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The Green Star South Africa rating tool is an objective measurement for green buildings with a focus on energy. Building owners have to submit the relevant building data to the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). Afterwards, an independent assessor evaluates the building and its green measures and rates it. The building owner then receives a certification with a 4-Star, 5-Star or 6-Star rating. 4 Star means “Best practice”, 5 Star stands for “South African Excellence” and 6 Star means “World Leadership”.
Several rating tools were implemented to reflect different market sectors including a rating tool for offices, retail centres, multi-unit residential buildings as well as public & education buildings.
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has introduced the voluntary rating tool “Green Star South Africa” in 2008. The rating tool evaluates and rates the environmental design and performance of buildings. It allows an objective assessment of “green buildings” and demonstrates the environmental leadership in the building sector. According to the GBCSA a green building is “a building which is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible – it incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate its negative impact on the environment and its occupants” (Goosen 2009).Therefore the tool enables stakeholders to minimise the environmental impacts of their developments and to capitalise on, and receive recognition for their design initiatives.The rating scheme can be used to rate the environmental merits of a building at the design phase (certification for “design”) as well as the post construction phase (certification for “As Built”). Four different rating tools were implemented depending on different market sectors: “multi unit residential v1”, “public and education building v1”, “office v1” and “retail centre v1”.All these sector-specific systems rate a building according to nine different categories namely
For the rating tool “Office v1” the following criteria have to be achieved (A list with detailed criteria for the energy sector is available here:):
|Indoor Environment Quality||28||15%|
- Conditional Requirements
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Energy Sub-metering
- Lighting Power Density
- Lighting Zoning
- Peak Energy Demand Reduction
|Land use and Ecology||9||7%|
Source: GBCSA 2014
The next figure illustrates the process of the rating.
Buildings can achieve different rating levels: 4 star recognises best practice, 5 star recognises South African excellence, 6 star recognises world leadership.
Other rating systems are “ Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)” from the United States of America, “Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM)” from the UK, the DGNB Certification system from Germany and “Green Star rating” from Australia. The rating tool from South Africa is based upon the Green Star rating system of Australia.
The residential sector accounts for 18% (2009) of final energy demand in the country. Energy efficiency improvement initiatives should therefore include all economically viable measures. Commercial & Public building sector contributes to 8% of national energy usage (2009). Some main energy consumers are HVAC systems, lighting and office equipment.
The government wants to achieve an improvement in energy efficiency per capita of 12% by 2015 based on achieving energy efficiency on these sectors: Commercial and Public buildings (15%) and Residential Buildings (10%).
According to national strategies Green Star is an effort to increase energy efficiency in the building sector after the national energy efficiency strategy (NEES) as these two were first published & reviewed in 2005 and 2004 respectively.
The green star rating scheme was announced & launched in 2008 and the second review of these two former strategies were later reviewed for the second time in 2012 which then encompassed the green star rating tool.
The aim is to influence the investors, owners, developers and consultants to improve the design of buildings. It enables these stakeholders to minimise the environmental impacts of their developments and capitalise on, and receive recognition for their design initiatives.
According to the Green Building Council South Africa, the aims are:
It is a national policy.
The tool aims to ensure that buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way, allowing South Africans to live and work in healthy, efficient and productive environments.
The Green Star SA rating tools have a number of Conditional Requirements (such as minimal energy efficiency and protecting land of high agricultural value, a excel sheet with the requirement is available here:). Regardless of how many other credits the building achieves, it will not be eligible for a Green Star SA Certified rating unless all of the rating tools Conditional Requirements are met. The credits within the energy category target an overall reduction in energy consumption. Reductions in energy consumption can be achieved through more efficient use of energy in buildings. Reductions in emissions and capacity may also be achieved through generation of energy from alternative sources.
The policy gives an indication of the energy efficiency level of the building in relation to SANAS (South African National Accreditation System) SANS 204 and SANS 10400 XA. The National Energy Efficiency Strategy (NEES) incorporates the green star rating tool as another initiative to achieve energy efficiency targets by 2015 & 2030 according to the national development plan (NDP). Since this also aims at achieving energy efficiency, it automatically interacts with mandatory national building standards (SANS 10400 XA) for residential buildings and building labels.
After the building has complied with the national building standard, building owners may want their building to be additionally rated 6 star, 5 star, or 4 star by the GBCSA green star rating tool.
The Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM) aims to promote energy-efficient technologies, processes and behaviours amongst all electricity consumers. Several projects were implemented under this scheme, like the standard product program, the standard offer program and the performance contracting programme. All these programmes offer a predetermined rate for electrical demand savings. This programme can provide an incentive to increase the energy efficiency of a building and to reach 6, 5 or 4 star labelled buildings.
The policy includes innovative elements.
The promotion of innovations is even part of the policy. It is explicitly part of the measures: A building is rated according to different categories. One category is “innovation”. This category encourages designers and manufacturers to develop innovative technologies, designs and processes. Innovative points can be awarded at the discretion of the Green Building Council of South Africa.
The following pre-conditions are necessary to implement the Green Star Rating System:
Agencies or other actors responsible for implementation
The Green Building Council South Africa is responsible for the implementation of the policy.
The certification procedure and the label have to be paid by the client applying for the green star rating.
According to the Green Building Council South Africa (2014) and UrbanEarth (2014) the following process needs to be carried out:
Step 1: Register
If a company or building owner is interested in the Green Star rating system he/she has to register the project, submit an executed Certification Agreement and pay a registration fee. The fee is calculated on the Gross Floor Area. Fee range from R58,140 to R222,300.
Step 2: Prepare Submission
All relevant documents must be prepared to satisfy the requirements. An online certification tool supports the data collection.
Step 3: Round 1 Submission
The Green Building Council (GBCSA) does a pre-assessment check before the submission is passed to an independent assessment panel. The building owner may be asked to revise the documents.
Step 4: Round 1 Assessment
The GBCSA commissions an independent Certification Assessment Panel. The Panel reviews the documents and makes recommendations. The project is then accepted or not.
Step 5: Round 2 Submission
If a project failed round 1 assessment the building owner has the opportunity to resubmit the documentation. The documents have to be submitted again.
Step 6: Round 2 Assessment
The Round 2 Assessment follows the same process as Round 1 assessment
Step 7: Certified Rating Awarded:
The project receives the certificate, an award letter, the Green Star logo and marketing tips
You can find the technical manual, the eligibility criteria and a rating tool for the single rating types at
The following figure illustrates the whole process:
The rating tool is based upon the Green Star rating system of Australia. The GBCSA added some new credits to meet South African context (Goosen 2009).
Actors responsible for design
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) is responsible for the design of the policy.
Actors responsible for implementation
The GBCSA develops the rating tools based on similar rating tools that have been developed by other Green Building Councils as well as based on local market demand for specific new tools. Tool development to date has been a collaborative process between the GBCSA staff, GBCSA Technical Working Group and the selected technical consultant. The GBCSA begins by appointing an internal project manager and conducts an assessment of the impacts the proposed tool might have on the environment and market. A paid technical consultant is sourced and appointed and is responsible for conducting in-depth research, tool development and developing the technical documents required. A voluntary technical working group (TWG) is appointed and acts as a review and stakeholder engagement panel by providing comments, feedback and reviews on key aspects of the proposed tool. The tool development process involves the development of credits, credit criteria, documentation requirements per credit and all other supporting documentation including the technical manual, calculator guides and modelling guides. Once this is done, a pilot project programme is run, from which feedback is received and incorporated. The final tool is approved by the GBCSA’s and GBCA’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC).
All these tools assess a building and its green building features and initiatives at design or construction phase. A systematic monitoring system was not implemented.
An evaluation of the policy is not available.
Design for sustainability aspects
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has introduced the rating tool “Green Star to evaluate and rate the environmental design and performance of buildings. This means that not only energy aspects are covered but also the following criteria: transport, water, materials, emissions, land use, ecology.
As mentioned before the rating scheme addresses several environmental criteria like water, emissions and land use. Furthermore a pilot programme was introduced in December 2013 to
test an assessment scheme that goes beyond the traditional green criteria for buildings. The focus of this pilot project is a focus on socio-economic criteria including employment creation; economic opportunity; skills development and training; community benefit; empowerment; safety & health; and mixed income housing.
Impact data are not available but since the introduction of the green star rating scheme a total of 55 buildings have been certified. Three buildings have received the 6 star rating, 14 buildings have received the 5 star rating and the rest has received a four star rating. (Status in October 2014)
There are two categories of the rating scheme available: the “In Built certification” and the “Design certification”. Design certification is awarded at the end of the design phase. When the construction is complete, the project can be submitted as “As Built” certification.
The company or building owner who is interested in a certification with the Green Star energy rating scheme has to pay a fee during the registration. The fee is calculated on the Gross Floor Area (GFA) of the building. Discounts are provided if the registrant is a member of the Green Building Council South Africa. The following table demonstrates the different fees:
|Project area GFA||Member Costs (incl. VAT)||Non-Member (incl. VAT)|
|<2 500 m2||R58,140||R78,660|
|2 500 - 4 999 m2||R77,520||R103,740|
|5 000 - 9 999 m2||R91,200||R120,840|
|10 000 - 19 999 m2||R114,000||R144,780|
|20 000 - 39 999 m2||R123,120||R153,900|
|40 000 - 69 999 m2||R150,480||R188,100|
|> 70 000 m2||R177,840||R222,300|
Source: Green Building Council South Africa 2010
The Green Star SA Rating System and the rating tools have been developed with the assistance and participation of representatives from many organisations. The Green Building Council of South Africa acknowledges the Green Building Council of Australia in providing their Green Star intellectual property.