A total of 140 buildings were certified by the GBCSA in 2021. This record number of certifications, issued during a challenging Covid year, speaks to a growing green building movement in South Africa. This – and so much more – was proclaimed at the recent GBCSA flagship Green Building Convention.

Words GBCSA and Robbie Stammers


Celebrating certifications, the Convention and award winners

Proudly involved with the award-winning Ridge building

“Certified green buildings held their own, as far as vacancy and return rates go, over the past year. Property owners, tenants and investors are now insisting on better, certified green buildings, as the environmental and financial benefits of these become indisputable. The GBCSA has certified 740 buildings since 2009,” said GBCSA CEO, Lisa Reynolds, at the Convention.

Reynolds commended the built environment community for driving the movement, saying, “We do the certifications, but you make the commitment.” It was also announced that Giles Pendleton, chief development officer at Attacq Limited, will remain as chairperson of the GBCSA for another year.

The Green Building Convention hosted several international and local keynote speakers, including Nigerian architect, Kunlé Adeyemi, whose “African Water Cities” have garnered him worldwide acclaim; Dutch bio-designer, Teresa van Dongen, who shared the ground-breaking work she is doing in combining nature and science into her design; and Mashudu Ramano, entrepreneur in the transition to a regenerative and sustainable future, bringing home our undeniable connection to, and reliance on, the environment.

“Our programme was curated around this year’s theme – One – One Planet. One Chance. It comprehensively looks at the critical role of the green building community and the need for us to come together as one powerful movement to effect positive change that counts.

“The theme reinforces the need for decisive and immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate change and to save our one planet for future generations. This is not something we can do alone – we need everyone to commit to a future where people and the planet thrive,” Reynolds added.

GBCSA thanked its sponsors for making the Convention possible.

We need everyone to commit to a future where people and the planet thrive.

“To our lead sponsors – Nedbank, Rand Water and Vodacom Business and all our other sponsors and supporters, thank you for partnering with us and investing in the green building movement. Partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs and we are in great company as we drive sustainable changes in the built environment,” said Reynolds.


GBCSA announced the winners of its annual Leadership Awards in the closing plenary of the Convention. The awards are based on submission data gathered during the Green Star certification process, and individuals are nominated by the industry. “Congratulations to all the projects and individuals who received awards this year. It is an honour to recognise the movers and shakers in our industry,” expressed Reynolds.



6-Star Green Star Office Design v1.1
AP: Mike Munnik, Agama Energy
Company: Arup
Property owner: V&A Waterfront
Architect: StudioMAS
6 Marina Road, Portswood District,
V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

The overarching focus of the building was to design the ventilation system as a mixed mode by maximising natural ventilation, thus reducing energy costs and providing a high level of internal comfort for the occupants. This was achieved through shaping the building directly to its site and climate in two key ways.

First, the central atrium between the two narrow floor plates maximises daylight penetration and allows for efficient cross ventilation. Referred to as the “central street”, the atrium helps to pull air through the building, in through the windows and out through the roof lights. Second, the “corrected” façade orientates glazing due north or south to reduce solar gains, admit daylight, and allow unobstructed views.

The number of innovations that were realised on the project demonstrate the commitment to sustainable principles and out-of-box thinking throughout the design and construction process.

Natural ventilation of the building is only used when the thermal comfort and outdoor air flow rates are within the required range. This results in the building operating as naturally ventilated for 80% of the annual operating hours.


The Building Management System (BMS) plays an important performance role by monitoring the thermal comfort and fresh air rates, to signal to building occupants to open/close windows accordingly. When natural ventilation and the thermally active building system (TABS) do not achieve the thermal comfort criteria or the outdoor air flow rate, the windows are signalled to be closed, and mechanical ventilation is used to meet thermal comfort and air flow rates.
First, second and third floors are mechanically ventilated by an underfloor displacement ventilation system. Rainwater and grey water harvesting are used for toilet/urinal flushing and irrigation.

Mark Noble, development director at the V&A Waterfront and the project leader says: “We believe that this is one of the most unique green buildings in Africa, if not the world”.

In a South African first, cross-laminated timber and thermally treated timber cladding is used as part of a unitised façade system. This locally sourced, FSC certified timber assembly allows for a high level of daylight and thermal control, maximises comfort and low energy building performance, and embodies 354 tons less carbon than conventional alternatives.

The building is designed well for energy efficiency with the use of photovoltaic panels for peak demand reduction and 12 500 eco-bricks* used as void formers in the toilet blocks.

*Eco-bricks are 2L cold drink bottles stuffed with non-recyclable plastics, such as packaging for snacks.


“One of the outcomes from COP26 is the necessity to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. The C40 South African Building Programme is assisting the Johannesburg, eThekwini, Tshwane and Cape Town metros to place policies and bylaws that ensure all new buildings are net zero by 2030.

“This will require a step change in how buildings are designed, rather than an incremental change. It is likely that natural ventilation will resurface as a key design strategy to reduce the HVAC energy levels and still maintain indoor air quality and comfort levels.

“The Ridge project team, with the encouragement of the client, worked extremely hard to achieve the sustainability goals of the project, resulting is this wonderful award,” says Mike Munnik, sustainability consultant for the project.
Tessa Burnette, engineering team leader, Arup adds, “I am incredibly proud that The Ridge has been recognised with such a prestigious award from the GBCSA. The building represents a fundamental and necessary shift in the commercial office sector from fully air-conditioned to predominantly naturally ventilated, and the significant carbon savings that this brings. It is critical that this shift is made swiftly in order for us to meet the global targets necessary to reduce carbon emissions. This building is a critical step on that journey for the sector in South Africa and Africa.
“Alongside that, the number of innovations that were realised on the project demonstrate the commitment to sustainable principles and out-of-box thinking throughout the design and construction process.

“Importantly, without the teamwork and cross-disciplinary collaboration from the very beginning, this would not have been possible. Well-done to Mike as well as the rest of the combined design, construction and client team,” says Burnette.


6-Star Green Star Office Design v1.1
AP: Zendré Compion, Solid Green
Property owner: Balwin Properties
105 Corlett Drive, Birnam, Johannesburg

The Balwin Head Office is a major refurbishment of the iconic Creative Council building along the M1 highway. Located in an urbanised context adjacent to the Melrose Arch development, the building is made up of four basement levels and five office floors. The project achieved a 6-Star Gold Star Office Rating for Design and will target an As Built as well as Net Zero Carbon ratings.

The redevelopment saw the removal of three cones and the creation of two new floors under the elevated concrete box. An additional roof space will be created to accommodate a gym, meeting areas and a canteen. The lettable area of the building will increase from 2 200m2 to more than 6 000m2.

The behaviour of building occupants and users is critical to reduce building energy consumption.



5-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance v1
AP: Sally Misplon, Misplon Green Building Consulting
Property owner: Redefine Properties
Fairway Office Park, 52 Grosvenor Road, Bryanston, Johannesburg


Gleneagles has indoor environmental quality testing to recognise the monitoring and control of indoor pollutants to help sustain the comfort and wellbeing of building occupants. The project has used management plans for the development and implementation; preventative maintenance; landscaping; hardscaping and pest management of the building.

A solid waste and materials management policy is being developed to encourage sustainable waste management and recycling at the building. A green cleaning policy, in line with the Green Star SA requirements, along with a green procurement plan has also been compiled and implemented to encourage and guide the property and facilities management teams to select the most sustainable products available on the market.

The publication of green operational guidelines for tenants and glare control devices are mandatory in occupied spaces to reduce the discomfort from glare and direct sunlight.

Additionally, green lease criteria have been added to all new leases and renewals.

The building’s energy and water consumptions are benchmarked against other buildings with the same building type to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the burden on potable water supply and wastewater systems, associated with the use of energy in the building operations.

All of the refrigerant mass that serves the building [100%] is made up of zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) refrigerants.


“It is always special to be recognised [for an award]. This category of award has always been important to me as it represents the quality of work as well as what is done for a client. Redefine’s ongoing support and their trust that our work is of the best standard, coupled with the green building industry standards, helped improve my work over time.
“I have now managed to win this award a few times over the past years, which makes me feel like I am on the right path. I am extremely fortunate to work with a company like Redefine, and without their support, we never would have achieved these accolades together,” says Sally Misplon, Green Star accredited professional, on winning this award, as well as taking home the runner-up position for Wickham House.


5-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance v1
AP: Sally Misplon, Misplon Green Building Consulting
Property owner: Redefine Properties
Wickham House (Questek), Fairway Office Park,
52 Grosvenor Road, Bryanston, Johannesburg


“Being recognised as an EDGE leader by the GBCSA reinforces my mission of making an impact by promoting sustainable building practices and providing solutions. Further, it is important to me to make a difference in shaping built community environments that have a positive impact on the planet.”


“It’s a great honour to receive this award, however the success of our projects is entirely due to the attitude and determination of the whole project team to make a difference in the built environment.”


Winner of Established Green Star and Highest Rated Building, Mike Munnik.



Manthose is a sustainability and green building specialist at WSP in Africa. She combines her love and passion for employee wellness, health and productivity with green buildings to ensure that there is a balanced and positive co-existence between people and the spaces they occupy.

She holds an honours degree in Industrial/Organisational (I/O) Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her academic background has been instrumental in fuelling her passion for pursuing a career that focuses on the interplay between people and their environments.


Rising Green Star, Hlologelo Manthose from WSP Group Africa.


GBCSA partnered with the Youth in Property Association (YIPA) to introduce the inaugural YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker Award, which recognises the exceptional contribution of young people to sustainability in the built environment sector.


Hoza is a young leader who is passionate about the intersection of infrastructure development, technology, people, and in particular,using these entities to improve the livelihoods of Africans.

“It is important to me to make a difference in shaping built community environments that have a positive impact on the planet.”

Hoza is the founder of Hot Nozzle, a company that manufactures novel water heating technologies. He is an Allan Gray fellow, AIF top ten young innovator and has qualifications from UCT and Cambridge University. Hoza has received an award from the Queen of England.

YIPA Sustainable Young Changemaker – Thamsanqa Hoza.