DEA progress update: a look at materiality

by Tania Wannenburg
DEA progress update


In this issue, we take a brief look at the new Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) head office in Pretoria, which is rapidly burgeoning on the Pretoria skyline.
Having recently received an impressive six-star Green Star South African Office Design V1 certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the project professionals are all working hard to have it receive a six-star “As Built” rating once completed.


Apart from being the first six-star rated green building in the country’s capital, the building is the first government building in South Africa to achieve the rating. The six-star rating is the highest GBCSA score achieved by a commercial office space of this magnitude, which includes a lettable area of 27 422m².

Brian Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the GBCSA, says: “The DEA has taken the lead and is demonstrating commitment to market transformation in the built environment in South Africa. This is an exceptional illustration of the public and the private sector working together to deliver an outstanding example of green building.”

Material choices
The building’s roof is covered with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which will supply almost 20% of the building’s energy needs. Additionally, the parking area hosts a large concentrated photovoltaic panel (CPV), which tracks the sun during the day and supplies power to the electric vehicle (EV) charging station for the DEA’s EV pilot project.
The architectural vision and mechanical design of the building aims to ensure optimal indoor environmental quality for those working inside the building in order to promote health and well-being. The selection of finishes used on the project therefore plays an integral role in ensuring responsible resource management.

A full cradle-to-grave lifecycle assessment (LCA) was done to ensure that informed decisions were made in terms of everything from the resource-extraction phase to the use and disposal phases.

Lambdaboard®, a thermosetting closed-cell thermal insulation, offers the highest R-value per 25mm than any other commercially available insulation for the building industry. This makes it a very easy option to meet the energy regulations. Being a rigid board that does not deteriorate through creep or other elements found in a building, including hot and cold temperature cycles that are common to other insulation mediums, there are very few limitations in application. It is available with numerous exposed facings to suite application and aesthetics required projects.

For the DEA project, where Lambdaboard® was specified due to the above qualities and more, the fact that it does not contain any HCFCs or HFCs, which compliments the DEA’s present HCFC phase-out programme, was an important criteria. Applications included the under-soffit of the basement, installed by Tate and Nicholson and division or Southey Holdings, with VERSUS acrylic coating to create a seamless finish. 

The facade and concrete slab roof have Lambdaboard® installed to complete the total insulation envelope of the structure.

Facts and figures:

Size: 30 654m²
Cost: R653 million
Timeframe: July 2012 to May 2014
Project developer: Imvelo Concession Company
Architect: Boogertman + Partners
Quantity surveyor: Pentad
Consulting engineers: PD Naidoo and Associates
Facilities manager: Imvelo Facilities Management
Green Star SA-accredited professional: PD Naidoo and Associates

Continuously consciously green

The DEA building is an investment in all senses of the word. Apart from gaining initial six-star status, the public-private partnership agreement under which the project was procured requires the building to maintain this status over a period of 25 years, including scheduled maintenance and any necessary replacements that need to be made during this period. Product choice therefore had to be no to low maintenance products with a long lifespan that will look good for years to come.

A lifecycle assessment (LCA) is a technique that assesses the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process or service by:
• Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases.
• Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases.
• Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision.

Product selection criteria and vetting

Lood Welgemoed from Boogertman + Partners says: “All aspects of the project need to be considered. Examples of this can be found in the use of sprayed-on polymeric external coatings instead of ordinary paint, large expanses of off-shutter concrete, unglazed terracotta cladding and the use of powder-coated aluminium. Internally, the shop-fitted items are all hardwood veneered or lacquered, full-bodied porcelain tiles are used extensively in the communal areas and high-quality carpet tiles are specified for the office areas.”

PD Naidoo and Associates assisted Boogertman + Partners with the sustainability benchmarking and set the expectations for the products used. Every step of the way, they used a very specific performance-based specification methodology to ensure the correct materials are used in the right applications for the building. Every aspect of the building, large or small, was drawn up in 3d CAD (BIM) to ensure a perfect fit and no wastage.

The project makes use of 3D building modelling, allowing the professional team to identify and resolve potential issues before they emerge, thereby improving integration and coordination. Welgemoed says: “Every discipline created 3D building integrated models of their work to ensure that the building was fully coordinated from a services and structural point of view. This reduces on-site issues that tend to cost time and money.”

Key contributing factors to maintaining a holistic and team-oriented approach, and proving that green buildings do not have to necessarily cost more, include the extensive use of renewable energy and optimised mechanical and electrical systems design.

The new DEA building sets out to embody the sector’s dedication to sustainable design and the benchmark for the future of green building in South Africa. As more municipalities and governments adapt green building practices as part of their code, it becomes more of a requirement and less of a luxury – it becomes the definition of good design.

A final word from Lood: “In sustainable product selection, form follows function. Performance is a crucial aspect of material selection and what the performance requirements are, dictates the products you will use. Accessibility, durability and workmanship are all aspects we take into account in specifying for our hi-spec buildings. We specified Lambdaboard® for this very reason and the fact that it does not contain any HCFCs or HFCs, which is in line with the DEA’s present HCFC phase-out programme.”

Tel: (011) 421 0313
Website: www.rigifoam.com

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Boogertman + Partners, the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Green Building Council of South Africa for the information given to write this article.

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