Head of sustainability (energy) at the company, Werner van Antwerpen, said on Friday the vast majority of the company’s tenants were prepared to pay for green functions in their offices, because they made their staff more productive, and saved on energy costs.
A recent study by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, Suny Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University found productivity was enhanced 61% on average when an office was changed from an ordinary office to one with a basic level of greening features.
People who worked in wellventilated offices with belowaverage levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide had significantly higher cognitive functioning scores in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy, than those who worked in offices with typical levels.
Van Antwerpen said tenants had found that buildings with higher green-star ratings could sell for larger prices or command higher rentals. Improved productivity was a further commercial drawcard for tenants.
This had prompted Growthpoint to benchmark electricity, water usage and air quality at its assets.
It was using an industry standard tool, the GreenX5.0, to do this. As such, buildings that were below five in each category were underperforming and those above five were performing.
“Fairly quickly companies have recognised commercial value in greening their buildings. We try to achieve four- and fivestar ratings for each building we own because we believe this will benefit us and our tenants in the long run. We also try to get our buildings to be at least five on the GreenX5.0 scale,” Van Antwerpen said.
The one aspect that had proven more difficult to benchmark and to encourage tenants to manage was water usage.
“Water is relatively much cheaper than electricity in SA. We are finding better tools to measure it but we also need to educate tenants on how to deal with water shortages,” he said.
Recently, at the South African Property Owners Association annual convention, Prof Anthony Turton, a water strategy specialist, stressed that companies needed to invest in strategies that would save water.