The North Park of the Black River Park office complex was awarded a five-star Existing Building rating by the GBCSA.
As the first ever building to receive an Existing Building rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the 18 675m² North Park in the Black River Park office complex in Observatory, Cape Town, has been recognised with a five-star Existing Building Performance (EBP) certification.
Launched in August 2014, the council’s Green Star SA EBP pilot tool recognises excellence in the performance of existing or older buildings where green building innovations have been introduced. The tool enables the effective measurement of a building’s environmental performance in relation to its operation and management, and provides indicators to ensure that this performance is efficiently maintained or improved upon over time. The rating is valid for a period of three years.
Black River Park is one of the biggest business parks in the Western Cape, and consists of a North and South Park that houses more than 110 companies. The owners, Leaf Capital and Joubert Rabie, are aiming to secure green certification for the entire 75 000m² office park.
The green drive
One of the green initiatives that have been undertaken to secure the EBP certification was the installation of the largest rooftop photovoltaic system in the Southern Hemisphere. This 1,2MW system produces about 1,9GWh of electricity per year, enough to power over 1 000 average-sized houses. This equates to between 20 and 30% of the total amount of energy used in Black River Park, and reduces the peak demand on the City’s electrical grid by about 18%. It is also the first commercial project to be allowed to feed back into the grid and be remunerated for it.
Ecologically friendly gardens, including a vegetable garden and fruit orchard, were planted and are maintained with borehole water pumped on site, while all garden waste is recycled to create mulch.
A storm water management plan was implemented that recognises site-related practices which limit the disruption of natural hydrology, minimise pollution and site deterioration, while a hard services management plan was also developed to encourage environmentally sensitive hard services maintenance practices that reduce the environmental impact and improve ecology value.
The park has further engaged with a new recycling-focused waste contractor in order to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfill. This is aided by the placement of recycling bins around the park to encourage sorting of waste from the source and minimising contamination.
Standard cleaning consumables have been exchanged with an environmentally friendly range of cleaning products and equipment as well.
Cycling and shower facilities were made available to tenants in the park’s Crossfit Gym, to encourage alternative modes of transport and a healthy and active lifestyle.
Indoor air quality was also a major focus with temperature, humidity and CO₂ tests being undertaken in conjunction with natural and artificial lighting tests. Energy-efficient lighting has been installed throughout the common areas of building and is being rolled out into tenants’ premises through a joint financing initiative.
In addition, shop fronts with performance glass dominate the buildings’ facade in order to maximise views to the outside for building users. This visual connection to the external environment, in combination with floor-to-ceiling heights in excess of 3,5m, has the benefit of reducing eyestrain for the building occupants and contributes to a better working environment.
To reinforce these innovations, awareness was raised among tenants through talks, interviews and presentations, and a Building User’s Guide was published, which includes the procurement and purchasing of paints, carpets, adhesives and sealants for maintenance and fit-out work.
Brian Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the GBCSA, urges both the private sector and government to look more seriously at securing green ratings for existing buildings.
“If we want to make a bigger positive impact in making buildings more sustainable, existing buildings need to be targeted. Our Existing Building rating tool aims to drive the transformation of these buildings to become more sustainable spaces,” he says.
“There are many older or existing buildings that can get green makeovers. Building owners need to take the initiative and show green leadership, like the owners of Black River Park have done,” Wilkinson adds.
Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the GBCSA for the information given to write this article.
Green innovations at Black River Park
– A rooftop photovoltaic system that produces about 1,9GWh of electricity per year.
– Energy-efficient lighting.
– Ecologically friendly gardens, maintained with on-site borehole water.
– Recycling of all garden waste.
– Shop fronts with performance glass.
– Cycling and shower facilities.
– A Crossfit Gym.
– Education and raising awareness of greening initiatives.
– Environmentally friendly cleaning products and equipment.
– Implementation of an environmentally friendly storm water management plan.
– Development of a hard services management plan.