SA’s large listed property groups are running initiatives to limit their water usage and reuse the resource, especially in drought-stricken Cape Town.
As the city responded to level five water restrictions, the largest South African real estate group, Growthpoint Properties, has stood out for its water saving progress across the Mother City. More than 20% of Growthpoint’s R76.9bn South African property portfolio, not counting its 50% stake in the V&A Waterfront, is located in the Western Cape.
Level-five water restrictions require all commercial properties to cut their monthly consumption of municipal drinking water 20% compared with consumption for the previous year.
Growthpoint was already well on its way to achieving this 20% target, said Timothy Irvine, regional asset manager for the Western Cape.
The company intensified its focus on saving water at its buildings in February 2016, which helped it to reduce consumption of municipal drinking water by an average 16%, comparing a 12-month period ending February 2016 with a 12-month period ending July 2017, across its Cape Town office portfolio.
"We have achieved even bigger savings at some buildings. Montclare has more than halved its water consumption over the past six months. Here, Growthpoint worked with proactive clients including Virgin Active, to achieve meaningful savings.
Paramount Place has also halved its water consumption from six months ago. Both buildings are in Claremont, said head of sustainability, Werner van Antwerpen.
"Achieving meaningful water savings at any building that you own, but others use, isn’t easy," he said.
Redefine Properties is also running water-saving initiatives. Ilse Swanepoel, head of utilities at the fund, said Redefine tried to save water wherever possible. Many of its savings measures were administered in common areas at its buildings such as ablution facilities.
"We stopped washing glass facades of buildings more than a year ago. When cleaning common ablution areas, we don’t flush toilets unnecessarily. We have an annual complete carbon and water footprint which will be released in our next annual report," she said.
Hyprop CEO Pieter Prinsloo said by the end of November, the company would have saved 20% of water usage at CapeGate compared with a year before. It was also investigating recycling water at its Somerset Mall.
Vukile Property Fund energy and utilities senior manager Lodewyk van der Zee said it was reviewing options for installing water backup systems at Cape Town shopping centres.