At the 14th Annual Africa Property Investment Summit Awards held at the Marriott in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, Equites was presented with the IFC EDGE Champions award for 2023, in recognition of the Group's commitment to sustainable development through Green Building Certification.
Equites Property Fund has certified over 290 000 square meters of its portfolio, with a further 320 000 square meters under assessment.
The EDGE certification standard assesses a building sustainability profile based on achieving efficiencies on 3 key metrics that include, energy, water, and embodied emissions. Equites has committed to achieving the EDGE Advanced certification for all its new developments, which requires achieving a minimum energy efficiency of 40%.
The Group has established itself as a leader in developing and acquiring world-class logistics assets both in South Africa and the United Kingdom. It remains the only specialist logistics REIT listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange since its listing in 2014. Our South African footprint is in excess of 1.2 million square metres and we decided to utilise a certification process that is globally recognised, provides clear guidelines to achieve efficiencies on key metrics like energy, water and embodied emissions, and importantly, generates savings for our tenants.
How valuable is Green Building Certification for Equites?
There are two aspects to the green building process that we have found are valuable to Equites Property Fund. At an operational level, we are able to utilise a certification tool for both new developments and existing buildings to identify efficiencies that will generate environmental and economic value for both the fund and our tenants. This assists in continuous improvement ensuring that our developments are up-to-date with the latest efficiencies, thereby ensuring that we continue to develop best-in-class products to global standards.
As a differentiation tool, our tenants comprise of multinationals with their own sustainability objectives and specific requirements to decarbonise their business and reduce their environmental impact. We find that the EDGE rating is recognisable to an international market and prospective tenants are able to easily distinguish our buildings, providing them with the assurance of the quality of the product.
Why is green building certification important here in South Africa?
As a developing country that is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and its categorisation as a high water-stressed region, in addition to the current challenges of energy insecurity, the green building certification process pivots the design process to incorporate efficient solutions for these particular metrics from inception in the case of new projects. It requires the developer to find sustainable solutions that are both functional and cost-effective and provide the occupier of the building with an economic benefit.
What are your plans for EDGE certification in the future? Does your business have a decarbonisation/zero carbon plan for future projects?
As a global business with the first sustainability-linked bond on the African continent, we feel that the EDGE green building certification is relevant and recognisable to both local and international investors. 80% of the projects certified have achieved an EDGE Advanced rating and we have committed to certifying our existing buildings to the EDGE certification standard. Additionally, this provides our clients with the assurance of the quality of our build.
Equites is committed to decarbonising the portfolio and has validated its targets according to the Science Based Targets Initiative “SBTI”. Within the next 18-36 months, the Group intends to commission an additional 8 MW of energy from a combination of 14 grid-tied and hybrid solar with battery storage systems, at a forecast capex of R136 million. Total installed solar capacity will increase to 26.2 MW once this has been completed, which equates to the energy required to power 17 160 SA homes annually. The resultant emissions avoided from this will be 52 426tCO2e, which is equivalent to 24 289 tonnes of coal burned.
The Group will continue to expand its wheeling offering by engaging in partnerships with key industry stakeholders. This provides a significant opportunity for Equites to meet its SBTI emissions targets towards a 1.5C goal while contributing to energy security in SA.