Going Green Never Goes Out of Style

Balwin Properties-13

De Zicht Lifestyle Centre by dhk Architects

Size:  601.16 m² 

Cost: R12 million  

Completed: 2020 

Location: Milnerton, Cape Town

The De Zicht Lifestyle Centre is a residential development with apartments, landscaped gardens, and a sustainable single-storey community centre. Located in the sandy, fynbos vegetation of Cape Town’s suburb of Milnerton bordering Swartland Shale Renosterveld vegetation, the development posed no identified ecological risks or constraints to the environment. Situated within the De Zicht lifestyle estate developed by Balwin Properties, the single-storey community centre project hosts a plethora of amenities such as a gym, laundromat, offices and spa. 

Green Star rating 

Balwin Properties Ltd, the developer of De Zicht, has a clear mandate to develop sustainable buildings. Steve Brooks, the CEO of Balwin Properties is a director of the South African Green Building Council and a pioneer in terms of implementing more sustainable development practices. 

The De Zicht Community Centre (DZCC) is a human-centric development comprising a welcoming 2 812m², single-storey building with outdoor amenities including a swimming pool, five-a-side soccer pitch and outdoor recreational areas. The facility is designed to ensure a healthy, comfortable and enjoyable user experience, while minimizing the impact on the natural environment. 

DZCC is the second Balwin community centre to achieve a 6-star green star rating, according to Matthew Whalley, the Balwin Green Innovation Manager. A customized public and educational building (PEB) rating system was developed especially for community centres to ensure the professional grading of these developments. Subsequently, all Balwin Lifestyle Centres have achieved a 6-star Green Star rating, placing it in a world leading category of sustainable development. 

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Greenhouse gas emissions 

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) the built environment is a primary contributor to global warming and climate change, responsible for 38% of global carbon emissions. Embodied carbon of construction materials accounts for 10% and operational carbon is responsible for 28% of the emissions. Our primary focus was on reducing the operational carbon footprint of the Lifestyle Centre. 

Energy modelling was conducted by the Solid Green team prior to construction in order to evaluate anticipated building performance. The energy model was used for comparative purposes with a theoretical benchmark base building, as defined in the SANS 10400 XA regulations. An improvement of 100% was achieved, meaning that the entire base building energy load is supplied, equating to a nett zero operational carbon footprint. In other words, the development carbon emissions is 0kg CO2/m²/year. 

Designated electrical and fuel-efficient parking bays are provided at the DZCC to encourage the use of alternative-fuel vehicles, with smaller greenhouse gas footprints. Bicycle and motorcycle bays as well, are provided to encourage non-motorised and small-bore combustion engine modes of transport. 

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Energy consumption 

Operationally, sub-metering of all energy-consuming systems ensures granular consumption data capture and assists with better energy management. Information is analysed and used to determine energy saving opportunities and identify consumption anomalies, which can then be rectified. This is a simple, yet valuable tool for facilities and operational management. 

Electricity consumption has been reduced wherever possible. Artificial lighting energy consumption by implementing smaller switched zones. The building as well, is divided into smaller spaces and circuits within spaces. This ensures that electricity is only consumed where needed, not lit by blanket lighting installations.  

Daylighting complements the artificial lighting with 80% of occupied areas having direct views to the outdoors. This feature also ensures good solar penetration in winter, improving thermal performance, which was evaluated in the energy model prepared by Solid Green. The energy model results are within the international ASHRAE Standard limits for ensuring thermal comfort of habitable spaces, achieved for 98% of the operational hours. 

Finally, a rooftop solar photovoltaic array mitigates peak demand conditions, reducing the demand on electrical distribution grids. This is a cornerstone of the energy consumption and related carbon emissions mitigation steps implemented. 


A looming day zero in Gqeberha and the 2018 Cape Town water scare highlight the value of this essential natural resource and the importance of managing water consumption. The DZCC incorporates rainwater harvesting for flushing toilets, laundromat grey-water storage for irrigation and water-efficient fittings. Sub-metering is also applied to the water supply system, to assess consumption and potential for water-saving measures. 

Rudy Schaeble, Civil Engineer on the project designed an intricate storm water system based on the City of Cape Town sustainable development and stormwater systems [SUDS] strategy, ensuring ground water recharge and the management of flood conditions whilst mitigating waste and pollution. 

Biodiversity and biophilia 

Balwin’s Steve Brooks is a tree and nature enthusiastic and Balwin’s developments include extensive natural planting with a focus on indigenous and locally sourced plant species – the projects have particularly prolific tree planting, which provides shaded outdoor areas and a softened natural visual identity. 

At DZCC, the landscape elements have been extend into the interior design. Here plants are used in combination with furniture groupings to define public spaces. Spekboom is a favourite due to its carbon sequestering qualities. 

Environmentally friendly materials 

Healthy materials, that are not harmful to the natural environment or people, are essential for achieving sustainable buildings. All paints, adhesives, sealants, fire suppression systems and insulating materials used in the DZCC have zero ozone depleting potential and materials were also selected to reduce users’ exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

Management and training 

Environmental and waste management plans are required on all construction projects and count toward the green star accreditation. These provide guidelines for sustainable construction and waste management practices. Cape Town landfill sites are nearing capacity, so waste is recycled and re-used wherever possible. 

Training of the professional design and construction teams was conducted throughout the process to ensure the DZCC complies with the construction and operational requirements of the rating system. The educational aspect is extended to the public by means of learning resources implemented throughout the development. A large 6-star green star plaque graces the entrance area and a live display indicates energy, water and indoor air quality levels. 



Owner: Balwin Properties 

Sustainability consultant:  Solid Green Consulting 

Architect: dhk Architects 

Landscape architect: Tarna Klitzner Landscape Architects 

Electrical engineer:  Neil Lyners and Associates 

Civil engineer: Rudy Schaeble 

Mechanical engineer: Accu Air 

Environmental consultant: Doug Jeffery Environmental Consultants 

Landscape management company: Gordon’s Garden and Waste Management 

BMS system professional: Solid Insight 

Quantity surveyors: Balwin Properties 

Project manager: Balwin Properties 

Main contractor: Balwin Properties 

Facilities management company: Balwin Properties 

dhk Architects



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