SA can be proud of a new government building that was built with sustainability in mind to service both its occupants and its environment.
The new Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) head office in Pretoria has made a bold statement in terms of sustainable building, receiving a 6-Star Green Star SA Office Design v1 certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) – a first for government buildings in South Africa and the first 6-Star Rated Green Building in the City of Tshwane.
This inspiring achievement demonstrates the passion and dedication that went into ensuring that this building serves its occupants and the environment in the most effective and efficient manner possible, while at the same time setting the standard for all commercial buildings striving to make their mark in an environmentally friendly manner.
In addition, this building has also achieved the highest score for a large commercial office space of this magnitude awarded by the GBCSA to date. “The DEA has taken the lead and is demonstrating its commitment to market transformation in the built environment in South Africa,” commented Brian Wilkinson, GBCSA’s CEO. “This is an excellent illustration of the public and private sectors working together to deliver an outstanding example of green building.”
According to Minister Edna Molewa, this is not just another good-looking block of offices in town, but a performing green building with specific targets on energy efficiency and water efficiency, and housing an industry-first, sophisticated energy consumption mechanism never implemented before in any other project in the construction sector. “It also targets the use of renewable sources of energy and a unique first facilities management system that encapsulates a rigorous penalty regime (with no precedent in the construction sector) to reward operational efficiency and penalise poor performance,” says Minster Edna.
The DEA specified that the building should achieve a minimum 4-Star Green Star SA rating, however, the professional team surpassed this goal by scoring full points in the energy category, while being only the second project to achieve five points in the innovation category.
Facts and figures
• Size: 30 654m²
• Cost: R653-million
• Timeframe: July 2012 to July 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
Boogertman + Partners was appointed by Imvelo Concession Company as the DEA’s professional Architect and Interior Architects. Boogertman + Partners worked according to a design brief that highlighted the need to create a new office that communicates an architectural language to reflect the Department’s environmental and sustainable ideologies. “The DEA requested that the architecture of the building needs to express the core values of the DEA and its willingness to live up to its environmental responsibilities to the public as well as building users,” explains Lood Welgemoed from Boogertman + Partners. “We needed to clearly demonstrate aspects of sustainable design, energy and resource efficiency.”
Carin Wolfaard from Boogertman + Partners adds that the client and building typology called for a selection of floor finishes that were environmentally friendly, durable, easy to maintain and that would last for 25 years. “The DEA plays a critical role in conserving and protecting South Africa’s natural environment and sets the standard for sustainability and conservation,” she says. “Our aim was to specify materials that had very few chemical finishes whilst still maintaining an aesthetic quality through a variety of natural textures; to essentially connect the interiors to the natural environment. From a green point of view, this was a challenging process as it was the moral obligation for the designer to weigh the difficult decision of either importing finishes that are manufactured according to international ‘green standards’ thereby increasing carbon dioxide emissions, or, specifying a local product which may not be manufactured in the most sustainable manner or last as long as intended”.
The following floor types were selected for the specific ground floor finishes:
• Carpet Tiles – Offices, Conference Centre and Meeting rooms
• Wall to wall Carpet – Ministerial Suites
• Full-body porcelain tiles – Circulation areas, Back-of-House and Pause Areas
• Full body floor tiles – Ablution Areas
• Composite decking –Office Breakout Spaces
• Non-Slip full-body porcelain – Kitchens
• Walk-off mats-Entrances
• Safety vinyl hidden-interlocking floor tiles / safety and anti-static vinyl floor tiles – installed on raised access floors and back of house areas in the basement
• Power-floated concrete- Basement Parking
According to Carin, the following formula was kept in mind when specifying all the finishes, from the ceiling down to the floors:
A productive office space = Thermal Comfort + Ergonomics + Visually Attractive + Flexible Space Planning + Effective Communication and Branding
The client requested that finishes in the offices be durable, anti-static carpets. “All carpets, paints and adhesives with a low VOC content were selected to create an internal environment that is not harmful to the user and to achieve better indoor air quality,” she continues. “From a Design-for-all point of view, scattered mosaics of carpet tiles were spread across the offices to aid way finding. All spaces of the building are categorised according to a colour way-finding system, and even the carpets specified showcase this.”
For the office areas, one of the carpet products supplied by Peter Bates Group and specified by Boogertman + Partners was Grids from Desso’s carpet tile range in a monolithic layout. The Desso Grids green carpet tile range was selected, using the 50 x 50 cm tiles.
The Desso Grids range is space dyedand solutiondyed BCF, PA6 and ECONYL®, which is made from 100% regenerated content. Desso recognises the fact that most people spend 90% of their time indoors, making it imperative to create healthy interiors As a leading global carpet and sport pitches company, Desso believes it is their responsibility to develop products that contribute to a healthier working and living space. In addition, they maintain a relentless focus on their customers at all times as they firmly believe that their success depends on it.
The internal streets of the building are spaces of activity, banter and high traffic and as such require hardwearing floor finishes that promote circulation and informal interaction. Light-coloured engineered stone tiling was specified for these spaces.
According to Carin, lighter areas are more sustainable from a lighting point of view as they reflect light whereas dark finishes tend to absorb light thereby increasing the amount of artificial lighting required and in turn the electrical load of the building. Natural textures such as engineered stones and timbers were also specified in order to bring the elements of nature into the building.
Ablution and Pause Areas
A variety of timber tiles were installed in the ablutions and pause areas to create aesthetic points of interest and warm the spaces. “The reason timber tiles were specified for these spaces was due to their durability and ease of maintenance,” says Carin. “Hardwood or vinyl flooring for these areas was not specified as it was neither water resistant nor easy to maintain.”
Carpets were specified for all the meeting rooms in order to provide for acoustics requirements while adding a dimension of comfort.
All the ministerial suites were carpeted to add a level luxury into these spaces. Accents of greens and light greys were used to accentuate focal points such as the Minister’s desk and meeting room.
“These spaces are of a lower specification than the front-of-house specification to allow for feature tiles and carpets to be specified in critical areas of the building,” explains Carin. “A combination of carpets, porcelain and vinyl tiles were selected according to the room types and function. For example, standard salt and pepper tiles were specified for the fire staircases and vinyl tiles were specified in AV rooms and central archives.”
Composite decking was selected for its wealth of benefits including its resistance to heavy wear and tear and slip-resistance characteristics, while concurrently being easy to maintain and clean. As a result, the decking installed has a significant lifespan that will serve its occupants both effectively and efficiently for several years to come.
All flooring types specified and installed were selected not only for their ability to perform under heavy foot traffic and for their aesthetic appeal, but also because they are considered sustainable products that contribute to an environmentally friendly building that services its occupants and its natural surroundings.