Attacq proactively works to minimise the impact of our developments and portfolio on the natural environment. This requires responsible action across a range of fronts, including reducing the impact of our developments on biodiversity. We believe biodiversity in ecosystems has many benefits to the natural environment and humans. We also believe that indigenous plants are best adapted to local conditions and will be more resilient, using less of our scarce resources like water. Attacq therefore supports and complies with relevant environmental and conservation legislation in its developments and commits to re-establishing natural habitat and indigenous landscaping to enhance ecological value and improve biodiversity where possible.
We have appointed a biodiversity specialist firm as part of our sustainability approach for Waterfall City. They have focused on enhancing ecological value and developing a biodiversity enhancement plan that includes quantified time-specific targets to address biodiversity impact and a score for all sites in Waterfall where we hold development rights. This includes sites in the planning, construction and operational phase as well as sensitives areas and open space within our responsibility. The aim of the Attacq biodiversity enhancement plan is to achieve a net positive biodiversity impact – we will target new developments as a priority and slowly improve or replace landscaping and improve the associated ecological value of existing sites.
We aim to achieve a sustainable precinct rating for Waterfall City, currently under development, that includes requirements for biodiversity enhancement in line with best-practice sustainability standards. The biodiversity specialist’s scope is in line with the Green Star Sustainable Precincts Rating: enhancement of ecological value credit 29.
The biodiversity enhancement plan has been integrated into our landscape development guidelines and each new development or retrofit project is required to comply. In line with this plan, we have initiated three biodiversity enhancement pilot projects in Waterfall City:
– Link Park between Maxwell Office Park and Allandale Building
– Karkloof Crescent between Mall of Africa and the Courtyard Hotel
– The traffic circle opposite the Netcare Hospital entrance.
The biodiversity specialist firm based their work on the initial environmental impact assessment (EIA) completed by an independent specialist prior to any development. In the EIA, possible impacts on the environment and biodiversity are identified to form the basis of the biodiversity enhancement plan. These impacts are qualified for each stage of the development.
The EIA for Waterfall provided a detailed assessment of biodiversity risks for any new operations or projects in the city. In addition, all habitats previously identified in the EIA will be a key focus of the biodiversity enhancement plan. City-wide maps have been developed to identify adjacent sensitive areas, and to ensure environmental connectivity. Attacq works in partnership with the Waterfall Management Company to address biodiversity beyond the boundary of Waterfall City by considering synergies between adjacent operations and associated impact.
The biodiversity enhancement plan will be based on an assessment of existing sites and identify risks and opportunities for improvement. A monitoring programme, including a set of performance indicators measured on a three-yearly basis (after project completion), will be established. An adaptive management and continual improvement process is critical to the success of biodiversity enhancement, including options for maintaining or revising the trajectory of habitat improvements, to maintain the value of outcomes.
Measures already in place demonstrate our ongoing commitment to maintenance and monitoring of open space and wetland areas in a section of the Waterfall development and how we are protecting natural and biodiverse habitats, such as wetlands. Our goal is to ensure proper rehabilitation, protection and sustainable use of these open areas as part of normal long-term operations. To illustrate this approach:
- Bioswales were planned and built using natural materials to manage stormwater and provide habitats for birdlife in the area
- To protect these habitats and prevent bioswales from becoming clogged, brush vegetation is cut before the wet season, and alien invasive plants removed.
An environmental management plan (EMP) is a critical part of every development by Attacq. The EMP documents methods and procedures for mitigating and monitoring environmental impacts identified in the EIA. Construction is monitored by environmental specialists on regular site visits to assess and ensure compliance with the EMP. The EMP will be adapted beyond normal requirements to include the necessary elements of a biodiversity management plan developed by the appointed specialist.
The Waterfall environmental management forum (WEMF) was officially formed in 2021, with Attacq as one of the main stakeholders due to its share of development rights in the Waterfall farm. One of the key objectives of the forum is to engage in efforts to reduce biodiversity loss, reduce pollution and protect the natural environment in partnership with government and local authorities such as Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as local initiatives such as the Jukskei river catchment management forum and the Vaal River rehabilitation plan. The forum will also investigate ways to manage shared waste streams to identify circular-economy opportunities and reduce waste to landfill.
Attacq recognises climate change as a significant issue facing the world and South Africa specifically; an issue that has real and material operational risk implications for our business and our clients (tenants). In response, Attacq is committed to reducing its contribution to climate change while preparing for its effect on our portfolio. This includes our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- FY18 emission intensity: 0.192 tCO2e per m²
- FY19 emission intensity: 0.190 tCO2e per m² (1.0% year-on-year improvement)
- FY20 emission intensity: 0.182 tCO2e per m² (4.2% year-on-year improvement).
To outline the South African government’s vision on the country’s response to climate change, the Department of Environmental Affairs (now the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) developed the national climate change response white paper, published in 2018. Attacq strives to align with the response actions highlighted in this document and is currently exploring ways to ensure climate-resilient development.
At the same time, we are investigating aligning with the global Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations and have established an internal working group to examine the requirements in the context of our business objectives. We are also considering support for the C40 initiative (a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change) which is focused on reducing energy intensity per square metre to the point where the difference can be completely supported by renewable energy (net zero).
Attacq has achieved its goals of developing its own assured energy intensity baseline for all buildings, clients, sectors and the portfolio in FY20. As a result, we are able to more rapidly identify underperforming buildings, high energy users (clients) and losses or consumption irregularities that require investigation or intervention. We can also monitor and measure the impact of any improvements.
At the request of Attacq’s transformation, social and ethics (TSE) committee, a climate-change specialist has been appointed to develop an associated risk assessment of Waterfall City and an action plan to guide future development. Board oversight of climate change is managed through the TSE committee and includes Jackie Van Niekerk (CEO), Hellen El Heimer (independent non-executive director and chairperson), Giles Pendleton (chief development officer) and Kyra Rautenbach (sustainability manager).
This specialist has developed and assessed climate-change scenarios and impacts on the portfolio using different time scales, relevant to the anticipated lifespan. The intent is that a company-wide climate-change adaption plan will be developed to identify potential risks and risk management procedures for the city and its people. The risks have considered the ecology of the city in terms of its assets and key infrastructure, for example roads, public open space, electricity and communications infrastructure, hospitals, police, fire, etc. Primary effects of climate change such as air temperature, solar radiation, precipitation, wind and humidity all have a direct impact on the city.
As part of mitigating climate change, we are committed to sensible renewable energy projects. When correctly designed, these reduce operational costs, improve the resilience of our buildings and reduce the carbon footprint of our portfolio.
Attacq strongly believes in the need to continually invest in research and development and innovation to monitor our risk and gauge the appropriate response from a company level. For example, Attacq has invested over R500 000 into a smart weather station that monitors and reports on climate change in Waterfall City by measuring:
- solar radiation levels
- daylight and artificial light levels at night
- noise levels
- carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels
- airborne pollutants
- pollen levels
- air quality
- hail and lightning activity.
The city has its own unique microclimate. A smart weather station allows us to observe climate change and future-proof new developments. The supporting weather files are also issued to professional design teams consider in the design and operation of new and existing buildings and their systems in Waterfall.
Establishing baselines and portfolio performance benchmarking
In FY20, we began mapping all our internal and external stakeholders’ required metrics for sustainability while identifying opportunities to improve. To achieve an acceptable level of assurance, meet our reporting requirements and ensure sustainability reporting adds value to our core business activities, we have appointed an expert firm to develop an eco-analytics reporting tool to track these metrics. We have completed our short-term goal of tracking the cost, intensity and quantity of emissions at a client, building, sector and portfolio level by developing an assured baseline of performance data.
For optimal efficiency, the eco-analytics tool has helped us build a database across our core business activities for informed decisions to drive down the cost of occupancy and reduce our carbon footprint. The first step is to establish baselines for water, waste and energy consumption as well as GHG emissions in existing buildings to determine which initiatives would be most effective or provide the greatest impact, then measure performance from that basis.
The next step is to develop and test reduction targets for feasibility and impact. Reduction targets will follow the Science-based Target Initiative (SBTI) methodology for Real Estate Investment Trusts, which aligns with the Paris climate accord. This includes assessing scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions for different time scales and developing a specific process to achieve the reduction targets. This will include setting specific targets and month-to-month performance for:
- Energy-use intensity per property type across the portfolio
- Water-use intensity per property type across the portfolio
- Waste intensity per property type per waste stream across the portfolio.
Conserving resources and improving efficiency
We are committed to managing our natural resources efficiently and responsibly. Key challenges at present are the cost and security of supply for both water and electricity. While our new developments meet world-class standards of environmental efficiency, reflected in numerous certifications for ‘green’ buildings, managing water and electricity consumption in our older assets is more challenging.
The key elements of our natural resources are waste, water, energy, transport and technology.
Attacq is continuously investigating ways to become more energy efficient, and budget is allocated on a case-by-case basis where an initiative will be beneficial to the business. We are therefore committed to improving energy and water efficiency across our portfolio over the next three years. We are adding rainwater-harvesting storage capacity to our portfolio to improve our resilience and reduce the use of potable water in our buildings for sanitation, landscaping irrigation and more. We are making significant progress towards our target of one million litres of storage capacity – by FY20, we had installed 883 200 litres.
To better manage energy consumption, Attacq uses smart meters throughout its portfolio and has set this as the standard for all new developments. To further improve the measurement and management of energy efficiency in properties, we have rolled out building management systems (BMS) in our bigger properties and are considering the business case to extend these across the portfolio.
Similarly, the environmental and economic cost of waste generated in the day-to-day operation of our property portfolio is not sustainable. Therefore, it is a priority for Attacq to address our waste management. We believe the cost of avoiding pollution is always lower than the total cost of cleaning up pollution. We are therefore committed to reducing pollution in all forms across our portfolio over the next three years. At the Waterfall development, we also work with adjacent residential estates to clean up the river running through their developments.
We deliberately design all our new buildings for water efficiency. Measures include low-flow showers and dual-flush toilets. More importantly, specific attention is given to the thermal load of new buildings and the heat, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system designs to reduce water consumption over the life of the properties. In addition, we developed standards for indigenous and water-wise landscaping for our building sites and city to be implemented going forward.
South Africa is still experiencing one of the most severe droughts in recorded history. The lack of rainfall has had significant implications on supply chains indirectly, in terms of construction delays (due to lack of water), client occupancy and client affordability. Directly, the lack of water can cause significant operational disruptions to our buildings. Delays to new buildings may result in penalties being imposed on Attacq due to missing delivery timelines to clients. For existing buildings, we will ensure water is sourced from alternative sources. This could be an expensive process due to transporting water to water-deprived sites. Delivering potable water under emergency conditions costs around R3 450 per 8kl, or 13 times more than normal. For the largest mall in our portfolio, Mall of Africa, it would cost R1.35m per week to keep it running normally if water had to be delivered.
We invest in ongoing research to monitor our water risk and gauge the appropriate response from a company level. This includes a detailed water-risk assessment of the entire upstream water value chain in Gauteng and the Western Cape, with ongoing water testing and analysis of results.
Being part of the larger Waterfall farm, we have the unique opportunity to collaborate with neighbouring estates and landowners in the area to pilot the use of indigenous grasses and landscaping along shared roads. The goal is to reduce irrigation-water demand to a minimum. We are therefore committed to improving water efficiency across our portfolio over the next three years.
Attacq’s objective is to embed its sustainability requirements for new and existing buildings into the service level agreements and procurement processes of existing or operational buildings, as well as the design of new buildings. The policy and technical requirements for all aspects of energy, water, waste, transport and technology primarily focus on reducing the intensity of resource use, with a direct impact on the cost of occupancy and carbon footprint. We have developed the green lease for our retail portfolio which includes over 800 clients, or 289 895m² of gross lettable area.
We are also drafting a sustainable procurement policy for internal operations, which will address aspects including:
- Product material sourcing
- Product manufacture
- Product disposal
- Recycled content
- Impact to human health.
It is easy to see how operating buildings emits greenhouse gases. Just as real but harder to see is how buying and installing building materials, products and appliances causes emissions. Life-cycle assessment considers carbon at every stage from extracting raw materials, manufacture, transport to site, use in construction, use in operation, demolition and ultimately recycling a building. Attacq is investigating ways to include sustainable life-cycle analysis into its planning, development and operations.
Attacq has developed a sustainability policy to ensure sustainable design performance and operational requirements are embedded into all new and existing buildings. The company’s management is tasked to embed these requirements into their daily, as well as medium and long-term decisions. Only through sustainable design performance and operation of new and existing buildings will we ensure value creation and achieve our sustainability objectives.
Our position on carbon tax
We have established a detailed inventory of our installed generator capacity, rated efficiency, and output thermal energy per generator in our portfolio. Based on our assessment, we have registered two subsidiaries (Attacq Waterfall Investment Company Proprietary Limited and Attacq Retail Fund Proprietary Limited) with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for emitting licences. The carbon tax paid via the fuel levy for diesel and petrol emissions produced by our generators, offset against our carbon tax liability, results in a zero-tax liability. Regardless of this status, we are meeting our compliance obligation to accurately report to SARS. We are monitoring the Carbon Tax Act and its implications for our clients.
Attacq’s current unit cost of carbon:
- FY20: R1 499
- FY19: 1 074
- FY18: R767