Welcome to the Green House
This entry was posted on March 15, 2013.
Walk the Talk
Here at Sustainable, we believe in practising what you preach. That’s why we work in a building that’s been specially designed and constructed with environmentally-sound principles in mind. From the materials to the finishing touches, everything was carefully selected in order to create a commercially viable green building.
What Materials Were Used?
The bricks used in the construction of the Green Building were sourced from Cape Brick, whose products contain around 70% recycled material. Demolition waste is sent to the company’s crushing facility, and produces what is known as Recycled Crushed Aggregate. This becomes the main ingredient in all the brick products that Cape Brick manufactures. In addition, the paving in the parking lot consists of porous brick and wood chippings, allowing excess water to soak back into underground aquifers.
Inside the building, recycled timber was used for the flooring and stairway. Meanwhile, the windows and doors were sourced from school construction waste at a demolition yard. Stone was utilized in the walls and stairs, tree trunks were used for landscaping purposes, and branches and leaves were chipped for garden mulch.
Walls were painted with BreatheCoat– this paint is lead and solvent free, and creates a porous layer that allows water vapour to pass through instead of forming bubbles as with traditional paint. EnviroTouch wood sealant was utilized on the timber, as it is made entirely from natural ingredients, and does not contain any environmental/health damaging chemicals.
The Green Building was constructed at a 20 degree angle, east of north, in order to maximize the amount of natural lighting. Each office has plenty of large clerestory windows (above eye level), and the upstairs level contains skylights. Indoor electric lighting is hardly ever needed, except on the darkest, stormiest winter days.
A solar water heater provides the building with hot water, whilst solar panels on the roof generate renewable energy that is fed directly into the City’s power grid. A photovoltaic pump is used to power the water fountain.
With the addition of cavity walls and excellent ceiling insulation, the building is able to regulate its own temperature without the need for an air-conditioning or central heating system. An underfloor piping system flushes cool night air through the building to replace the heat generated during the day. Plenty of ventilation is provided via the aforementioned windows, which negates the need for fans. Specially-positioned shading blocks out the harsh summer sun.
We’re also Water-Wise
Water efficiency is a fundamental component of the building. The three rainwater tanks can hold up to 6kl, and grey water is recycled on site and used in the garden. The garden itself is water-wise, containing only indigenous plants that do not require much irrigation. The plumbing features help reduce water wastage, with multi-flush toilet cisterns and low-flow taps.
Waste Not, Want Not
Sustainable, and the Green Building as a whole, embodies the principles of environmental responsibility in our everyday business practices. There are separate bins for glass, paper and plastic, which are then recycled. Tenants are encouraged to switch off bathroom lights, computers and other office equipment when not in use. The building also promotes a carpooling system, or even biking to work.
The initial investment paid off, and the Green Building now uses just 5% of the average office electricity usage, which is 600 kWh/m2/year. Overall, around 50% of the building consists of recycled material. It also won the 2004 Cape Times Caltex Environmental Award for outstanding achievement in environmental conservation. Sustainable.co.za has been in the building since its completion, and to this day, we continue to implement green changes wherever possible. We challenge you to do the same.