Industry Leadership in the African Green Building Sector

: Solid Green Consulting

The big green picture

Sub-Saharan Africa currently faces significant challenges in terms of water, food and energy security; and, what has come to the fore more recently, the provision of basic sanitation. In line with the pressure created by local environmental factors such as the recent hard-hitting drought; the pressing need for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance; and international policies and legislation around sustainability, South African standards and regulations around green building are rapidly gaining traction.

Two recent public sector initiatives that highlight Government’s commitment to prioritising resource management and sustainability are the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and the Tshwane Water Resource Management Network (WRMN).

In addition, South Africa has presented five proposed outcomes to be pursued under the Gaborone Declaration on Sustainability in Africa (GDSA) – Sustainable Development Planning; Natural Capital Accounting; Environmental-Economic Monitoring; and the Demonstration of best practices and scaling up of environmental programmes which support and contribute towards other economic sectors.

Not only is Government defining policies and implementing regulations, but it is now also leading by example with the Department of Environmental Affairs building which achieved a 6-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design rating and, more recently, the new Stats SA building.

With the green building sector gaining momentum, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) awarded its 50th Green Star SA rating certification in April 2014 and, to date, the number of Green Star SA ratings has nearly tripled to 140 certified projects.

The GBCSA has also undertaken the following commitments, among others:

  • A target of 2,500 commercial green building certifications by 2020, which will represent approximately 10 million square metres of gross building area;
  • A target of 10,000 residential green building certifications by 2020;
  • The introduction of a net zero/positive certification scheme by 2020 for buildings, which will cover energy/carbon and possibly water and waste.

Industry leadership with Solid Green Consulting

One of the dynamic South African companies leading the way in the African green building movement is Solid Green Consulting. With twenty-four Green Star SA certifications under its belt to date, Solid Green offers a sophisticated range of consulting services to assist architects, planners, property owners and developers in achieving their green building goals; and the company is also active in developing new technologies to make the process of green design and construction more efficient and effective.

Alice Lane Phase2_Paragon Architects

Started by Marloes Reinink just over five years ago, in response to a growing market and increasing demand for green building expertise, the company’s pursuit of excellence and inspiration has resulted in awards and accolades both locally and abroad. The most recent of these are:

•    International Green Interiors Awards 2015: Google Head Office in Bryanston, Johannesburg (Overall Winner and Lendlease Office (large) Winner);
•    Green Star SA Leadership Awards for 2014/2015 (GBCSA Conference 2015):
Winner: Best Quality Submission for Monte Circle
Runner Up: Highest Rated Building for Upper Grayston Block F (first 6-Star Green Star SA Office v1 As-Built rated building in Gauteng)

In addition, two Solid Green partners have won the GBCSA’s Established Green Star award – Marloes Reinink in 2012/2013; and Chilufya Lombe for the 2013/2014 cycle. To date, Solid Green is the only company in South Africa to have received this particular honour for two people.

Commenting on the Green Star SA awards 2015, Chilufya Lombe said, “The categories in which Solid Green has achieved are testimony to the excellent service that we continue to bring our clients. In a year where we achieved a record ten certifications, the quality of work that we provide has not faltered. Five years and twenty-four certifications later, we are proud to be recognised by our peers as beings leaders in sustainability.”

Milestone certifications

MultiChoice City

Throughout a project’s certification process, the ultimate goal is to drive and guide project-design teams to create comfortable, healthy buildings that are highly efficient in their energy, water and resource utilisation. This approach has resulted in some significant successes, which include:

Upper Grayston Block F, Sandton: the first building to achieve a 6-Star Green Star SA Office v1 As-built Rating in Gauteng;

Department of Environmental Affairs, Tshwane:  6-Star Green Star SA Design rating. Solid Green was responsible for ensuring that the building reached its energy target through using energy modelling as part of the design process. This project also won the 2015 SAPOA Innovative Excellence Awards under the categories ‘Corporate Office Developments’ and ‘Overall Green Award’;

BMW Head Office, Midrand: 4-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design; 5-Star Green Star SA Office v1 As-Built ratings. The project, by Boogertman & Partners, also won a 2015 Regional Award for Architecture from the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIFA).

National English Literacy Museum, Grahamstown: 5-Star Green Star SA PEB (Pubic & Education Buildings) Pilot Design

MultiChoice City: 5-Star Green Star SA Office v1 Design and 5-Star Green Star SA Office v1 As-built certifications

And, in refurbishing its own offices, the company has imposed the rigorous standards for which it has become known, aiming for a 6-Star Green Star SA Interiors rating as well as a LEED Commercial Interior Platinum rating.

MultiChoice City

Giving back

In addition to its many industry-related achievements, Solid Green’s directors and staff dedicate a considerable amount of time and energy towards ‘giving back’ – both in terms of furthering technological advances in the industry, and through pro bono involvement in social and environmental initiatives.

On 13 January 2016, the first Streetlight School opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thanks to the vision of Solid Green’s directors, the project has been registered for a 4-Star Green Star SA Interiors rating with the GBCSA.

Streetlight Schools: Jeppe Park Primary

Streetlight Schools is an innovative low-cost primary school model that focuses on enquiry, collaboration, exploration, relevance and the use of technology to teach and learn. Started in October 2013 as an after-school programme, the school has evolved over two years into a fully-fledged school for 45 children – with plans to eventually accommodate 200 learners.

Solid Green Consulting became active in the early stages of the project by contributing their expertise to have the school Green Star SA rated; leveraging their network of suppliers for donations of materials; and by donating financially. Warren Gray, partner at Solid Green, says that the intention is for the company to continue its involvement in the initiative as the model is replicated and rolled out.

“Jeppe Park Primary is the first school in South Africa to apply for a Green Star SA rating,” he says. “Because of this vision, the innovative educational model, and the fact that the school will be a living laboratory for green education and construction in the same space, people have been very willing to donate materials and professional expertise.”

Another exciting initiative, Decongest Sandton, seeks to raise awareness of green mobility innovations in urban South Africa. Here, Solid Green joined forces with Cycology and the GBCSA to kickstart an engaging and fun project involving electric bicycle tours through Sandton, awareness within bicycle networks, and cycle commuter research. 

Lifecycle planning and implementation

Solid Green Consulting offers consulting services throughout a building lifecycle, starting from initiation, design and construction right through to operation and maintenance of the project.

Solid Green is proud to be a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA); and contributes actively towards providing training to enhance the understanding of Green Star in the building industry; carrying out submission assessments; and ensuring that certification assessments and assessment processes remain of the highest quality. A contingent of five from Solid Green sits on the GBCSA assessment panel, while another two representatives serve on the GBCSA Assessment Committee.

The company has also birthed many innovative initiatives in its mission to lead the green building industry into the future. These include desktop software and online applications such as Solid XA, a web application used to capture data for SANS 10400 XA rational assessments in accordance with South Africa’s energy regulations; SunHours, a free SketchUp plugin developed by Solid Green to calculate solar exposure; and Solid Insight, a cutting-edge web application that furthers awareness, education and accessibility through a live metering interface for display, as well as bespoke websites for green buildings.

Driving future innovation

About the company’s vision for the future, Reinink says, “Solid Green has reached its 5-year milestone and it aims to grow organically over the coming years. We are intending to do more work in the greater Africa, but also grow our client base in South Africa. We continue to be leaders in the industry by being in the forefront of innovation in the Green Building field and beyond.”

Alice Lane

Media contact: Apex Communications