The first industrial buildings – in Investec Property Fund’s portfolio – have been awarded their Green Stars using the customised Existing Building Performance Custom Industrial PILOT tool.

Words Melinda Hardisty IMAGES Investec Property Fund


Investec Property Fund’s existing industrial buildings earn their stars

The Green Building Council South Africa’s Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating tool has been available for a few years now. It’s aimed at rewarding buildings that are managed sustainably well, can demonstrate good operational performance over a measured period, and contribute to better-quality spaces for tenants. Although designed for use on as many building types as possible, the increased demand for it on industrial building justified a customisation to update some elements for consistency.

Late in 2020, adaptation of the tool commenced so that it could be used to measure operational performance of industrial buildings. The Existing Building Performance Custom Industrial PILOT tool was launched in June 2022.

Existing Industrial Buildings Tool

Industrial buildings have some very different operational requirements from commercial properties. Certain building types such as offices, large shops, places of assembly and educational buildings were able to use the original EBP tool in its standard form. In practice, it has largely been successfully utilised for commercial office projects. Some other typologies like multi-unit residential, light manufacturing, warehousing, indoor sport facilities, healthcare and laboratories could apply to have some criteria adjusted for their needs through an eligibility ruling from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). While some industrial buildings have received Green Star ratings using this tool, it also highlighted some of the areas that needed to be a little more specialised.

39 Imvubu Park Place comprises 9 715m² of industrial space.

GBCSA Technical Manager Jenni Lombard explains that the new tool was created in response to the growing industrial sector, the unique building operations, the lack of relevant energy and water benchmarks, and the huge variance in landlord and tenant responsibilities. Lombard explains that the tool development involved a “customisation process to offer the market a standardised guideline for energy and water benchmarking for industrial buildings, as this currently does not exist in the South African property market. It also clarifies the nuances around industrial building ownership. For instance, many tenancies operate on triple net leases, placing a lot of the operational decision-making with the tenant and not the landlord”. She adds that the industrial typology itself is quite varied, incorporating sub-categories like distribution centres, warehousing, light manufacturing, and workshops. The tool enables landlords and tenants to work together to measure and improve operational performance.

Because this tool focuses on buildings’ operational performance, many of the requirements revolve around defining how the building is to be used by occupants. So, plans, policies and programmes need to be compiled in manuals as part of the submission for a Green-Star rating.

Director at Ecocentric Jutta Berns was the sustainability consultant involved in all of Investec Property Fund (IPF)’s building submissions. She highlights the importance of tenant involvement in the measurement and improvement of operational performance. “The landlord and tenant communication process can get very complicated; it is certainly simpler with owner-occupied buildings,” she says, “and with the industrial sector, the landlord has even less control over processes than they would in a commercial building. Requesting full disclosure from the tenant on energy and water-process loads is extremely difficult.” It does, of course, help where the tenants concerned have their own corporate targets and policies on sustainability that align with the landlord’s goals.

As with the standard EBP tool, buildings’ performance in terms of energy and water use is measured over a 12-month period. Berns explains how staff also completed questionnaires about the indoor environment, which includes aspects such as natural daylight and fresh air, particularly in occupied spaces. Indoor air quality is also tested for factors such as carbon monoxide and other contaminants. The certification is then valid for three years, and a building will then need to be re-certified.

Investec Property Fund

Investec Property Fund Limited aims to have its properties certified to a minimum 5-Star Level. Many of its commercial office buildings have already been rated, or are in the process of being re-rated.

Graham Hutchinson, Head of South African Business at IPF, highlights the importance of sustainability to the company. “In line with our ambition to unlock the potential of space and desire to lead in a more sustainable built environment, Investec Property Fund Limited has partnered with the GBCSA to participate in the Green-Star Existing Building Performance Industrial Custom Industrial PILOT,” he says. We look at five of IPF’s industrial buildings, which have now been rated 4-Star as part of the EBP Custom Industrial PILOT tool.

39 Imvubu Park Place, Riverhorse Valley

IPF-owned 39 Imvubu Park Place, in Riverhorse Valley, KwaZulu-Natal, is an industrial distribution centre. A listed pharmaceutical manufacturer is the single tenant at this property. The building comprises 9 715m² of industrial space for the distribution of medical supplies, as well as a supporting office and administration component.

Sustainable building features include a 19% improvement in energy efficiency when compared to the facility’s historical performance. This was largely due to the installation of a new 550kWp PV array during the course of the assessment period. Water efficiency is also 71% better than the industry benchmark.

Where existing buildings are occupied by tenants, as in the case of IPF’s portfolio, they have to be intrinsically involved in the development of plans and the implementation of guidelines during operations. Berns highlights that this can be one of the most challenging aspects of the assessment and certification of existing buildings. In this case, however, with the tenant being a pharmaceutical company, they already had very developed operational protocols, particularly for things like waste management.

So, it was easier to implement guidelines in an already structured setting. As part of the exercise, tenant engagement ensured their buy-in on defined sustainability requirements and protocols. A green travel plan was set up based on staff surveys, particularly encouraging the use of public transport for all building users. The tenant also co-signed policies for green cleaning, which reduces hazardous chemical use, sustainable procurement and purchasing, and solid waste management.

49 Diesel Road, Johannesburg

A soft-drink manufacturer is the single tenant occupying 49 Diesel Road in Isando, Johannesburg. The facility is a 22 668m² industrial building serving as a distribution centre for soft drinks, including space for distribution operations and an office component. The assessment period for this building showed that it is 63% more energy efficient than the industry benchmark.

As with 39 Imvubu, Ecocentric prepared policies and guidelines for tenant implementation, outlining sustainability targets and setting out the operations around travel, green cleaning, sustainable procurement and purchasing, and solid waste management.

15 Pomona Road, Gauteng

Located at 15 Pomona Road, in Kempton Park’s Pomona, Gauteng, this 9 038m² industrial building houses a global logistics company. It is a logistics and distribution centre with a small supporting office component.

15 Pomona Road is 56% more energy efficient and 62% more water efficient than industry benchmarks.

The assessment period revealed it to be 56% more energy efficient and 62% more water efficient than the normalised industry benchmarks. Ecocentric compiled operational policy and guideline documents for green cleaning, solid waste management and green travel for implementation by building occupants.

15 Pomona Road, in Kempton Park, houses a logistics and distribution centre.

The EBP Custom PILOT illustrates that a useful green building benchmark for industrial buildings is available.
15 Pomona Road is a 9 038m² industrial facility.

16 Pomona Road, Gauteng

Right next door is 16 Pomona Road, an industrial distribution centre occupied by a leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural machinery and technology.

16 Pomona Road is 60% more energy efficient and 80% more water efficient than industry benchmarks.

10 Jansen Road, Jetpark, is home to the distribution hub and fitment centre of a leading tyre manufacturer.

The company occupies a 7 394m² facility, which includes a small office component. Ecocentric assisted with setting out policies for operational use and a green travel plan. The building proved to be 60% more energy efficient and 80% more water efficient than the normalised industry benchmarks.

IPF has been involved from the onset of the tool customisation as a data supplier.

10 Jansen Road, Gauteng

The 19 294m² facility at 10 Jansen Road in Gauteng’s Jetpark is home to a tyre manufacturer. The complex comprises a distribution space, a fitment centre and administration offices.

The monitoring process revealed that this industrial building is 45% more energy efficient, and 66% more water efficient than the normalised industry benchmark. A green travel plan was developed, and policy and procedure protocols for green cleaning, sustainable procurement and purchasing, and solid waste management were implemented.

Beyond the pilot

Lombard states that the GBCSA is pleased with the pilot projects thus far, as it “illustrates that the Customisation has been successfully applied and a useful green building benchmark for industrial buildings is available”. She adds that IPF is a “key industrial participant and has been involved from the onset of the tool customisation as a data supplier. Without this data, the formation of the energy and water framework for industrial building-types would not have been possible”.

For IPF, Hutchinson adds: “We are proud that through our partnership with GBCSA we are able to obtain the five Industrial Green Star certifications, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate for the sustainability of the environment and the societies we operate in.”

At present, there are 18 projects registered with the GBCSA for the Existing Building Performance Custom Industrial PILOT.