DEA head office receives six-star rating from Green Building Council

19th July 2013 By: Joanne Taylor

The new Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) head office, in Pretoria, has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star South Africa (SA) Office Design certificate by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

It is the first government building in South Africa to achieve a 6 Star Green Star SA rating and also the first 6 Star-rated green building in the City of Tshwane. The project was awarded the highest score for a large commercial office space of this magnitude by the GBCSA.

The DEA is demonstrating its commitment to market transformation in the built environment of South Africa. “This is an exceptional illustration of the public and the private sector working together to deliver an out- standing example of green building,” says GBCSA CEO Brian Wilkinson.

The certification signifies leadership from the DEA in green building and shows its dedication to sustainable design by all its stakeholders in this sizeable public–private partnership (PPP) project.

“The building has specific targets for energy and water efficiency and an industry-first, sophisticated energy-consumption mechanism that has never been implemented in any other project in the construction sector. It also uses renewable energy and a unique facilities management system that [includes] a rigorous penalty regime to reward operational efficiency and penalise poor performance,” comments Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Contractual Obligations

A significant benefit of this PPP structure is that contractual obligations for all participants ensured that all costs, timelines and green specifications were clearly outlined and successfully met during design and construction.

The PPP structure will also ensure that the building is operated optimally over the next 25 years so that it stays green throughout its life span and achieves the environmental and resource savings envisaged at the outset.

“Through this building, we will set an example for other organisations, which will, of course, benefit the environment and future generations,” says Molewa.

Once construction is complete and the building is occu- pied, the DEA head office will also submit documentation for its ‘As-built’ Green Star SA rating, which ensures that the original intentions in the design phase have been adhered to.

The project used three- dimensional building modelling extensively upfront, enabling the professional team to identify and resolve potential issues before they emerged and to improve integration and coordination.

Energy Consumption
The project brief specified that energy consumption in the building should not exceed 115kWh/m2 a year, which was a goal that required optimal building orientation from the start and intense modelling and efficiencies.

The roof of the building is almost entirely covered with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and will supply almost 20% of the building’s energy needs.

The northern parking area hosts a large concentrated PV system, which tracks the sun during the day and supplies power to the electric vehicle (EV) charging station for the DEA’s EV pilot project.

The building has also been designed to consume 30% less water through several water- saving devices installed throughout the building, such as a rainwater harvesting system and water-wise indigenous plants for landscaping with efficient irrigation systems.

The landscaped entrance includes a vertical green wall, roof gardens and a wetland component facilitating storm- water runoff. A natural veld component surrounds the parking and building areas.

Green buildings represent responsible investment and reduced liability. The finan- cial benefits of green buildings are realised through savings on energy and water over the long term.

They could, importantly, also play a role in increasing productivity in the workplace, and in the greater attraction and retention of valuable skills, concluded Molewa.