Multidisciplinary engineering consultancy WSP Africa has achieved an EDGE Preliminary Certification for the new Balwin Properties residential apartments project – The Polo Fields, setting a benchmark for sustainable residential developments of the future in the country, and the continent.
The Polo Fields is a massive development of 1 512 apartment units that will be located in the Waterfall precinct, in Midrand. The Polo Fields is Balwin’s first development in South Africa to achieve a preliminary EDGE Certification for its lifestyle orientated design and innovative approach to using more sustainable embedded materials and interventions to reduce operational water and energy consumption.
EDGE is an international green building certificate standard that was founded by international financial institution the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – demonstrating that global financial institutions see green buildings as an investment. The aim of EDGE is to deepen the understanding that everyone wins financially by building green – because of the opportunity to reduce operational and utility costs, increase marketability to attract investors, as well as increase the property’s value.
In South Africa, EDGE adoption is still in its infancy as it was only formalised in the country in 2014. The certification process is being facilitated by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), as the local partner. The GBCSA is entrenched in affecting the movement towards green buildings across Africa.
WSP’s sustainability team was engaged by Balwin in the early design phase of the project, during 2016. This enabled the sustainability experts to consult with the developer company, architect and broader project team, on the critical sustainability interventions required to achieve the EDGE Certification.
“This is a preliminary certification for the design of The Polo Fields project, though we are eager to follow the process through for the operational full certification on this project too,” says WSP Africa building services sustainability consultant Sesonasiphosihle Myosana.
EDGE focuses explicitly on the embodied energy of materials, energy and water consumption rates of buildings; where a minimum of 20% reduction on traditional or SANS base case building modelling across these three criteria has to be obtained to achieve certification.
“As practising experts in this space, it was interesting and a learning curve for us to experience how the EDGE Certification gets to grassroots of sustainability. “The user-friendly tool is facilitated by an intelligent online application process, although an expert is still needed to make the link between design and meaningful sustainability interventions,” adds Myosana.
Balwin has an entrenched history as a market leader in major residential developments in South Africa. The Polo Fields will be a masterpiece in the company’s journey, to date, adapting to international and local trends around smarter interconnected city-style or mixed-use design and sustainability, as consumers become increasingly more self-aware of their spaces and socially conscious of offsetting their energy consumption and carbon emissions as much as possible.
The development will have the capacity to potentially house up to 6 000 people in the 1 512 units. These units will consist of two typologies; three bedroom apartments on the ground and first floors and two bedroom apartments on the second floor.
EDGE-based assessment was undertaken on the apartment units only – other amenities in the complex include a club house, a pool, open green areas and common area lighting on day-night sensors. A few of the keenly anticipated sustainable interventions for each of the apartment units are the installation of energy efficient light fittings and smart metering systems that allow for unit occupants to see their energy consumption and a direct indication of energy cost in real time. This will promote more mindful energy usage by tenants, who, in turn, enjoy the benefit of reduced electricity bills.
There is also a window-to-wall ratio of 21% combined with high performance glass. This facilitates improved insulation to retain indoor temperatures and ensure that heat gain or loss is reduced. It also results in lower energy consumption to moderate indoor temperatures.
In another intervention, water efficient fixtures, such as low-flow kitchen and bathroom faucets, showerheads and dual flush toilets, will collectively reduce the water consumption by 34.4%, compared with an average South African residence determined by the EDGE software.
Lastly, materials with low embodied energy, such as hollow core bricks and insulation manufactured from recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles, will reduce the negative environmental impacts often associated with the construction of new build projects.
“We are keen to see how EDGE will be adopted more broadly by players in the residential sector – and the GBCSA’s plans to expand the EDGE offering to include a tool for certifying existing residential buildings. We see the further adoption of EDGE as providing significant avenues to affect more change and positively contribute to greening the residential sectors in South Africa, and Africa,” says Myosana.
As one of the world’s leading professional services firms, WSP provides technical expertise and strategic advice to clients in the property and buildings, transportation and infrastructure, environment, industry, resources (including mining and oil and gas), and power and energy sectors. The company also offers highly specialised services in project delivery and strategic consulting. Its experts include engineers, advisers, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, surveyors and environmental specialists, as well as other design, programme and construction management professionals.
With about 36 000 people in 500 offices across 40 countries, the company is well positioned to deliver successful and sustainable projects, wherever required.