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Embracing The next Horizon for Sustainable Development: Exploring GBCSA’s Green Star New Build V2 Tool – Nature Category, by Mike Aldous, Technical Principal, MPAMOT

Introduction:  In an era where environmental sustainability has become a pressing global concern, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has been developing an updated and enhanced version of its renowned Green Star rating tool.The Green Star New Build V2 rating tool offers a comprehensive framework for evaluating and certifying the sustainability performance of buildings, fostering a greener and more sustainable built environment while remaining relevant and future-fit.

Driving Sustainable Building Practices:

The Green Star New Build V2 rating tool is a significant step forward in promoting sustainable building practices. It provides a holistic approach to assess the environmental impact of buildings, considering a range of criteria such as energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, and innovation. By addressing these critical areas, the tool aims to encourage the development of buildings that minimize their carbon footprint, reduce waste generation, and enhance the health and well-being of occupants.

Enhanced Performance Metrics

One of the key highlights of GBCSA’s Green Star New Build V2 rating tool is its emphasis on enhanced performance metrics. The updated tool provides more stringent benchmarks for various sustainability categories, encouraging developers and designers to go beyond minimum requirements and strive for excellence. This shift towards higher performance standards not only ensures that certified buildings achieve tangible environmental benefits but also acts as a catalyst for innovation and creative problem-solving within the industry.

Bringing nature to the fore:

The dedicated team for the Nature category has had the opportunity to relook at Nature as a whole and develop a more integrated approach to how the credits enable project teams to push the boundaries. The five credits in the NATURE category present a palette of opportunity to implement tangible real-world impacts on our development environment.

The category is targeted to be accessible to all project typologies, the objective is to be as universally accessible as possible allowing project teams to plot their own compliance path based on opportunities and site constraints.

The consolidation of credits and a refocused alignment with legislation aim to remove additional friction from the system and streamline the process while protecting water courses and discouraging development in sensitive natural areas, while aligning with the local biodiversity context.

A highlight of the new tool is the focus on the Regeneration credit, encouraging teams to move away from exotic landscaping, and to re-introducing locally indigenous landscapes and biodiversity, focusing on regeneration, instead of restoration. In this regard the GBCSA teamed up with SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) to support project teams and to leverage national biodiversity and vegetation data. With a growing focus on carbon, naturally biodiverse landscapes have been shown to absorb more carbon than exotic landscapes, giving projects a carbon sequestration advantage, and the diversity of planting further ties into improved psychological benefits as well.

As the urban landscape across our cities becomes more and more fragmented the focus on connectivity becomes ever more critical. Aimed at connecting species across the site, and to adjacent sites the Connectivity credit looks to innovation in making functional trans-developmental pathways a reality, providing an ecological “steppingstone” to existing habitats.

Driving Market Transformation:

The Green Star New Build V2 rating tool serves as a catalyst for market transformation within the construction and real estate sectors. By providing a clear and standardized framework for evaluating sustainability performance, it enables developers and investors to make informed decisions, rewarding those who invest in sustainable practices. The Nature category has already had an impact on the local nursery market, highlighting the need and opportunities around expanding the landscaping options available to developers to include a far wider range of locally indigenous species and unlocking new pathways to move beyond zero and towards regeneration and a net positive impact.

The rating tool also promotes knowledge sharing and collaboration, by partnering with SANBI and other stakeholders the potential benefits are multiplied beyond the confines of the Green Star tool. As industry professionals strive to understand and implement best practices to achieve higher ratings and better outcomes, the new tool aims to be the platform that delivers exactly this.


GBCSA’s Green Star New Build V2 rating tool represents a significant advancement in driving sustainable development and promoting environmentally responsible building practices. By setting higher performance standards and aligning with global best practice and encouraging market transformation, this tool, and this category plays a pivotal role in creating a greener and more sustainable built environment in South Africa. Embracing this rating tool is a step towards a more sustainable future for our communities and the planet as a whole.

Lisa Reynolds

Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director

Lisa Reynolds is the CEO of the Green Building Council South Africa.

Lisa was the driver for the drafting of Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations for Buildings and has been involved in Energy Efficiency since 2003. She serves on many committees in the SABS and within the energy management professionals’ space. She was President of the SAEEC from 2016 to 2019 and was the previous President of the ESCo (Energy Services Companies) Association. Lisa was instrumental in the formation of SAFEE (Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency) within SAEEC.

She has assisted the South African Government with its Green Building Framework policies, Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives and Energy Efficiency Strategies

Her passion for the “Green space” started with the birth of the Green Building Council in 2007. Lisa served on the Board and the Technical Committee of the GBCSA, as well as on several Technical Working Groups for Rating Tools and Criteria. Lisa. became CEO in June 2020.

Lisa has a BSc, an MBA and a CEM. Lisa’s awards include the 2007 ETA Award for Women, 2008 Individual Energy (SAEE), 2012 SABS Standards Writer Award; the 2014 Women in Energy (SAWIEN); and the 2016 Ian Lane Hall of Fame award.

Lisa is committed to growing the Green Economy within a Green Recovery.

Organisational categories

As an organisational member, you will fall into one of the below categories, and be charged according to specific size indicators. Please reach out to us for any further clarity on which category is best for your organisation

Property Developers

Annual Turnover

Investors, Owners, Property Managers

Total Asset Value

Major Corporate Tenants & Retail

Annual Gross Rentals

Building Contractors

Annual Turnover

Building Product Manufacturers & Distributors

Annual Turnover

Professional Services: Architects, Designers, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, PM’s, Consultants, Legal

Number of employees

Research, Higher Education, NGO’S & Regulators

NGO or Research/Higher Education/ Regulators

Related Interests: Utilities, Financial, Insurance, etc.

Annual Turnover


Local/ municipal/ provincial/ state 
Contact GBCSA to confirm your category