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As part of its continuing mission to embed sustainability into every facet of its operations, Morningside Shopping Centre has highlighted significant advancements in its environmental strategies. Already recognised for its pioneering green practices, the centre has taken further strides by enhancing its innovative solar power, battery backup, and generator hybrid system, which became fully operational in March 2024.

Morningside Shopping Centre, located in leafy Sandton, Johannesburg, is a premier retail destination offering a blend of fashion, food, and lifestyle options. Owned by shopping centre investor and developer Flanagan & Gerard Property Group and Grapnel Property Group, the centre is committed to providing a superior shopping experience while actively pursuing initiatives that contribute to a sustainable future.

Continual improvement of alternative power and water systems

The newly implemented solar power, battery backup, and generator hybrid system represents a pivotal shift from traditional diesel generators to a more comprehensive approach that seamlessly integrates solar panels, batteries, and existing generators. This innovative solution not only addresses frequent power outages but also significantly reduces diesel consumption, thereby ensuring uninterrupted service and an enhanced experience for tenants and customers.

“By integrating cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices, Morningside Shopping Centre is setting a new standard for the industry. Our commitment to sustainability is not just about enhancing operational efficiency but also about making a positive impact on the environment and our community,” says Sharon Henry, Centre Manager of Morningside Shopping Centre.

The fully synchronised system incorporates 275kW of solar power capacity, two 500kWh batteries, and two 500kV diesel generators. The battery system can power the entire shopping centre load for up to two hours, providing a critical buffer during power cuts. This reduces reliance on diesel-powered generators and minimises environmental impact.

As part of its commitment to water conservation, the centre has also expanded its backup water system, adding 10 new tanks to the existing fourteen 5,000-litre tanks. This enhancement ensures a more reliable water supply.

Community engagement and environmental stewardship

In addition to managing energy resources, Morningside Shopping Centre has introduced the innovative Neighbour Roots urban farming initiative. A collaborative venture between Flanagan & Gerard Properties and urban farmer Zandile Khumalo, this urban rooftop farm continues to redefine urban agriculture.

Situated on the roof of the shopping centre, this 300m² farm leverages cutting-edge hydroponic technology, which substitutes traditional soil with water-based, nutrient-rich solutions, to dramatically reduce water usage by up to 80%. This method not only maximises limited urban space but also enhances the environmental efficiency of the farm. Neighbour Roots provides the centre’s restaurants with fresh, pesticide-free produce. Neighbour Roots also places a strong emphasis on community involvement, actively participating in local school programmes and hosting educational initiatives aimed at spreading knowledge about sustainable farming techniques.

Further emphasising Morningside Shopping Centre’s commitment to sustainability, the introduction of energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the centre’s basements and the installation of the third electric vehicle charging station in Gauteng align with broader efforts to reduce energy consumption and promote sustainable transportation options.

The shopping centre has enhanced its waste management system by introducing Biobin technology, which converts restaurant waste into compost. This initiative not only reduces landfill waste but provides an affordable and sustainable waste management option and supports the centre’s landscaping with high-quality compost.

Current landscaping efforts are focused on including more Spekboom, an indigenous plant known for its low water requirements and carbon-absorbing properties. This attractive succulent is an excellent replacement for more water-thirsty plants and is easy to maintain.

Advancing co-operative public-private partnerships

When it comes to community engagement and traffic management, Morningside Shopping Centre is proud of its collaboration with the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) that has enabled the integration of the traffic lights at the intersection of Rivonia Road and Outspan Road with the centre’s power system, easing traffic congestion during power outages.

The Johannesburg Road Agency’s, Acting Chief Executive Officer Zweli Nyathi, had this to say about JRA’s partnership with Morningside Shopping Centre. “Collaborating with Morningside Shopping Centre allows us to extend the reach of our Traffic Signal Backup Power initiative which has already seen 40 companies currently powering 113 intersections providing power from their reserves during load shedding. The collaborations have gone a long way in improving safety for both pedestrians and motorists, reducing road rage incidents as well as the time spent on the roads due to compromised traffic flow. This partnership not only supports JRA’s commitment to maintaining efficient city traffic flow but also demonstrates the potential of collaborations to improve urban living conditions. JRA’s next step is to achieve smart and adaptive traffic signals systems, and the entity will soon be requesting proposals for innovative ideas on SMART Traffic Signal controllers that will propel JRA and the City towards achieving the ideals of being a Smart City.

“JRA commends Morningside Shopping Centre for their initiatives and sees the centre’s efforts as highlights of the leadership of Morningside Shopping Centre and its owners in adopting eco-friendly practices and in the process set a new benchmark for sustainability in the retail sector and ensuring a better future for all involved.”

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