more about World Green Building Week 2023 on page 52.
Back in the Western Cape, Greenbay Barn Lifestyle Centre is the hub of a new property development in Gordon’s Bay that recently achieved a 6-Star Green Star Custom Lifestyle Centre Design rating (page 56).
With the launch of the New Build V2 tool imminent, we unpack the last three categories – Positive, Leadership and People – in our Transforming Tomorrow series on page 66.
Aiming to raise the bar for sustainable precincts is Newinbosch, in Stellenbosch, which plans to establish itself as the greenest mixed-use development in the country (page 74). The project is targeting a 5-Star Green Star Sustainable Precincts rating, which would make it the first such development in South Africa.
As we edge towards to a circular economy, the waste we generate should be minimal, according to the Don’t Waste Group, who share their thoughts on page 82 as to how buildings should be consciously designed to make adequate space for waste management – and not just removal.
The Precinct Luxury Apartments development in Midrand is constantly evolving towards higher sustainability standards, changing both the market and mindset of middle-market residential tenants, one unit at a time – see how, on page 86.
To round off this bumper end-of-year issue, we look at Redefine Properties’ recent Net Zero Carbon Level 2 Measured certification for three of their existing Gauteng buildings. It’s the first time that commercial buildings at scale in South Africa have attained a “measured” rating, based on actual performance data. See more about this achievement on page 94.
And with that, on behalf of the +Impact team and our extended team, we wish you a safe and restful break over the holiday season (it’ll be here before you know it)…
By the time you read this, you should be prepping for your attendance at 2023’s Green Building Convention in Cape Town, or deciding on which sessions to attend. I am always excited to see what Lisa Reynolds, Tamlynne Wilton-Gurney and their respective teams have created for us and the delegates. This year’s theme is about SPACE, and not necessarily physical space, such as the built environment, but a “space for a robust discussion that inspires actionable outcomes”.
This entire phrase got me thinking quite hard. Allow me to explain. In updating my employer’s sustainability strategy, I came across material that pointed to the “use of more efficient modes of transport and use of new technologies” as opportunities towards a decarbonised future. My mind then wandered to electric vehicles (EVs) and whether embracing EVs, now, is the correct approach for South Africa, given our context.
What triggered me was an old column by American economist Thomas Sowell that decried California’s approach to enforcing EV quotas on automobile manufacturers, which he claimed was the cause of California’s electricity crisis or, as he put it, “a result of years of refusing to have any sense of proportion between the desirability of environmental goals and the desirability of having electricity”. While the article hasn’t dated well in some respects – it still bemoaned EVs for not having sufficient range or being powerful enough to move at reasonable speed – he wasn’t wrong when he asked what difference it makes when the EV does not create pollution, but the pollution occurs at an electric power station. This is still the reality today in South Africa and all renewable generation is being snapped up to mitigate against load shedding. I believe that as our grid develops, with or without Eskom, our focus will continue to be on reliable energy production or just keeping the lights on. Then it will be about producing energy to meet the developmental needs of the economy before one can consider the necessary charging infrastructure EVs will no doubt require to become mainstream. But my anxiety goes beyond that – it deals solely with the potential unemployment we could face.
The rest of the world has been “pumping their own gas” for as long as I can tell, while in South Africa, we rely on petrol pump attendants. According to the Department of Energy, we have around 5 000 petrol stations, while according to the South African Petroleum Industry Association, we have 4 600 petrol stations in the country. Either number is large, and according to the South African Petroleum Retailers Association, these petrol stations employ some 73 000 personnel. My worry is how will we absorb these inevitable job losses should EVs become mainstream, as is being called for. Our economy has proven to be structurally “stuck”, lacks the agility and is therefore unable to allow for “just transitions”; and these petrol pump attendants are but one sector – others are beyond the scope of this column.
Greencape’s Electric Vehicles 2020 Market Intelligence Report noted five-year exponential growth in momentum in the EV market, primarily driven by commitments to emission reduction. While South Africa has a significant automobile manufacturing sector that could easily transition to a thriving EV market promising economic growth and job creation, current media reports suggest that the EV momentum may be slowing.
Recent developments and market forces might slow down the momentum, and allow the thinking, creativity and space required for the transition that is worrying me. Bloomberg reports that Chinese EVs are piling up with no market demand and a large German manufacturer, which had previously committed to a 100% EV future, recently announced two new internal combustion engines (ICEs), while Japanese manufacturers continue to pin their hopes on hybrids. The UK Prime Minister’s policy U-turn, where he pushed back the deadline for the selling of ICEs and halted the expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ), was allegedly based on wanting to take a “more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach”.
Perhaps Thomas Sowell may then be pleased to know that it appears there is a “sense of proportion” after all, and that “other benefits will be sacrificed, and other costs will be paid”. Maybe, just maybe, my worry is unjustified.