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SA's green buildings on the rise

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24 Dec 2012

In October, Alexander Forbes, one of South Africa’s largest diversified financial services businesses, celebrates its new building, 115 West Street in Sandton Johannesburg, as a milestone in South African green building technology and design.

In the Western Cape, the Waterkloof Estate located on the outskirts of Somerset West and renowned for its sustainable wine farming ethics won South Africa’s Best Architecture and Landscape title for the second consecutive year in the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2013.

According to Edward Kieswetter, Alexander Forbes chief executive, the property’s green status is particularly significant because it reflects Alexander Forbes’ commitment to the responsible investment code by aligning the long-term nature of the business with the long-term imperative of environmental sustainability along with the practical economic benefits of green building.

He notes that the immediate benefits of green buildings include savings on operating costs such as energy and water, meaning 115 West has been ‘future proofed’ from high retrofit costs by virtue of the installation of efficiency measures from the start.

Moreover, Alexander Forbes will benefit directly from its occupation of the building as staff productivity increases, he says.  

Some of the green features in this building include the grey water reticulation system, the natural heating and cooling systems and the processes by which 115 West traps and disperses natural light, saving electricity.

Meanwhile, dhk Architects’ Nedbank Ridgeside office building in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal was awarded the four star “As built” rating under the Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Star rating system for offices.

The rating system recognises achievements in sustainable architecture and thus makes Ridgeside one of fewer than 20 buildings in South Africa to achieve certification and one of only a handful to achieve both “Design” and “As Built” rating status.

The four star rating recognises “best practice” in terms of green design.

In Cape Town, the new Portside building valued at R1.6 billion is set to become South Africa’s first green tall building.

Derick Henstra, executive chairman of the dhk Group, says the design was sensitive to both the environmental and aesthetic requirements of the build.

He explains that the office building is positioned on a landscaped podium, along a central avenue and the building allows for a generous and high quality ‘pedestrian priority’ public realm.

Alternative modes of transportation for commuting to work have been provided.

Dedicated preferential parking bays have been allocated to fuel efficient vehicles and the use of bicycles by occupants and visitors are encouraged by providing tenant and visitor bicycle storage as well as cyclist showers, changing facilities and secure lockers.

In the Western Cape, the Waterkloof Estate located on the outskirts of Somerset West and renowned for its sustainable wine farming ethics won South Africa’s Best Architecture and Landscape title for the second consecutive year in the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2013.

The property also came in the second place in both the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices and Wine Tourism Restaurants categories in the same competition.

In 2009, the appointed ‘cellar in the sky’ – where even the steep incline provides functional advantages in their winemaking process – triumphed as the first South African architectural feat for Castle Rock Design.

This Australian based company enjoys recognition for its innovation in the design and management of wineries, luxury resorts and hospitality related projects with numerous cellars in Australia and Europe.

NMC Construction was the main contractor on Waterkloof’s building project.

The whole principle of its design was based around Waterkloof’s commitment to honesty, transparency and authenticity when it comes to producing its elegant wines and the building, soaring on the slopes of the Schapenberg, is a clear reflection of these principles.

In October, Alexander Forbes, one of South Africa’s largest diversified financial services businesses, celebrates its new building, 115 West Street in Sandton Johannesburg, as a milestone in South African green building technology and design.

Cocooned in a contemporary glass and concrete sphere, the deep, open barrel cellar becomes apparent immediately as one enters the building making way to the slick wine tasting lounge that spills onto the ‘glass box’ fine dining restaurant, which is gorgeously appointed in a 10 metre high glass promontory.

Massive walls of clear glass reveal an ultra-modern gravitational cellar with ranks of wooden, open top fermenters and create a majestic sense of space through the uninterrupted, outstretched views of Waterkloof’s amphitheatre of vineyards and full expanse of False Bay to Cape Point in the distance.

In Cape Town, the new Portside building valued at R1.6 billion is set to become South Africa’s first green tall building.

The 32 floor building climbs above the city’s existing high-rises and green building principles are being incorporated at every level.

Portside occupies the city block between Buitengracht, Hans Strijdom, Bree and Mechau streets, in the emerging financial district on the Foreshore.

It will have 1 200 square metres of banking and retail area with easy access from all sides on the ground level.

The site was bought by Old Mutual Property in two transactions nearly 20 years apart.

First the Brian Porter property in Bree Street was bought on a sale and leaseback basis in the mid-1980s, and the rest of the block was bought from the City of Cape Town in 2007. 

According to its owners, Old Mutual and FirstRand Bank, work began in August 2011 with the City of Cape Town proactively supporting the project by adopting a phased approval process in an attempt to facilitate the rapid development of the site.

Brent Wiltshire, property development executive at Old Mutual Property says they are on schedule for completion of the building in March 2014.

Meanwhile, dhk Architects’ Nedbank Ridgeside office building in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal was awarded the four star “As built” rating under the Green Building Council of South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Star rating system for offices.

“A building of this scale has far-reaching impacts on both employment creation and the ongoing revival and growth of Cape Town’s CBD.”

He says not only will Portside be Cape Town’s tallest building, but we have incorporated environmental considerations in the design, construction and future management of the building.

“Our aim is to achieve a Green Star SA Office rating for both the design and construction (‘As Built’ Rating) of the building, confirming Portside as one of the most sustainable buildings in South Africa, and certainly the first high-rise to achieve this accolade.”

Half of the 50 000 square metre building will house 2 000 employees across First Rand, FNB, RMB and Wesbank’s provincial headquarters.

The remaining 25 000 square metres of AAA premium-grade office space will be available for leasing through Old Mutual Property.

The façade of the building is designed to be disassembled and re-erected on another site should Portside ever be altered in the future.  

Stephan Claassen, provincial head of FNB and Wiltshire say it is important to both FirstRand and Old Mutual to invest in green projects, both for the city and environment, and in order to create a green working environment for our staff and tenants.

Building and creating a healthier work environment for Portside’s future tenants will include providing 150 percent more fresh air than stipulated standards and maximising the views will provide both natural day lighting and a more stimulating, appealing work environment, they say.

Portside will provide secure racks for around 260 bicycles, as well as shower and locker facilities.

Various studies have shown that green building can lead to reduced sick leave and increased productivity, while also making it easier to recruit and retain employees – all of which can impact positively on a business’ bottom line.

In addition, tenants can expect to pay 30 percent less for electricity than a “normal” building, as green energy innovations include greater use of natural light and a lighting system that incorporates light and movement sensors.

Grey water will be captured and filtered from showers and hand basins and, along with harvested rainwater, be used in the toilets. – Denise Mhlanga

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