South Africa’s first green skyscraper on schedule

Cape Town’s new Portside building is well on schedule to become South Africa’s (and perhaps even the African continent’s) first green tall building, as green building principles are being incorporated at every level of construction of this 32-floor building.

The R1.6 billion project occupying the city block between Buitengracht, Hans Strijdom, Bree and Mechau streets is a joint initiative between Old Mutual and FirstRand Bank. The site was bought by Old Mutual Property in two transactions nearly 20 years apart. First the Brian Porter property in Bree Street was bought on a sale and leaseback basis in the mid-1980s, and the rest of the block was bought from the City of Cape Town in 2007.

In addition to AAA grade office space, Portside will have 1 200m² of banking and retail area with easy access from all sides on the ground level. All floors have spectacular all-round views as the tower sits on top of a parking podium for 1 382 cars.

“Work began in August 2011, and the City of Cape Town has supported the project by adopting a phased approval process in an attempt to facilitate the rapid development of the site,” says Brent Wiltshire, property development executive at Old Mutual Property.

“All the final approvals are now in place, so it’s ‘full steam ahead’ and we are on schedule for completion of the building in March 2014.

“A building of this scale has a far-reaching impact on employment creation and the ongoing revival and growth of Cape Town’s CBD. Portside will be Cape Town’s tallest building, and we have incorporated environmental considerations in the design, construction and future management of the building. Our aim is to achieve a Green Star SA Office rating for the design and construction (as built rating) of the building, confirming Portside as one of the most sustainable buildings in South Africa, and certainly the first high-rise to achieve this,” says Wiltshire.

“Half of the 50 000m2 building is set to house about 2 000 employees across First Rand, FNB, RMB and Wesbank’s provincial headquarters. The remaining 25 000m2 of AAA premium-grade office space will be available for leasing through Old Mutual Property,” says Stephan Claassen, provincial head of FNB.

The Green Star SA rating system incorporates measurable environmental initiatives such as management, indoor environmental quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, and emissions. In conjunction with the architects, dhk and Louis Karol, the developers have ensured that Portside creates an exceptionally healthy working environment, while implementing sustainable principles from construction through to property management.

An environmental management plan (EMP) covering all construction activities has been devised for the project. This includes a waste management plan that ensures 70 percent of all construction waste is either reused or recycled. In addition, the building façade is designed to be disassembled and re-erected on another site if Portside is altered in future.
Claassen and Wiltshire say it is very important to FirstRand and Old Mutual to invest in green projects, for the city and the environment, and to create a green working environment for staff and tenants.

Building and creating a healthier work environment for Portside’s future tenants will include providing 150 percent more fresh air than stipulated standards. All office space, housed from the 10th floor upwards, has uninterrupted views and maximising the views will provide natural day lighting and a more stimulating, appealing work environment

In addition, Portside will provide secure racks for 260 bicycles, as well as shower and locker facilities. Various studies have shown that green building can lead to reduced sick leave and increased productivity, while making it easier to recruit and retain employees – all of which can have a positive effect on a business’s bottom line.

Wiltshire says Portside tenants can expect to pay 30 percent less for electricity than in a conventional building, as green energy innovations include greater use of natural light and a lighting system that incorporates light and movement sensors. Grey water will be captured and filtered from showers and hand basins and used in the toilets along with harvested rainwater. All of these combined green design features of Portside will make it one of the cleanest, healthiest urban working environments in Cape Town.

(SA Property News)

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