Nelson Mandela Bay’s newest green building has saved an estimated 40 000kg of CO₂ emissions in the past twelve months, according to Algoa FM managing director, Alfie Jay.

This saving in fossil fuel emissions is thanks to the iconic Algoa FM headquarters in Baakens River Valley being designed with sustainability in mind, by incorporating solar panels to minimise power use. It is also the first building in Nelson Mandela Bay to have installed “shade-type” solar panels, screening the windows on the north face of the building.

Harnessing solar power
According to Jay, the 41 solar panels, together with the 188 solar panels on the roof, have been supplemented with the first solar carport structure in the metro to be built using an aluminium cantilever frame.

“We now generate up to 115kW of clean power, which supplies between 35% and 45% of our needs in the five-storey media house. With the addition of the 97 panels on the carport, we will reduce our carbon footprint even further. The clean power also feeds one of the first electric vehicle chargers in the metro. Excess electricity is fed into the Nelson Mandela Bay grid periodically,” he says.

Smart technology – big difference
Power consumption in the building is reduced by the inclusion of technology such as LED lights, which are controlled by 40 motion sensors in low-traffic areas, throughout the building. Intelligent variable speed air-conditioners adapt to the conditions and can be set independently for different offices, which impacts positively on the power consumption. Special insulation in the roof also helps to keep the temperature constant.

In addition, there are no hot-water geysers in the kitchens or bathrooms – they are fitted with units which heat up water when it is required. Water consumption has further been reduced by harvesting captured rainwater and condensation from the air-conditioning units to flush all the toilets in the building.

The outside of the building is lit by solar streetlights and the landscaping utilises spekboom plants, which act as a carbon sponge.

Preserving rich biodiversity
“As a leading corporate citizen, we take our responsibility very seriously and to this end, ensured that about 90% of all costs related to the building were spent with local companies – with special emphasis on our small business neighbours in the Baakens River Valley. We are pleased that this multimillion-rand investment has already had a positive impact on the local economy,” says Jay.

There are also ongoing benefits – one of the reasons for selecting the site was to contribute positively towards the revitalisation of Baakens River Valley, with a view to transforming it into a unique tourism attraction, which will further benefit the economy.

“There are few cities in the world bisected by a valley with the rich biodiversity of the Baakens River, with its more than 100 bird species, 24 reptile species, seven frog species and 24 mammal species. It is a true privilege to look out of these windows and see the start of the 23km of trails up the river and continuing deep into Algoa country. It is a natural heritage that all of us as a metro need to conserve,” concludes Jay.

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