New Interiors rating tool soon to be launched by the Green Building Council

Posted On Friday, 04 October 2013 13:16 Published by Commercial Property News
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The Green Building Council South Africa is currently developing an interiors tool – a green building rating tool that addresses tenant interior fit outs across different market segments.  

Brian Wilkinson GBCSA

This has been facilitated through sponsorship from Standard Bank and Saint-Gobain.

Unpacked at the forthcoming Green Building Convention
To be officially launched in PILOT format at the forthcoming Green Building Council Convention on 17th October, the tool has been developed in response to demonstrated market need. The current suite of rating tools cover only base buildings and not interior fit outs. At the much-anticipated launch, a panel of industry experts involved in the development of the tool, will unpack the credits and invite projects to register and test the pilot tool.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, says: "We are incredibly excited about this rating tool as it puts the decision to commit to environmental sustainability firmly in the tenants' hands. Tenants can now decide, independently of the building owner, whether they wish to comply with green building standards within their own office spaces. "

Standard Bank Group Real Estate Services manages 535 000m2 of commercial office space spread over 135 properties and 480 000m2 of retail branch space spread over 771 branches on behalf of Standard Bank South Africa. "This puts us in a strong position to be a significant contributor to Group Sustainability initiatives. By the end of this year alone, we would have completed well over 100 new branch builds, branch refurbishment and facelift projects. The interior ratings tool will form the cornerstone of these refurbishment projects and re-stacking of our commercial office spaces in the future," comments Nkosinathi Manzana, head of Professional & Technical Services - Group Real Estate Services, Standard Bank.

A power tool in the Green Star SA "toolbox"
The Green Star SA – Interiors rating tool assesses the design, construction and refurbishments of interior spaces in both existing buildings as well as new buildings. Projects seeking certification must be clearly distinct from other spaces within the same building. "The types of buildings to be addressed by the Green Star SA- Interiors rating tool are intended to be broad, and include tenancies such as: offices, retail stores, restaurants, hotels, galleries, public buildings and healthcare facilities," explains Wilkinson.

To date, the GBCSA has had a significant impact in advancing green building - particularly in the formal, commercial property market in South Africa. This new tool however has enormous potential to influence a much broader target group when compared to the other GBCSA rating tools – predominantly due to the high volumes of tenancies and their regular fit outs.

Green offices are good for staff health
Research and case studies have found that green offices boost productivity and performance, enhance worker satisfaction, reduce sick leave, stress leave and absenteeism and are a powerful recruitment and retention tool. They are better offices because there is an 11% gain in productivity from fresher air, 23% gain from good lighting and access to views, and 18% improvement from access to daylight and operable windows. People who work in green offices also have 25% better functioning memory because of their access to views.

Walking their talk
"Saint-Gobain South Africa's commitment to energy efficiency and performance based standards prompted them to lead and drive the writing of standards for energy efficiency in buildings. However the Energy Efficiency Regulations only cover new buildings and with South Africa's huge stock of existing energy inefficient buildings – and buildings that do not take into account the principles of green building - Saint Gobain welcomed the opportunity to sponsor the Interior's rating tool," says Lisa Reynolds, Sustainability Director of Saint Gobain. "It was a natural progression for us to become more involved in the holistic, green approach to buildings where more than energy efficiency is considered. The performance-based, measurable characteristics of the GBCSA's rating tools are in alignment with Saint-Gobain's Global drive."

The GBCSA recently took up residence at its inspired new green office at the Blackriver Park complex in Observatory, Cape Town. The Council relished the opportunity to walk their talk, and to design a space that would resonate with their green building values and principles. They aim to become the first commercial interiors office certified under the Green Star SA Interiors rating early in 2014. The GBCSA's interior fit-out was completed in just 3 months and is captured in The Inside Story – A Green Interiors Case Study.

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