GROUND has broken on SA’s latest four-star green building – the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape.
The modern three-storey office block is located within 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 R6-billion Baywest City development includes 2 000 residential opportunities, office and commercial space, light industry, a private school and 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, include Grahamstown’s National English Literature Museum (5-star) and Port Elizabeth’s NMMU Business School (4-star).
According to Baywest City MD Gavin Blows, the green office block was the first of many more to come for the precinct. Developers are focused on positioning the development as eco-friendly, having set aside 20% 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,” said 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 seen the installation of the country’s largest green-fields fibre-optic network, securing the Baywest City’s future as an interconnected “smart city”, said Blows. Baywest has laid the fibre-optic infrastructure, which Vodacom will use to supply high-speed data.
The new office block will boast a modern façade, with fluid, clean lines and off-shutter concrete. An aluminium façade will mimic the outline of the Port Elizabeth coastline, said architects.
Edward Brooks, director of architects on the project, Activate, said the demand for green-rated buildings had 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,” said Brooks. “It might come with a greater capital outlay of between five and 20%, but one needs to look at the landscape of electricity scarcity and the energy savings the building will make over time.
The office block would boast a 40 kilowatt 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.
The solar system would provide 15% of the building’s energy requirements, said Brooks. Also, as a requirement for the green rating, basement parking would give preference to bicycles, motorcycles and energy-efficient hybrid vehicles. An indigenous landscaped garden around the building would be maintained using the harvested rainwater, said Brooks.
Ann-Mari Malan from AGAMA Energy, a green building consultancy firm, said the sustainability aspects implemented in green building projects have a positive environmental and financial impact.
“Given the high energy costs and water scarcity in South Africa, implementing green building practices sends out a strong message about an organisation’s commitment to sustainability whilst promoting a positive image with stakeholders, customers and employees,” she said.
Blows said the building signalled the roll-out of the greater Baywest City. Similar green rated developments would also roll out in the precinct, he said.
Development on the project comes as Phase Two of the R300-million Baywest road network is about to wrap with a road linking Walker Drive with Cape Road, via 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, said Blows