The Green Building Council moves into a new and ‘greener’ office space

The Green Building Council SA (GBCSA) has taken up residence at its inspired new green office at the Blackriver Park complex in Observatory, Cape Town.

Growing up fast

As the commercial property industry in South Africa embraces sustainability, so the GBCSA’s capacity and reach has expanded to the point where they outgrew their office space.

The GBCSA has grown from a small start up to a fully-fledged mainstream operator, emphasised GBCSA CEO Brian Wilkinson. “From just one rating tool and one certification in 2008, to four rating tools with another two in development, and almost 40 certified projects today. Close to 5 000 professionals have attended our training programs, almost 500 professionals are Green Star SA Accredited, and 1100 corporates have joined as members, showing an incredible commitment by corporate SA to sustainability in the built environment.”

Designing a blank canvass

The GBCSA relished the opportunity to walk their talk, and design a space that will resonate their green building values and principles.

The new open-plan office has been designed to accommodate the future growth expected at the council, and embraces the GBCSA’s increasingly flexible, collaborative, and shared approach to office space and the work environment. Besides the tangible sustainable interventions, the GBCSA have also instituted a ‘hot-desking’ system which supports flexibility, team integration and maximizes space.  Staff are also encouraged to use alternative and public transport and not to use their own cars to come to work by having less company-rented parking bays available, than staff employed.

Sharing space

As one of the founding sponsors, the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) enjoys a close collaborative relationship with the GBCSA.  The Cape Town based SAPOA representative will be based in the GBCSA’s new offices going forward.

Neil Gopal, CEO of SAPOA, says: “Both SAPOA and GBCSA are committed to advancing the property sector in South Africa and delivering value to members that encourages a quality, sustainable urban environment. We’re pleased to share office space with people who also share our thinking space and look forward to the positive impact of our growing collaboration.”

Targeting a possible first green office rating

The GBCSA also aims to get the new office certified under the Green Star SA Commercial Interiors rating tool, which will be released at the GBCSA’s Green Building Convention in Cape Town, on October 16-18, 2013.

The retrofit of the new office meant that the GBCSA could walk the talk, and ensure sustainability at every turn. The site was chosen because it is a re-used old warehouse building, and Blackriver Park prioritizes efficiency and recycling. It is close to public transport nodes, as well as having great amenities within the office park, and more within walking distance. Blackriver Park has also installed the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic installation in South Africa, which will provide 1.2 MW of renewable energy, once complete.

The professional team involved in the office retrofit did extensive performance modelling to see where interventions could be made to boost green building characteristics, and the final design made significant sustainability improvements. When it came to furniture, products and equipment required for the new office, products meeting sustainability criteria were specified and installed.

A generous sponsor community

As a non-profit, member driven organisation, the GBCSA was committed to achieving the highest green credentials at the lowest cost, and was able to achieve this through sponsorship from their member community and suppliers of sustainable products and services.  A total of 38 sponsors came on board in a short space of time to achieve a very ambitious goal. “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of sponsors, and the products and services that have been made available to us. It is a great recognition of what we do,” said GBCSA Education Manager& resident architect Donné Putter

Open day for members and tenants

To celebrate World Green Building Week (16 – 20 September), underpinned by the theme: ‘Greener Buildings, Better Places, Healthier People’, Cape Town members and Blackriver Park tenants will be invited to an open day at the GBCSA’s new offices which will include an insightful presentation by the project team.  The GBCSA aim to host regular office tours in the new year and to use the premises as a living showcase of healthy and productive office space.

“I’m looking forward to celebrating the generosity of the fantastic sponsors, and welcoming members to visit us in our new space, which highlights green building principles and practices, and allows us to walk the green talk,” concluded Wilkinson.

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