Q: KEVIN JAMES: The Green Building Council of South Africa is a subset of responsible investment. I’ve got a lot of admiration for GBCSA, because within a short period of time, they have done a significant job in advancing responsible investment in the real estate sector. It’s not as broad as the equity market, but what would you say you have done right? There’s a huge awareness; I don’t think any of my clients will not build new developments without engaging on a four, five, or even six-star building. I know it makes huge business sense. Why do companies see the business value in investing in a green building, but they don’t see it in necessarily integrating it in their broader activities as a business?
A: MANFRED BRAUNE: Firstly, leadership. It’s key to our success. The green building journey in South Africa has been trying to identify those leaders in the industry. It’s the kind of leadership where those individuals have the space in their organisations to make a change, and I think we had some very innovative thinkers on the Green Building Council.
Green Star is a voluntary rating system for buildings, and yet very quickly it’s been taken up as a key instrument for assets to be benchmarked. It’s not regulated yet, but most of the REITs are now saying that every new building has to be certified, it has to be benchmarked. It’s because of that factor that the industry just can’t escape those market forces, because tenants are asking for it.
If you go to Sandton, it’s very hard to find a new building now that is not a green building, that hasn’t been independently verified as a green building. Property is a very tangible asset, and most pension funds would have property as part of that investment so it’s something that shareholders like and value. We can touch it, feel it, experience it, and we can also see the sustainability aspects to it, so that’s also very tangible.