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GBCSA / Certify / Green Star Tools

Green Star Tools

An internationally recognised and trusted mark of quality for the design, construction and operation of buildings, interior fitouts and precincts.

The Green Building Council develops the Green Star SA rating tools to provide an objective measurement for green buildings in South Africa and Africa. These tools recognise and reward environmental leadership in the property industry.

Our Green Star tools are created for each building type and support design professionals and developers in creating a better built environment for people and planet. The tools are based on 9 different categories, each with a range of credits that address environmental and sustainability aspects of designing, constructing and operating a building.

Green Star rating tools

We have 4 tools for rating new buildings across South Africa and Africa.

The Office Tool is used for rating new office developments and major refurbishments of commercial buildings.

The Retail Tool is for the development of new commercial retail centres as well as major refurbishments of existing retail centre facilities.

The Public & Education (PEB) Tool is for the development of new public and education buildings . 

The Multi-Unit Residential (MUR) tool is for the development of 3 or more dwelling units with common property, shared services and infrastructure. 

All these tools have 2 certifications available within them:

  1. Design: Based on tenders drawings & specifications
  2. As Built: Based on as-built drawings and commissioning records

Certification for these tools are 4; 5 and 6 Stars.

  • 4 Stars: "Best Practice"
  • 5 Stars: "South African Excellence"
  • 6 Stars: "World Leadership"

The Existing Building Performance Tool assesses the environmental performance and operations of any type of existing building in operation. 

Unlike the new building tools this is an as built tool only.

The rating is valid for a period of 3 years in order to ensure the building is continually well operated and maintained. The ratings given for this tool are from 1 to 6 stars.

  • 1 Star – “On the journey to a better, greener building”
  • 2 Star – “On the journey to a better, greener building”
  • 3 Star – “Good Practice”
  • 4 Star – “Best Practice”
  • 5 Star – “South African Excellence”
  • 6 Star – “World Leadership”


This tool puts the power in the hands of the tenant, allowing each tenancy to have their unique environmental design initiatives fairly and independently benchmarked. The tool rewards high-performance tenant spaces that are healthy, productive places to work; are less costly to operate and maintain; and have a reduced environmental footprint.

This tool also caters for volume certification by pre-certifying data sheets and certain specifications for fit-outs that get rolled out to several branches. 

Unlike the new building tools there is only 1 certification available for this tool.

The ratings given for this tool are 4; 5 and 6 stars.

  • 4 Star – “Best Practice”
  • 5 Star – “South African Excellence”
  • 6 Star – “World Leadership”


The Sustainable Precincts tool evaluates large scale development projects at a precincts / neighbourhoods scale. Unlike the other Green Star tools, the emphasis is on the site wide issues rather than building specific issues. The tool rates the planning, design and construction of a precinct only and it does not rate specific buildings or assess its operation. 

There are 2 certifications for this tool; initial certification and re-certification. The initial certification certifies the master plan which needs to be re-certified every 5 years to make sure the development is on track with the initial green aims.

The ratings given for this tool are 4; 5 and 6 stars.

  • 4 Star – “Best Practice”
  • 5 Star – “South African Excellence”
  • 6 Star – “World Leadership”

Become an Accredited Professional

Join one of our upcoming AP Programmes

Our AP Programmes are offered online and face to face. 

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How does Green Star Work?

To rate a building or fitout’s overall environmental impact, Green Star rating tools award points across nine categories.

Each category has a number of credits within it that each address specific green building aspects and actions. Each credit has points associated to it and a project team, via the AP, will target certain credits in each category. The targeted credits are then assessed and a score is calculated. 

Weighting factors that are specific to each different tool are then applied to the score card to get the final rating. The weighting differs per tool to reflect the distinct environmental concerns in the different building sectors.

1. Management

The credits within the management category promote the adoption of environmental principles from project inception, design and construction phases, to commissioning and operation of the building and its systems.

2. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ)

Each of the credits in the IEQ category target the well being of the occupants. The credits address how the heating, cooling, lighting and indoor air pollutants contribute to a healthier indoor environmental qulaity.

3. Energy

The credits within the energy category target an overall reduction in energy consumption and a reduction of green house gas emissions associated with energy generation.

4. Transport

The credits within the transport category reward the reduction in automotive commuting while encouraging use of alternative transport

5. Water

All the water credits aim to reduce the use of potable water through design of efficient systems, rainwater collection and water re-use.

6. Materials

All the credits in the water category target the consumption of resources through the selection and reuse of materials. The concept is to reduce the amount of natural resources used and reuse materials that can be reused or recycled.

7. Land Use & Ecology

All the credits in the land use & ecology section promote initiatives that improve or reduce the buildings impact on ecological systems and biodiversity.

8. Emissions

All the emissions credits target the environmental impacts of a developments emissions or substances emitted from the site.

9. Innovation

The innovation category encourages, recognises and rewards the spread of innovative technologies, designs and processes that impact on the overall environmental performance of the building.

10: Additional Category: Socio Economic

This additional category can be applied to all new building tools and rewards projects for developing and improving the socio-economic conditions around a project.

Member Profiles

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Green Star Certification Process

To steer a successful submission get yourself trained as an Accredited Professional in the appropriate tool, alternatively browse our AP directory to find a suitable AP to help guide you through the certification. A third party AP is strongly advised on every project, the more knowledgeable you are the more efficient the process.

For some tools it is mandatory to have an accredited professional on the project.

The correct rating tool needs to selected in order to rate the project. Tools are available for different building types. 

In order to register for certification you need to be sure your project will meet both the eligibility criteria and conditional requirements set out for each rating tool.

You or your selected AP will need to register your project on the Certification Engine, our portal for online submissions and our communication channel for certifying projects. 

Your project is only registered once payment has been received and you have uploaded a signed certification agreement to the certification engine.

Once collating all the relevant data, drawings and information, you and your AP are ready to submit evidence of the green measures to be used in the building. This information is submitted via the certification engine and must comply with the documentation requirements outlined in the relevant Green Star technical manual. 

The GBCSA facilitates a third party review of the submitted documentation and information with a GBCSA approved assessor and/or moderators, after which a score and Green Star rating is recommended. Additional guidance is given if you require Round 2 to achieve the star rating you were targeting.

Round 2 submission allows for you to provide additional information to your documentation in line with the assessor/moderator guidance to achieve the star rating you are originally targeting.

The GBCSA will notify you of your final results and you can reap the rewards of a certified building. Certificates and logos will be issued to each certified project in order to show your hard work. Each project is issued with a plaque that states the achieved rating that can be displayed in a prominent place.

Accredited Professionals