Multidisciplinary engineering consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff has achieved the first Green Star rating in Namibia for FNB Namibia Holdings’ Parkside building.
Located in Freedom Square, Windhoek, the Parkside building achieved a 4-Star Green Star rating and with its innovative, environment-friendly design, and sustainable operational energy management, the building sets a benchmark for building sustainably in the country for the future.
The construction of the building started in August 2013, with the building’s practical completion achieved in October 2015.
WSP enthuses that the building was awarded its 4-Star Green Star Office South Africa-Namibia ‘Design’ rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) in 2014.
Since its completion and being fully operational, the project is now aiming towards an ‘As Built’ rating by demonstrating that the sustainability initiatives designed into the building are installed and operating to their full efficiency potential.
“As market leading sustainability consultants, WSP’s Green by Design team has been involved with this project from conceptualisation through every phase of design and construction. This included consulting with the project team on sustainability and Green Star requirements, and now reviewing the operations of the building for the ‘As Built’ rating submission,” the company enthuses.
“There are a variety of innovative and sustainable factors evident in the morphology of the building that have all contributed to this building receiving its Green Star rating.
“We are also confident that the building will receive its ‘As Built’ rating, as the initial energy modelling has already shown a 40% reduction in operational energy, compared with a building constructed according to minimum building regulations,” says WSP sustainability consultant Greg Rice, adding that this saving amounts to an estimated 1-million kilowatt per hour reduction per year in operational energy.
WSP further mentions that the innovative and sustainable features of this building include the sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that allows vast amounts of fresh outside air into the building in order to reduce the build-up of indoor pollutants.
“Occupants experience a high level of thermal comfort as a result of the materials selected for the outer skin of the building and the air conditioning system. The building also contains dedicated exhausts to extract printing and photocopy pollutants, which have an effect on internal air quality.”
Another feature of this building is the combination of water fixtures and fittings which are installed for low flow. The design of the roof and podium levels also allows for rainwater harvesting, for reuse within the building.
“With recycling of the grey water collection and a magnificent advanced filtration system, the building has been designed to surpass the water efficiency benchmark as set by the GBCSA,” WSP adds, noting that the water system is a response to the water-scarce context.
The company further enthuses that the project comes complete with a full smart building management system (BMS), which has the ability to identify energy-use trends and monitor any anomalies.
“The BMS will notify the building manager of any irregularities in terms of power consumption, ensuring that appropriate remedial actions can be initiated if necessary.”
However, Rice admits that this journey has not been without challenges: “Being the first Green Star-rated building in Namibia, the principles of Green Star were new to the context and contractors. In addition, working remotely across borders, dealing with obtaining work permits, paying import duties, delays at customs and, overall, keeping up to speed with the site activities makes the going more complex.”
He further explains that, while these were crucial challenges to the success of the project, overcoming them also offered an important knowledge sharing opportunity that was led by regular teleconferencing and various site visits during the construction phase.
Each site visit also included an evaluation of Green Star requirements that assisted in growing the knowledge base for the heavy documentation process.
“Throughout this project, we also placed significant focus on relaying the importance of future-proofing the building, for instance, by installing and/or designing initiatives that are likely to be able to account for unknown future energy, water, waste management, environmental and societal changes,” says Rice, adding that incorporating such initiatives ensures that the design and development of a building is innovatively smart, ergonomic and more sustainable.