Sunday 8 November 2015

SBAT Residential Course

Gauge Capability has developed a new course on the Sustainable Building Assessment Tool (SBAT). The course covers the latest version of SBAT Residential and shows how this can be used to guide the development of sustainable housing.

The SBAT supports an integrated and responsive approach to achieving high sustainability performance in buildings. The tool is based on a holistic approach to addressing sustainability and includes social, economic and environmental criteria. It is easy and cost-effective to use and is particularly relevant to developing country contexts.

SBAT criteria are based on a definition of sustainability found in the Living Planet Index (WWF 2006). This defines sustainability as the attainment of a living standard of over 0.8 on the Human Development Index (HDI) while also achieving an ecological footprint (EF) of less than a 1.8gha per person. The SBAT measures the performance of the built environment in terms of its capability to support the achievement of living standards of above 0.8 on the Human Development Index (HDI) and an ecological footprint (EF) of less than a 1.8gha per person.

The focus of the SBAT, therefore, to measure the extent to which built environments have the required characteristics and the configuration to enable users and occupants to live in a sustainable way.  

The SBAT can be used to set targets for sustainability performance for buildings and their neighbourhoods. It can also be used to assess and validate the sustainability performance of buildings and designs

 For more information on the course click here.

Sunday 9 February 2014

SATS 1286 on Local Content

A diverse, thriving local economy has been identified as an important requirement for sustainability. A diverse mix of small business means that economies are more resilient and jobs are retained even if there are economic downturns in one, or more, sectors. Local small business have to deal with the consequences of their actions in the long term and therefore tend to be more interested in sustainability and minimising negative local impacts. In rural areas diversity of work and economic opportunities help to retain youth, maintain communities and reduce disruptive rural-urban migration.

Local economies can be supported through procurement which favours local production. In South Africa the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) Act 5 of 2000 enables the government to use procurement to support increased local production. It sets out minimum local content requirements for designated sectors for goods, works and service contracts.

In order to support the achievement of minimum local content requirements the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has developed SATS 1286 which are technical specifications for determining local content. The SABS also provides a verification service which confirms local content. The specifications and service were launched in July 2013.

New Standard for Developing Skills through Construction Works Contract

The Construction Industry Board (CIDB) have developed a new standard which addresses how training objectives can be achieved as part of construction projects. The standard aims to help clients, such as government, who wish to achieve social and economic objectives such as training and job creation, as part of infrastructure and built environment development projects. The standard sets out contract skills development goals (CSDG) for different types of project including civil engineering, electrical engineering, general building and specialist projects. These goals are defined in terms of a notional cost of training opportunities which the contractor must spend on workplace training of employees and interns during the project, defined as a percentage of the total contract amount.

The standard provides definitions, calculation methodologies, contract clauses and monitoring processes which can be used to achieve training objectives.  A criticism of the approach is that it is based on cost which does not necessarily ensure quality or maximise impact in terms of the number of people trained. The prescriptive approach may also lead to increases in project costs. An alternative approach could have been based on improvements in levels of academic achievement and hours of training. This would link more neatly with the way courses and learning achievement are defined in terms of notional hours and credits by academic frameworks such as Unit Standards and Qualifications developed by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The standard however is a significant improvement on the vague and unenforceable requirements for training often currently included in tenders and contract documentation. A draft copy of the standard is available on the CIDB’s website here:

The Value of Green Space

Increased incidences of mental illness have been shown to exist in cities. Conversely living near green spaces has been shown to reduce mental distress. A new study confirms the strong link between well being and green spaces. The study is based on 10,000 individuals finds strong correlations between the lower mental distress and well being for people who live in urban areas with more green space.

This confirms the importance of providing green areas in cities and specifically, near to where people live and work, so that this can be experienced everyday. Given that many of our cities are already developed and some have limited parks and gardens, how can more green spaces be provided?

This could be achieved by:

  • Taking over derelict urban areas and developing these as food and ornamental gardens.
  • Upgrading and greening 'brown route networks'  (see Green and Brown networks).
  • Requiring all buildings to provide areas of green. On tight congested sites this could be provided in the form of planted beds, roof gardens and creepers or vertical gardens. 
  • Requiring buildings and sites which develop, or already have gardens, to make these publicly accessible and share these with neighbors and passersby. 
These requirements have been included as criteria in the BEST and SBAT tools, which aim to support the integration of sustainability into the built environment. 

Setting Targets and Assessing Sustainability Performance for a Sierra Leone Office Building

Sustainability performance of new buildings depends largely on the brief and targets provided to the design team. Where these are challenging and followed up with stringent monitoring and evaluation processes, high performance can be achieved. However, as well as a 'strong client' with clear sustainability objectives, an appropriately skilled and motivated design team is required; as achieving high performance requires research and a range of options to be explored in a rigorous, and iterative, way.

Gauge has been involved in setting sustainability targets and assessing designs for an office building in Free Town, Sierra Leone. The SBAT Work  tool was used for this and a range of options explored. These ranged from 'Above Average' (SBAT 1.1), 'Good Performance' (SBAT 2.5) and 'Exceptional Performance' (SBAT 4.5). These results are shown in the SBAT reports below. Reports provide details of overall performance (in the black band at the top) and performance in respective SBAT criteria areas (in the spider diagram in the middle). This process enables all stakeholders to understand the implications of sustainability targets and enables appropriate targets to be set, agreed and pursued through the design and development of the project.

SBAT 1.1
SBAT 2.5
SBAT 4.5

Monday 16 September 2013

SBAT Service Station

SBAT Service Station has been used to identify interventions at existing service stations in South Africa to improve sustainability performance. The study found that a wide range of interventions could be carried out to improve sustainability performance of service stations.

Interventions proposed not only served to improve the sustainability of the site and building, but also supported improved sustainability performance of the local area, through for instance, improved local access banking, retail and communication facilities.

Implementing many of the interventions could be readily justified as interventions had payback periods of under 2 years and would yield significant reductions in operational costs, as well as improved environmental and social performance.

SBAT service station was also used to propose a new prototype for service stations. The new prototypes addressed projections within the industry related to fossil fuels and alternative energy sources by developing access, service and structural strategies that enabled a flexible and responsive approach to the provision of energy and other services locally.

Recommendations by Gauge have been adopted and a R500 million building programme is being undertaken. Further detail can be found at: