Green Star Rating

The following is extracted from the GBSA Website, which I think is up to date. There are as you can see only one building which is certified, and a handful which has been registered for certification.

I think the costs of 5% of the building cost is the norm that QS firms add to the cost for green building practice at this stage and that has not been sufficiently proven in RSA.  it also seems to be the figure that is acceptable to prospective building owners and tenants. This, however is for the “glamorous” items, good design costs nothing, see later comments.

It is also a fact that this provision, as well as the landscaping provision will be the first items to be cut if the project proves to be under performing in terms of returns on capital investment.

The rating has to be reviewed and approved, and here is a cost as well.  This cost varies between R36000.00 and R156000.00 per building, slightly cheaper if the architect is a member of GBSA – see GBSA website.

If RealFmg is a member of the GBSA, I think one can put a link to their website in the news letter, otherwise they can link through my website (haha). You can also contact the GBSA, explain what we are doing, and get permission to insert a link, if you wish to advertise for them.


The Green Building Council of South Africa initiative addresses what are becoming the major issues of our time – excess energy consumption and the related CO2 emissions from burning carbon fuels, pollution of air, water and land. The depletion of natural resources and the disposal of waste. It is estimated that buildings consume 40-50% of the world’s energy through their construction and ongoing operation.


Green buildings can reduce their consumption of energy to less than half of what a conventional building does, with similar reductions in potable water usage, runoff to sewer and solid waste.  By promoting green building, the Green Building Council of South Africa can have a really significant impact on resource consumption and on combating global warming.

The GBC also addresses many of the pressing issues facing local authorities today, such as electricity shortages, water shortages, the lack of solid waste disposal sites, transportation issues and many others


Green Star SA Certification is a formal process which involves a project using a Green Star SA rating tool to guide the design or construction process, during which a documentation-based submission will need to be collated as proof of this achievement.


Green Star SA certification recognize projects that demonstrate leadership in environmental building design and construction.

Obtaining 4, 5 or 6 Star Green Star SA Certification will enable a project to:

  • Gain market recognition as a leader in the green building industry;
  • Achieve a competitive advantage by promoting the building as environmentally and workplace friendly;
  • Validate achievement through third party assessment;
  • Have the right to promote a Green Star SA rating and use a Green Star SA certified logo

If one reads the benefits of going green on the GBSA website, they do not spell out the real benefits in terms of the work and living environment inside a green building, or the financial benefits available.



Green Star SA Certification is a formal process which involves a project using a Green Star SA rating tool to guide the design and construction process, during which a documentation-based submission is collated and submitted to the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) for review and approval. Only projects that have undergone the formal certification process through the GBCSA may advertise the project as Green Star SA Certified.

Project name: Nedbank Phase II

City: Johannesburg
Rating achieved: 4 Star Green Star SA – Office Design v1


Registered projects are those that have declared their intent to pursue formal certification and have started the process. These projects have not yet undergone review by the GBCSA, and no statements may be made as to levels of achievement.

Project name: Pegasus Building

City: Tshwane
Tool version: Office v1

Project name: Lincoln on the Lake

City: Durban
Tool version: Office v1

Project name: Bartholomew Building

City: Tshwane
Tool version: Office v1

Project name: Falcon Building

City: Tshwane
Tool version: Office v1


Many local subsidiaries of multinational companies are now charged with the building or leasing of Green buildings.

Our experience of this is that only a few issues are addressed to make the building appear green, and the statement commonly heard in planning meetings is “let’s put in some solar geysers to keep the Italian guys happy” and “to show them that we at least tried’

Most of the real issues, like sunscreens to reduce AC loads, water saving toilets, waterless urinals, etc. are never implemented, and there is a host of planning and product specifying items not addressed. Almost as if you design a stock standard indifferent building and then use the retrofit method to make the building appear greener and make the owner or tenant feel green. (GBSA has a recognized tool for the retrofit route)

The present question is “how much Green can the RSA economy afford?

ESCOM’s problems has to an extent forcefully changed perceptions over the past few years as far as the use of electricity is concerned, to save money for the tenants, but can the building owner and the tenant ever compensate for the carbon emissions of C02 belching coal fired power stations?


I believe that it is responsible to look at lighting, insulation, water usage etc. to at least try and reduce the power consumption, and address the lack of water in RSA. This is necessary despite the global warming issues.

I grew up in the Karoo, and each house had a rainwater tank, where the water was stored for the winter, and used very sparingly for washing hair and delicate fabrics, the local water supplies being loaded with salts etc.

Today we can still catch rain water off our buildings, to augment water used for gardening, as well as reusing grey water to flush toilets and water gardens. In Johannesburg this is more viable than in the Karoo.

Responsible architects must address some of the issues that form integral parts of buildings and that would not necessarily cost much money to achieve a greener base building. In the eighties we never built buildings without proper sunscreens, and proper orientation to alleviate solar heat loads on buildings. We insulated concrete roofs, who does it now? Remember at that stage all buildings were not air conditioned or heated. In those days we were obliged to consider the quality of human life inside buildings, not only from temperature control angles, but also from preventing glare, and total internal environmental quality.

We seem to have reverted to a situation where we say, “put in some good glass, and beef up the AC system a bit”, and if one looks around at lower cost new buildings in Johannesburg the above are amply illustrated. Gone are the responsible planning, conservation or green aspects. Bad orientation, no use of natural means of temperature control etc.

Architects have to speak to the building materials suppliers and manufacturers, and get them on the green bandwagon if they are not there already, to make sure that their products are green, with low carbon footprints, and specify only those that conform. They will soon change the non compliant products to stay in business. I predict that most materials will be green in a decade from now if we take our responsibilities seriously.

The glamorous green items, such as solar electricity panels, LED lighting, solar water heating, fancy electrical control systems for lights, gray water usage, etc, and many others, means nothing if the building is not sensibly designed to age old proven principles of orientation, insulation etc. Get the base building right, then be glamorous. The GBSA will reward those design principles if they are incorporated.

All buildings do not have to have Green certification, or can afford such.

But: We architects must responsibly go back to our basic training, and use good basic design principles in every one of our buildings. Build functional buildings every time, use the right materials, and the planet will benefit from it, as will the tenant and owner, and an automatic benefit will be that the buildings would look good and be nice to work and live in.

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