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SA's first Green Star-rated retrofitted building

Published at: 7 December 2015

Johannesburg is now home to the first six-star Green Star rated retrofitted building in the country, setting the benchmark for sustainability in the inner-city.

In Braamfontein, the centre of Johannesburg's congested urban traffic, a newly completed hub of sustainability has emerged as the most sustainable retrofitted building in the country. The new South African home of the World Wildlife Fund has just been awarded a six-star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), a first for a retrofitted structure.

“We did not build our new office, we reconstructed it. We re-used and recycled everything that we could possibly salvage from this old structure. The WWF Braamfontein building ultimately disproves the notion that green buildings are expensive,” says Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO for WWF-SA. Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, says the affordability could make it a reality for other buildings still in two minds about making the change.

“As a non-profit, WWF’s project team had to be aware of both budgets and time frames, but still managed to get this impressive 6-star rating which serves as an example to all building projects who are still debating going green” Du Plessis said at the WWF-SA’s 47th Annual General Meeting, hosted at the 655m² site of WWF’s three-storey Johannesburg offices.

The green building methods include the re-use of 80% of the original building materials in the re-design as well as natural ventilation, a closed water recycling system, light-sensitive blinds, various insulation solutions and an indigenous rooftop garden with water-efficient plants that are watered by rainwater.

Some of the simple features of WWF-SA’s green building:

Energy: No artificial cooling capacity exists in the building, with both natural ventilation and forced mechanical ventilation used, as well as sufficient natural light pouring in to reduce energy consumption. The interior is also not covered with tiles, paint or plastering in order to thermally activate the building and allow it to ‘breathe’.

Water: To reduce the building’s water footprint, features were introduced to curb the reliance on both municipal water and electricity. Water use is reduced through on-site treatment of effluent and this treated water is then re-used in the building.

Waste: By using waste recycling storage areas – with bins available for paper, glass, plastics and general waste on each floor – recycling is strongly encouraged so as to reduce the waste going to landfill.

Transport: As transport is a big contributor to greenhouse gasses, the location was strategically chosen to be close to public transport such as the Gautrain Park Station. Staff are also encouraged to carpool and use WWF’s low-emission pool cars to get around.

Project architect Simon Cretney says, "The whole idea behind constructing the building the way we did – with raw concrete and raw brickwork and re-using as much as we could – was to work as sustainably as possible. By doing that, WWF would be able to show that they are walking the walk, and talking the talk.”


To read more about this inspiring building http://www.wwf.org.za/?15601/Braamfontein-six-star-green-status

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