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How to get your green star by complying with environmental legislation

By Bertie Lourens 31st October 2019 Compliance

It’s not just about the way your building is designed - it's also about helping you lower your overall commercial footprint by creating a clean, sustainable environment.

In the world of business today, green is the new black. No longer is it just about what you do, but how you do it and how your business will impact the planet and future generations. Profit share is no longer the singular narrative in building a successful brand, but rather cultivating a legacy that puts people at the centre of sustainable design. 

With fantastical new green projects reshaping our city skylines - projects like Sandton’s Discovery Building and Cape Town V&A Waterfront - South Africa is taking its seat at the Green Star table, and proving that world-class design and responsible ecology go hand - in - hand. 

You’ve probably heard of the Green Star rating. But what does it actually mean? And how do you achieve it? Here’s a bit of bedside reading to answer these very important questions, and help your company make the leap to green.

Green Star: what is it?

Green Star SA is modelled off the acclaimed Australian Green Star rating system but has been customised to meet the South African context. It is a voluntary rating system that gives the commercial property sector a common ‘language’ to rate and certify their levels of sustainability. 

It looks at the design, construction, and operation of communities and buildings, and assesses the factors that together make up healthy, productive environments in which people can thrive and commercial footprints stay light. Factors which go into the Green Star recipe include:

  • Management
  • Indoor Environment Quality
  • Energy, Transport
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Land Use and Ecology 
  • Emissions and Innovation

How does the rating system work?

Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) awards certification of buildings based on the following levels of achievement:

  • 4 Star Green Star SA Certification - “Best Practice”
  • 5 Star Green Star SA Certification - “South African Excellence”
  • 6 Star Green Star SA Certification - “World Leadership”

But is it just about building design?

In short, no. Your business can be rewarded for initiatives that reduce your waste to landfill and optimise your resources more efficiently. Aside from recycling, composting, and other waste management solutions, you can start investing in technologies like LED lighting, grey and rainwater harvesting systems, water-efficient sanitation, and biophilic facades, such as indoor green walls, that promote employee health and wellbeing.

Whether it’s small changes around your current waste disposal that can be implemented immediately, or more ambitious plans for better energy systems down the line, you can start making the needed changes towards becoming a greener business today.

And tell me - the benefits?

The benefits of Green Star ratings are plenty. Recycling has proven to pay off, with companies receiving a direct payout for every kilogramme of waste repurposed for recycling. Tax incentives abound, the greener the business goes. More optimised use of energy systems means more time and money spent on what counts - building your brand to last the long haul. And naturally, many of today’s customers tend to only align with companies that have a strong environmental reputation.

So how does accreditation work?

The GBCSA has published a helpful list of Green Star rating tools to assist companies in structuring their design, construction, and operations accordingly. But this list is only a guideline - companies claiming Green Star SA rating have to be certified by the GBCSA. This is done through a series of on-site visits and assessments, which validate the project’s submission and end in, amongst many other great benefits, a pretty plaque upon the reception wall identifying you as a Green Star company.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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