New four-star green office block at Baywest City signals a first for the Eastern Cape

Going Green: Artist’s impression of the first green rated office block to be built in the Eastern Cape.

Ground has broken on South Africa’s latest four star green building – the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape.

The modern three-storey office block is in the Baywest City precinct in Port Elizabeth’s western suburbs, along the N2, and signals the greater roll-out of development at Baywest City following the opening of the project catalyst, the R1.7 billion Baywest Mall, in May.

Phase one of the R6bn Baywest City development includes 2 000 residential opportunities, office and commercial space, light industry, a private school, a hospital and a hotel.

The building, which is due to open towards the end of 2016, is the first green rated commercial office block for the Eastern Cape. The only other green rated projects in the province, classified as public and education buildings by the Green Building Council, includes Grahamstown’s National English Literature Museum with five stars, and Port Elizabeth’s NMMU Business School, a four star Green Star building.

According to Baywest City managing director, Gavin Blows, the green office block is the first of many more to come for the precinct. Developers are focused on positioning the development as eco-friendly, having set aside 20 percent of the 320ha Baywest City site for the protection of rare and indigenous fauna and flora.

“There is immense interest in developments of this calibre,” says Blows. “Port Elizabeth has nowhere else to grow but into the western suburbs, which is why Baywest City is ideally located for the future of the city.

“A landmark deal between Baywest and Vodacom has resulted in the installation of the country’s largest green-fields fibre-optic network, securing the Baywest City’s future as an interconnected “smart city”. Baywest has laid the fibre-optic infrastructure, which Vodacom will use to supply high-speed data.”

The new office block will have a modern façade, with fluid, clean lines and off-shutter concrete. An aluminium façade will mimic the outline of the Port Elizabeth coastline, according to the architects.

Edward Brooks, director of architects on the project, Activate, says the demand for green rated buildings has grown globally.

“These sorts of developments are generally more pleasant to work in, and tend to attract higher end tenants. Demand has grown among the high business user category,” says Brooks. “It might come with a greater capital outlay of between five and 20 percent, but you need to look at the landscape of electricity scarcity and the energy savings the building will make over time.”

The office block will have a 40 kW roof mounted solar photovoltaic system, a rainwater harvesting system, and highly insulated walls, roofing and flooring to maintain a moderate internal temperature in spite of fluctuating external temperatures.

Brooks says the solar system will provide 15 percent of the building’s energy requirements. Also, as a requirement for the green rating, basement parking will give preference to bicycles, motorcycles and energy-efficient hybrid vehicles. An indigenous landscaped garden around the building will be maintained using the harvested rainwater.

Ann-Mari Malan of AGAMA Energy, a green building consultancy firm, says the sustainability aspects implemented in green building projects have a positive environmental and financial impact.

“Given the high energy costs and water scarcity in SA, implementing green building practices sends out a strong message about an organisation’s commitment to sustainability wile promoting a positive image among stakeholders, customers and employees,” she says.

Blows says the building signals the roll-out of the greater Baywest City. Similar green rated developments will also be built in the precinct.

Development on the project comes as phase two of the R300 million Baywest road network is about to wrap up with a road linking Port Elizabeth’s Walker Drive with Cape Road, by means of a new bridge over the N2. The second phase of the road network will open next month, further unlocking economic growth potential in the western suburbs, says Blows.

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