This year, Solid Green has attained the double milestone of its tenth birthday and one hundred green building certifications! This monumental achievement includes 84 Green Star, 7 Net Zero, 6 EDGE and 3 LEED-certified projects.
Solid Green’s 100th certification milestone was marked by the successful 4-Star Green Star SA multiple building rating for Phase 1 of The Ingress office development in Waterfall City, Gauteng. The development’s first phase comprises two of five buildings in a 20,000sqm premium-grade commercial development by Attacq.
Marloes Reinink, Solid Green’s founding director, says, “In light of the many challenges faced by the building industry recently, we are especially proud of this achievement and of our clients for continuing to pursue their green building visions. Over the last decade, we have been honoured to work with trail blazers who have demonstrated both courage and commitment in prioritising sustainability, climate resilience and user wellbeing in the South African property sector.
“Legislation and expectations have put pressure on professionals to up their game when delivering green buildings – which in turn has led to teams who are better educated and experienced in this sector. We have been an active part of this process – engaging with clients and teams from the inception of projects; pushing for innovation at every opportunity; and actively advocating for change within the property sector.”
Noteworthy Certifications in 2020
The Ingress Waterfall certification follows closely on one of the first Net Positive Carbon Level 2: Occupant Emissions (modelled) ratings in South Africa, attained by Hotel Nieu, an off-the-grid boutique hotel in Pretoria that provides upmarket hospitality services to people who care deeply about the appropriate stewarding of resources. The development, founded by Anthony Fitzhenry and Paul Boshoff, is home to older heritage buildings, newer existing buildings and new buildings.
At a historic moment in time, just weeks before South Africa went into lockdown, Westend Building C received its 4-Star Green Star SA Design certification. Building C is the third of six buildings to be developed by Abland Property Developers in Westend Office Park, Centurion. This certification, Abland’s seventeenth in collaboration with Solid Green, further demonstrates the developer’s ongoing commitment to sustainable development. Westend Building D, the development’s fourth, is targeting its Green Star Design certification in early 2021.
Pushing the boundaries at every opportunity, Solid Green and Balwin Properties recently achieved a 6-Star Green Star Public & Education Building (PEB) rating for The Reid Lifestyle Centre. As part of a Balwin upmarket lifestyle estate situated close to the Marlboro Gautrain station, the building is also targeting a Net Zero Carbon Level 2 rating – which is possible thanks to the array of energy efficiency measures that have been implemented, together with a 15kWp photovoltaic solar system that is expected to meet 100% of the building energy’s needs.
And, following an extensive process to regard sustainability as a joint core value, Growthpoint and Serra® Services recently achieved the first Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating for an industrial building in Gauteng – with a 5-Star certification for a 7400sqm light manufacturing building in Meadowbrook, Germiston.
Driving change in Africa
“Our work on the rest of the continent is growing,” says Chilufya Lombe, director at Solid Green. “There is a large demand for green buildings and precincts in African countries, and we are fortunate to be part of this movement. We have worked on some great projects around legislation and regulations in Nigeria and Ghana. We are also actively involved in education and training – for clients, policy makers and building sector professionals. We have certified buildings in Mauritius, Botswana, Kenya, and Namibia; and are currently working on Green Star and LEED projects in Ghana, Mauritius, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Zambia.”
One of these recent certifications was for the new SABIS® International School – Runda in Nairobi, which achieved a 4-Star Green Star Africa-Kenya PEB (Public & Education Building) v1 Design Rating in April 2020. This was a Green Star regional first, and the school was presented as a case study at the World Green Building Week (21-25 September 2020). As the first Green Star certified school in Kenya, the aim was to positively impact the project’s design and construction costs, asset value, operating costs, workplace productivity and user health.
Fostering an environment for Growth
Among its industry-acknowledged achievements, Solid Green can count nineteen GBCSA Annual Awards over the last ten years. The latest of these was for Hotel Nieu as Winner of the Non-standard Awards: Net Zero category in the GBCSA Annual Awards 2020. Other awards over the years have been achieved under the Established Green Star, Rising Green Star, Highest Rated Building, Best Quality Submission and Net Zero Innovative Project categories; and runner up for company with the Highest Number of Certifications in 2017.
“We put a lot of time and energy into fostering a proactive, inspiring and healthy business culture,” says Reinink, who was named Business Woman of the Year: Entrepreneur at the South African Women in Property Awards 2018. “We take the practice of mentoring young people very seriously, and we are constantly rewarded by their personal and professional growth. We have also committed to providing a healthy work environment for our team, together with lifestyle guidance and ongoing mentorship. We have been amply rewarded with a highly motivated team that consistently delivers exceptional quality work to meet the expectations of our clients.”
From early 2021, the team will be continuing its sector-leading work from its new premises in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. “We are incredibly proud that we achieved 6-star Green Star Interior and LEED Commercial Interior Platinum certifications for our offices in Rosebank,” comments Lombe. “We plan on going one step further with our new home in Parkhurst and will be actively pursuing the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Core certification.”
The CORE Green Building Certification is a simple framework that “puts the connection to nature, equity and the need for a building to be loved on even footing with the typical water, energy and materials concerns.” (https://living-future.org/core/ ). Designed by Activate Architecture, the new offices make use of an existing structure and incorporate additional space under a new roof opening onto a landscaped courtyard garden. The intention is to reuse as much furniture as possible from the old office with some clever design solutions that will make the new spaces functional, adaptable and ergonomically efficient. Natural lighting, glare control, acoustics, multiple workspace options and the inclusion of biophilic elements have been identified as top priorities.
New decade, new chapter
“Climate risks have become part of the mainstream building conversation over the last decade,” Reinink observes. “In planning for future building strategies, health-related risks will join the Resilience conversation – requiring new design and construction methodologies to align with the inevitable changes to regulations that we will see in the coming months and years.”
Moving forward, Solid Green intends to meet these demands by continuing to push for innovation in the African construction sector. Projects underway include regenerative developments targeting Net Positive and Living Building Challenge certifications, and growing work on a precinct scale. Reinink adds, “In order for cities to grow in a sustainable manner, developments must take the opportunity to move green design beyond the building scale into the public realm to create places that are both good for the environment and good for people.”
Reinink and Lombe are quick to acknowledge that the company’s achievements have been made possible due to the sector leadership of its clients, the dedication of professional teams, and the ongoing hard work of its staff. Building on the momentum of the last decade, Solid Green will continue its drive for change – towards a more conscious, connected and responsible way of living and doing business.