SA’s greenest student residence nears completion

Stellenbosch University’s R43 million Tygerberg campus residence, which is being built by STAG African, makes use of light steel frame building and incorporates energy-saving features such as LED lighting and heat pumps.

Using innovative building technology and optimal architectural design, Stellenbosch University’s new 208-bed student residence, which is under construction, will help address the major accommodation shortage at the university, says Pieter Kloppers, the director of student communities at the university.

The R43 million Tygerberg campus residence, which is being built by student accommodation group, STAG African, will make use of light steel frame building and incorporate energy-saving features such as LED lighting and heat pumps, so the building will use 50 percent less electricity than a standard building.

“The residence is due for completion in November 2015, and has set its sights on being the greenest residence in Africa. Sustainability and innovation are at the forefront of our green agenda – more than being a key focus for the university, our students expect it,” says Kloppers.

“Based on the success of Ubuntu House, our first green residence developed by STAG African, we look forward to the completion of the new residence, which will go a long way in addressing the accommodation shortage at our Tygerberg medical campus.”

“By focusing on the students, STAG African has pioneered a cost effective, green alternative to building. We wanted an optimal architectural design that ensured every square metre of the building was designed specifically for the needs of the student,” says STAG managing director, John Schooling.

“Campuses are expanding, taking on more students and adding new departments, but the one area of university life that is lagging is the issue of student accommodation. Building student accommodation is very expensive – the national norm is around R280 000 a bed – and for a lot of universities, that’s unaffordable. We looked around for a building method that we could apply to the South African context and discovered a substantially cheaper solution to bricks and mortar, a system that is much better.

“Used in the building of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the old and new World Trade Centres, innovative building technology has been widely used in many developed countries. It reduces carbon footprint, and dramatically reduces the cost and time taken to construct buildings.

“Using this technology, we can reduce building time by 40 percent and decrease the associated costs dramatically. For universities, where cost ultimately is the deciding factor, it’s an obvious choice. It also addresses the students’ need for a green living environment,” Schooling says.

“Accommodation for students is more than providing a place to sleep. It’s important to create communities in a listening, learning and living environment. This is crucial to the success of the housing facilities provided by the university,” Kloppers says. “Student housing, over and above providing a place to sleep, creates a sense of belonging; for many, it’s where real integration and camaraderie takes place – its importance cannot not be underestimated.”

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