This year, Solid Green Consulting celebrates the achievement of more than 50 certifications, demonstrating the company’s ongoing leadership in the African Green Building sector. To date, the company has consulted on 57 successful green building certifications, covering 750,000sqm of built area.
Over the last eight years, Solid Green has committed to creating a better living environment for all, not only through its extensive consultancy and certification services, but also through the research and development of online tools to better service its clients’ needs – Solid XA and Solid Insight. And, with all 12 team members qualified as Green Star SA Accredited Professionals (GSSAAP), and key team members also holding LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), EDGE AP (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) and WELL AP accreditations, Solid Green is actively harnessing its expertise to serve this sector through advocacy and mentorship.
Two important ‘first’ Green Star certifications in the last year include the Mon Trésor Business Gateway, the first Green Star certified project in Mauritius which achieved a 4-Star Green Star SA Office Design v1.1 certification in July 2018; and 78 Corlett Drive, which received a 6-Star Green Star SA Office Design Rating as well as a Net Zero Carbon Pilot Rating from the GBCSA at the end of November 2017.
Moving beyond buildings into the public realm, Solid Green is currently consulting on four of the first thirteen projects that are piloting the GBCSA’s new Green Star Sustainable Precincts tool, including Sandton Gate and Oxford Parks. The company was also the EDGE Auditor on Belhar Gardens Rental Estate in the Western Cape, the first affordable housing project in South Africa to achieve an EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) certification from the GBCSA.
A strong believer in leading by example, Solid Green’s own office in Rosebank, Johannesburg, is the first project in Africa to make it onto the Biophilic Map. The map, which is hosted by the International Living Future Institute’s Biophilic Design Initiative, recognizes exemplary projects in articulating and applying Biophilic Design principles to the built environment. The company’s office was awarded a prestigious LEED Platinum certification for Commercial interiors and the first 6-Star Green Star SA Interiors v1 certification in 2016; and won the Highest Rated Building category at the Green Star SA Leadership Awards in July of the same year.
The company is also actively involved in policy development throughout Africa and, on 29 August 2017, Nigeria’s first Building Energy Efficiency Code (BEEC) was officially launched in Abuja by the Federal Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Solid Green was commissioned as technical consultant on the project, and Director, Chilufya Lombe, spoke at the launch event. “With the energy scarcity that is common in Africa, energy efficiency becomes very important in allowing and maintaining development,” Lombe says. “In Nigeria, we have found that it is easier to build a building to consume 30 to 40% less energy than to pay to add renewable technology onto an inefficient building. In other words, we are talking about buildings that perform well from a first principles point of view.”
Advocacy is a crucial part of the company’s mandate. In 2016, Marloes Reinink, founding Director, signed up to become South Africa’s first ambassador for the Living Building Challenge. Possibly the most rigorous green building certification programme and sustainable design framework in the world, the Living Building Challenge is developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) with the mandate of leading transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. Solid Green is currently working with US-based architectural firm, A-I-R Inc, on two residential projects in Cape Town that are registered to be Full Living Buildings under the Challenge. Reinink says, “This work keeps me motivated and realistic that there is still a long way to go in terms of greening the built environment.”
In addition to advocacy, training and mentorship form part of the Solid Green mandate. Three staff members sit on the GBCSA faculty, providing training to enhance the understanding of Green Star tools and certifications in the building industry. A contingent of five also sits on the GBCSA assessment panel, carrying out submission assessments; while two more representatives serve on the GBCSA Assessment Committee, whose responsibility it is to ensure that the certification assessments and assessment processes remain of the highest quality.
In addition, Lombe is currently mentoring start-up organisation, Khora Group – headed up by Katlego Mothapo – which was accepted into the Innovation Hub’s Climate and Innovation Centre (CIC). This incubation programme provides advisory and support services, networking opportunities and access to finance for start-up companies in the green or sustainable sector.
And, in its quest to change mindsets and stay at the forefront of thought leadership, Solid Green is proud to be a partner in the newly-launched GreenED, an online resource offering best-in-class online and contextual learning on sustainable design in the built environment and green rating certifications.
The company has been acknowledged on numerous occasions for its dedication and hard work. Since 2011, directors, staff members and projects have received fourteen Green Star SA Leadership Awards in total, with the Established Green Star awarded to Marloes Reinink in 2013, and Chilufya Lombe in 2014. Last year, the company was Runner Up for the ‘10 Year Award for the Consulting Company with the Highest Number of Certifications’ in South Africa.
Says Reinink, “We are proud of our achievements and meaningful contributions to the green building sector. Our vision for the future is to maintain our current services in the South African industry and grow our activities and impact into Africa, where real change is needed in terms of how buildings are delivered in order to keep up with the current pace of development on the continent.”