Renovated property - 'green' office space in Sandton

The renovated Eastgate 20 office building in Sandton recently achieved a 4 Star Green Star SA from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

An exterior view of the renovated building.

The reuse of the existing building avoided the construction of large amounts of building structure - which meant considerable waste reduction. The project involved demolishing the existing roof, the second floor and half of the first floor slab.

Following the reconstruction of the first floor slab, an additional three floors were developed along with roof slabs to accommodate the building's contemporary office and conference facilities. The office building has four levels of parking and four levels of office space, which can house approximately 340 people.

The renovated lobby.

"Green Star SA rates buildings on eight environmental categories, including energy, water, materials and emissions. The tool sets out specific environmental initiatives or targets (credits) in each category, and buildings are awarded points for each credit they comply with. The total points will determine the building's Green Star SA rating - either four, five or six star," explains Manfred Braune, GBCSA's Technical Executive.

"Energy is a major focus, and as such, points earned in this category carry significant weight in the Green Star SA certification. Projects are rewarded for reducing their energy consumption, with maximum points being rewarded for a 100% reduction in energy use," notes Braune.

"But there are a wide number of other initiatives that go into a rating. Some of those at Eastgate included; increased fresh air and natural light, significantly reduced water consumption and the use of recycled materials."

More than 60 percent of the office area has natural daylight, providing levels sufficient enough to allow the electric lights to be turned off during the day. Over 60 percent of the office areas have views to the outside, reducing occupant eye strain by providing distant objects to focus on.

PJ Carew Consulting conducted extensive computerised daylight modelling to predict and optimise the levels of daylight achieved, without producing undesirable glare from direct sun. The impact of glare is minimised by external louvres on the north-west façade, deep set window openings on the north-east and south-west facades and performance glass to control the amount of light entry on the south-east façade. Blinds in select tenant areas will eliminate any remaining glare.

For improved air quality, the mechanical ventilation system at Eastgate provides 15 litres per second per person of fresh air, which is a 150% improvement on the Green Star SA green building baseline. Finally, low-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants are used inside the building, minimising the amount of chemicals that become airborne from the interior finishes to be potentially breathed in by occupants.

The building scored well in Green Star SA's 'Water' category. Water efficient fittings have been installed throughout the building and are projected to save 35% in Johannesburg potable water consumption. (Water meters are installed on the incoming mains supply, on the shower supply and on the irrigation supply, to enable the building management to detect and correct any abnormal usage and to manage water consumption more effectively.)

Hot water for hand washing is provided from solar water heaters and on the treatment side, a stormwater treatment system has been installed into the existing storm water piping. Previously, the storm water had flowed directly into a neighbouring river, but now the water is first treated to remove pollutants and sediment.

Green Star SA seeks to influence transport patterns by encouraging alternative forms of transport other than cars. The Eastgate building is conveniently located on a Gautrain bus feeder line, which connects to Sandton station where multiple other buses, as well as the Gautrain depart. The building also encourages alternatives to single passenger car commuting by providing preferred parking spaces for electric and alternative fuel cars and for motorbikes. In addition, extensive bicycle parking is provided for both building occupants and visitors, with separate men's and women's locker rooms featuring showers.

Eastgate scored highest in the Green Star SA Energy Category and the building is projected to save approximately 40 percent of the electrical energy usage of a similar building built to the requirements of SANS 204:2008 guide for energy efficient buildings. This saving is achieved mainly through the efficient cooling systems and lighting systems.

Not only have efficient fluorescent fittings been specified and their layout optimised to decrease the number of fittings, but the light switching has also been designed to save energy with master switches provided at each tenancy entrance allow for easy switching off of all lights when exiting in the evening. Fittings have been grouped together into zones so that lights can be switched off in unoccupied areas or areas that have sufficient daylight. In addition, the design of the custom lobby ceiling fittings, was conducted to specifically prevent light pollution, by preventing direct light from the bulbs from escaping the building into the night sky.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of GBCSA, says, "Buildings such as Eastgate are setting the bar for the industry and proving that it is possible to reinvent our aging building stock in SA. In overseas markets such as Australia and Europe, it is becoming too risky commercially to develop buildings that are not green and we are very pleased that the South African market is rapidly following suit. The GBCSA wishes to congratulate the developers on this innovative project that took an older building and turned it into a showpiece of sustainable design."

(Green Building Council of South Africa Press Release)

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