SA’s new green building regulations could add to the cost of building

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New building regulations to “…add considerably to the cost of building a home”
Paul Henry, MD of Rawson Developers, said the national building regulations will add considerably to the cost of building a home, and “any architects or designers submitting plans for approval have to prove that they are certified as competent. This, in turn, implies that they have received specialist training in energy efficient design.”
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The latest national building regulations (SANS 10400 and, more particularly, SANS 204 and XA) which have been promulgated to make South African housing more energy efficient and operationally ‘green’ are commendable and on the right track – but, says Paul Henry, managing director of Rawson Developers, they will add considerably to the cost of building a home.

“Not only do the new rulings call for the use of additional materials and/or more expensive materials, they will also add to the cost of the design. Architects and engineers will probably have to charge more to cover the extra work now required of them.

“What is more,” he says, “the South African Bureau of Standards has announced that further regulations have already been drafted and will be introduced in the not too distant future.”

These, he predicts, will add still more to the initial cost of housing.

From now on developers and house designers will have to ensure that 50 percent of their homes’ water heating is done by non-electrical means, such as solar heating or wind power. Wherever practicable, all living areas must face north, whereas kitchens and bathrooms must face south. The roof and the ground floor must be insulated with highly efficient prescribed materials, and all fenestration (windows and glazed doors or walls) must be kept within certain ratios relative to the floor area. The rulings here may result in architects having to use different frames, reflective or tinted glass or double-glazing, and they are likely to result in the incorporation of shading devices such as overhangs, canopies or shutters.

From now on, says Henry, any architects or designers submitting plans for approval have to prove that they are certified as competent. This, in turn, implies that they have received specialist training in energy efficient design.

“By far the largest new outlays will be in fenestration protection. This could add significantly to the bill, but at least the rules have been adapted to suit different geographic areas of the country. The rulings for the more temperate regions are not as stringent as those for the hot districts,” says Henry.

At the opening earlier this year of South Africa’s first five star Green Star building, Aurecon’s brand new Western Cape head office in Century City, Bruce Kerswill, executive chairman of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) said that the construction costs for commercial green buildings were not nearly as high as often expected. On the other hand, operating costs are generally far below those of non-green buildings, so building costs can be recouped much faster.

When approached for commentary on Henry’s views, Brian Wilkinson, the recently appointed chief executive of the GBCSA, said he was reluctant to comment as the council has only certified one multi-unit residential building and does not yet have any data on the cost of building green vs running costs.

He said: “We are in the process of investigating this argument but until we have substantiating evidence, we’re reluctant to get embroiled in this ongoing debate.


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