The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBSA) recently launched their new Sustainable Precinct Category. Abland, one of South Africa’s leading property developers for over 30 years, is privileged to have two precincts enrolled in the GBSA’s pilot study with: Sandton Gate, on the doorstep of Sandton on William Nicol Drive, Johannesburg and; Loftus Park, adjacent to Loftus Versfeld sport stadium in Pretoria.
Abland is a precinct developer and the efforts invested in this endeavour are now starting to come to fruition. Grant Silverman, Abland’s Marketing Director explains: “We believe that no building or development exists in isolation. Each has a relationship with the surrounding urban environment. At Abland we conceptualise each development with the urban fabric in mind. The idea is to contribute positively to the immediate neighbourhood rather than standing in isolation.”
In line with this initiative, the Green/Sustainable Precinct Rating may eventually become the ultimate achievement for property developers. “A Green Precinct is beneficial to the developer, tenants, the environment and communities surrounding and inhabiting it. Property values increase when located in a sought after, aesthetically pleasing, safe, secure and clean precinct,” adds Silverman.
At present, Abland has 13 precinct developments in the pipeline with 9 currently underway. These range from city living/working focused mixed-use precincts and industrial estates, with a small retail and conference component, to an entire town complete with lifestyle residential offerings from affordable to luxury, regional malls, additional strip malls, small convenience retail outlets, restaurants and cafés, motor dealerships and big box opportunities, filling stations, schools, tertiary institutions and an array of private and public open spaces.
To achieve its Green Stars, a precinct is rated against five categories, each requiring a minimum score to ensure a holistic approach, namely: Governance, Liveability, Economic Prosperity, Environment and Innovation.
Laetitia Cook, Abland’s Green Star Accredited Professional explains the process: “It starts with sustainable design principles being applied at a neighbourhood scale to large mixed-use projects. It’s all about creating healthy spaces that enable multipurpose use. The aim is to enrich one’s experience of an area by including a whole list of aspects, such as diversity, connectivity – easy accessibility to various modes of transport services, but also smart advanced technology solutions – security, art, well-managed public open spaces with opportunities for outdoor activities and entertainment, pedestrianisation, permeability, etc. This has to be done whilst reducing the ecological footprint of the development to make it environmentally sustainable.”
However, various factors need to be considered during the design, construction and operational phases of the project. Involvement of the other land owners in the precinct is a necessity, whether through a legislated City Improvement District (CID) or owners association (NPC or voluntary forum). “Landlords are usually keen to participate in a stakeholders forum as they all have the same purpose. When united, the future value of their properties become a shared responsibility. Sustainable financing is created from income generating initiatives in the precinct alongside small monthly contributions by each stakeholder. This allows for beautification and continuous maintenance of the precinct,” states Cook.
“Generally, local municipalities are eager to become involved with developers who reach out to assist them in improving their functionality. It becomes a shared responsibility that everyone benefits from,” explains Silverman.
As no two precincts are the same, they all require a unique blend of offerings, perfectly developed with the end-users needs and wants at the heart of the development. Below are a few initiatives generally considered to improve precincts.
In no particular order these include:
- Integrate the project seamlessly into the urban neighbourhood
- Plan to optimise space, functionality and movement
- Link to public transport and make provision for various modes thereof
- Focus explicitly on the safety and security of all precinct users
- Create pedestrian friendly precincts with integrated wayfinding
- Be environmentally conscious. From the selection of material to the construction process and disposal of refuse
- Be generous with landscaping but stick to hardy indigenous plants and water-wise irrigation, preferably using grey water
- Supplement with renewable energy sources that reduce operating costs and provide redundancy
- Cater for hybrids, electric vehicles, bikes and bicycles
- Include water harvesting – be it rainwater, grey water, or groundwater and include water and power saving technology
- Facilitate lifestyle by including a variety of amenities such as healthy outdoor opportunities, cafés, art, convenience retail and spaces for entertainment
- Include educational opportunities for schools, tertiary institutions and the public in general
- Futureproof the precinct by allowing for diverse spatial functionality, shared spaces, open to integration, and proper connectivity
- Ensure a professionally maintained and managed precinct
At Abland, we believe in that sustainable building is the way forward. We take the principles of green building seriously and make ‘being green’ an integral part of our business and building processes. As members of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), we are committed to creating a better built environment. Through our Strategic Green Building Philosophy, we apply and implement key energy efficiency principles in all aspects of our projects and we have successfully implemented a number of these, together with other green building measures, in our projects. While the benefits to the environment almost go without saying, there are also numerous benefits to our clients – cost savings through energy efficiency, healthier buildings and environments to work in, and assets which are future-proofed. Clients can benefit from Abland’s knowledge and expertise and have a greener building which contributes to a better environment. Abland stays abreast of the latest technologies and research in energy saving, sustainability and carbon footprint reduction. As a market leader in this field, we ensure that our clients make informed decisions about the green building measures they wish to implement. Each new project is approached with an eye on energy saving, sustainability and the commercial benefits that can be achieved by means of payback period analysis. A number of our buildings have already achieved Green Star SA ratings from the GBCSA. Recently rated four star buildings include Alice Lane Phases One, Two and Three (70 000m2 in total); Nedbank Lakeview (22 000m2); Monte Circle Building One (5 500m²) and Rosebank Towers (25 000m²).
Current developments being submitted for Green Star SA ratings include Loftus Park (20 000m2) and Monte Circle Building Two (4 400m²). To find out more about Abland, visit http://www.abland.co.za/