1. What is a rating tool?
A green building rating tool sets standards and benchmarks for green building, and enables an objective assessment to be made as to how "green" a building is. The rating system sets out a "menu" of all the green measures that can be incorporated into a building to make it green. Points are awarded to a design or building according to which measures have been incorporated, and, after appropriate weighting, a total score is arrived at, which determines the rating.
2. Why did the GBCSA develop its own rating system?
Because the term “green” is subjective, the GBCSA – South Africa’s official green building authority - decided to provide the commercial property industry with an objective assessment of green buildings. After a process of industry and expert consultation, the GBCSA Board decided to base our South African rating tool on the Australian Green Star system and to customise this tool for South African use. Green Star SA is the country’s only green building rating tool system and functions to recognise and reward environmental leadership in the property industry.
3. How does a building achieve a Green Star SA certification?
To achieve certification, building owners submit documentation to the Green Building Council SA who employ independent assessors to assess the submission and score the building 'Design' or ‘As Build’ building against pre-established environmentally sustainable initiatives within the Green Star SA rating tool categories. These categories include management, energy, indoor environmental quality, water, transport, emissions, materials, land use and ecology and innovation. Based on the total score the project can achieve a 4-Star, 5-Star or 6-Star Green Star SA ratings certification.
4. Does a Building have to be rated green by the GBCSA in order for it to be considered green?
No. There are many well-built, sustainable and “green” buildings in our market that have not pursued Green Star SA certification; this may be due to the Green Star SA suite of tools not supporting the building typology or that the building owner merely chose to not pursue a certification. That said, a building or project that is certified through the Green Star SA process has undergone an independent assessment by the GBCSA and its assessors and is recognised as such by the South African market. Achieving a Green Star SA certification on a project avoids ‘self professed’ claims that aren’t independently tested.
5. What features does a building need to have in order for it to be considered green?
A building that has received Green Star SA certification will have been required to undergo the independent third-party assessment managed by the GBCSA. The Green Star SA certification requires that the project team implements various environmentally sustainable design initiatives into their project. These initiatives are then ‘scored’ against pre-set performance criteria within the Green Star SA rating tools under various categories. These categories include management, energy, indoor environmental quality, water, transport, emissions, materials, land use & ecology and innovation. Third party assessment is totaled to give the team a final score to achieve a 4, 5 or 6 star rating.
6. What are the benefits of applying for green accreditation?
While being good for the environment, developers are also using green principles to reduce operating costs. Long-term energy and water savings, which translate into cost savings, are steadily pushing business- and home-owners to seek out green buildings, rather than leaving it up to built environment professionals.
7. The developers are applying for a green star rating concurrently with the construction of the building. Is this the best way to do it, and why?
In order to achieve a green building, it is essential that the design team members work together from concept design stages to embody green principles in the design. This integrated design process is necessary to understand the synergies between the different disciplines before it is too late to make fundamental changes in design. For this reason it is preferable to register for certification as early as possible, bringing all design team members to the table. Not only does this approach lead to improved environmental outcomes, but can save significant costs. As we all know, late changes in design are expensive.
8. What is project certification & how much does it cost?
Registering a building project with the Green Building Council SA declares the intent to pursue certification under a specific rating tool and is the first step in the certification process. Projects should register as soon as possible during the project, though there is no deadline during the design or construction process. Registering a project simply declares the intent to pursue certification and should not be confused with actual project certification which is awarded by the GBCSA once a project has demonstrated its achievement of a certain rating level. Costs are based on the area (m2) of the development and whether the applicant is a member or non-member, and ranges from R 65 000 to R 195 000.
9. What is the benefit of being rated?
There are numerous benefits that arise from both building (and retro-fitting) a “green” building and achieving a Green Star SA certification. Please see below for some of the benefits Green Star SA certified projects have the potential to enjoy:
• Lower energy consumption (Please see the ENE-0 Conditional Requirement for guidance on how design initiatives are rewarded and the routes project teams may take to achieve benchmarked consumption savings.)
• Reduced water consumption (the Green Star SA Potable Water Calulator provides further guidance on this, as with ENE-0)
• Lower operating costs. (We await market data and feedback to note the effect this will have on CAP rates.)
• Vastly improved indoor environmental quality – which has been intrinsically linked to long-term productivity increases and staff retention, as well as general increases in wellbeing.
• Improved building management structures
• Asset future-proofing; industry leaders are acknowledging that “non-green” buildings will suffer from a loss of competitive advantage in coming months and years. This will transpire through to both directly and non-directly held assets.
• IPD Australia has just released data indicating that Green Star certified buildings are producing higher returns when compared to similar, conventional buildings
• Marketability. Marketing leverage has been a highly acclaimed benefit for Green Star SA certified buildings. Note Nedbank Phase II and more recently Aurecon Century City Campus.
• This list goes on
10. What is a Technical Clarification?
"Technical Clarifications" are the GBCSA's answers to technical queries. These complement Green Star Technical Manuals, and the Assessment Panel will use the Technical Clarifications as precedent. They are an extension of the Technical Manual, and do not amend but clarify the Credit Criteria of Compliance Requirements.
11. What is a Credit Interpretation Request?
A Credit Interpretation Request (CIR) is submitted to the GBCSA if a project team wishes to advocate for an alternative yet equivalent method of meeting the Aim of Credit. Each Technical Manual outlines a number of options for meeting the Aim of Credit, but if the project team has developed an alternative design solution or an alternative form of documentation, it may wish to submit a CIR. It is vital to understand their relevance as they may impact the assessment of your project. You can also use the updating process to improve and extend Green Star SA Tools. Any registered project team can submit queries or suggest new ways to qualify for credit points.
12. Is compliance with Green Star SA a legal requirement?
Green Star SA is a completely voluntary system and will continue as such into the foreseeable future. The Green Building Council SA prefers to influence the market by illustrating the virtues of “best practice” rather than making Green Star SA a mandatory certification process. Should sectors of the market decide to make Green Star SA certification mandatory within their own spheres however; the GBCSA will wholly support them.
13. Can you achieve double points? (eg: Due to exposed surfaces and less concrete (MAT-10) and because exposed surfaces provide more ambient temperatures additional points in category IEQ-9)
Green Star SA takes this into careful consideration and as such, projects are not eligible to be awarded more than once for one initiative. Do take note of the fact that various Green Star credits are intrinsically linked and a certain amount of inter-relatedness does exist. This relationship can bring about both positive and negative point feedbacks. The occurrence of this however, is largely project dependent.