Architectural trends: Buildings going green

Hi there!

Did you know that people in developing nations have a keener sense of responsibility towards the earth than those in developed nations?* A look at some of South Africa’s newest corporate headquarters shows that this is the case, for example Upper Grayston E Block in Joburg. This is South Africa’s first green star-rated building; it earned five stars from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

This is relevant, as office buildings are one of the bigger contributors to pollution, and guzzle energy and water. Now though, as the ‘green revolution’ gathers momentum, so architecture is evolving in interesting ways to address this. Eco-savvy property owners expect eco-friendly design and construction that will lessen the building’s impact on the environment and it begins with the architect.

Apart from the environmentally sound reasons, going green also has a financial benefit: According to Bruce Kerswill, executive chairman of GBCSA, “Green buildings command a higher rental price and capital value, they have lower running costs, they let better and they retain tenants better.”

Here are some of the green trends we are seeing in South Africa’s architectural world:

• Incorporating materials in the design that will leave the smallest carbon footprint possible, eg glass, sustainable timber
• Efficient use of energy, eg big glass windows that let in natural light and air; solar panels for water heating
• Storm water filtration – the roof and the landscaping have a role to play
• Carpets and paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds


* “Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability” by Janine Erasmus (,