CoCoon Eco Lofts and 40-on-Oak are examples of how sustainability is starting to come into its own in multi-unit residential developments.

Eco Lofts

In 2005, Dennis Spaeth conceived Eco Lofts, a sustainable multi-unit residential project that predated the establishment of the Green Building Council of South Africa and the launch of its Green Star rating tools. Spaeth was ahead of his time and like many pioneers struggled to get the necessary financial backing.

Various developers were indifferent towards Spaeth’s uncompromising sustainability principles and negotiations with an empathetic buyer ultimately failed. The tide turned in August 2010 when Spaeth was introduced to open-minded quantity surveyor Gary Oudmayer who immediately saw potential in the development and the eco loft development finally took flight. The GBCSA launched the Multi-Unit Residential (MUR) PILOT rating tool in December of the same year.

Spaeth attempts as far as possible to focus on fundamental design principles and keep technology, which can add up to a 30% premium on the build, to a minimum. Individual comfort is achieved through a high efficiency air conditioning system that is offered as an option, but the building relies primarily on natural ventilation for thermal control.

High efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce the overall water consumption by 25% which also means a 25% reduction in effluent destined for municipal sewerage.



40-on-Oak draws on its location, a developer’s vision and the timely launch of MUR PILOT tool to be the first 4-Star Green Star SA certified MUR project.

The client, Amdec Property Fund, wanted to go green and its head of sustainability, Josef Quraishi, convinced the professional design team in December 2010 to participate in the GBCSA MUR PILOT tool certification programme.

40-on-Oak is integrated into the Melrose Arch precinct which was originally conceived upon new urbanism principles that opposed urban sprawl. Marloes Reinink, a specialist in the certification of green buildings in South Africa, was appointed to manage the Green Star SA process for the development.


Quraishi explains that the additional costs to achieve the 4-Star Green Star SA rating for 40-on-Oak was less than 1%, which is lower than expected and could be attributed to existing green principles within the greater Melrose Arch precinct. Reinink says that the minimal additional cost in obtaining a Green Star rating challenges the perception that going green is a costly exercise, but it also speaks to how the environment can influence a project’s green credentials.


Green Star SA – Multi Unit Residential v1

The Green Star SA – Multi Unit Residential v1 rating tool assesses the environmental attributes of new multi unit residential developments, as well as major refurbishments of existing multi unit residential developments or conversions across South Africa. Multi unit residential developments include three or more dwelling units, common property, shared services and infrastructure among dwellings and an applicable management entity.

Two certifications are awarded through the same tool: Green Star SA – Multi Unit Residential Design v1 and Green Star SA – Multi Unit Residential As Built v1 once construction is complete.


Read the full article in the June – July 2012 issue.