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Entrenched player furthers green building

EVERGREEN AfriSam has sponsored a number of awards to recognise notable achievements and work in sustainable building
VAN DEN BERG It will take a collaborate effort from everybody involved in the building industry to make sure that sustainable practices become a part of everybody’s DNA

Leading construction materials company AfriSam believes that it is important for all industry role-players to play an active role in furthering green sustainability initiatives in the built environment, and the company is pursuing this through partnerships and relationships with stakeholders, says AfriSam group marketing manager Ebeth van den Berg.

Continuing in this vein, AfriSam has sponsored a number of awards to recognise notable achievements and work in sustainable building. One such award is the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and Innovation (AfriSam-SAIA), of which AfriSam is a founder and core sponsor. This “prestigious” biennial award is currently in its fifth round.

The award comprises different categories, seeking to identify projects, people and teams that are doing their part for the environment. The three main criteria that entries must demonstrate are ‘Regeneration, Reconciliation and Restoration’.

“This award gives us the platform to show that we, as a company, are also responsible for sustainable building, and that we take this very seriously.”

Van den Berg enthuses that the AfriSam-SAIA award has received a record number of entries this year, with the judges currently conducting final site inspections. The ceremony to honour the awarded and commended projects will be held in October.

Van den Berg says the award is evidence that the public is becoming more green building conscious, as there has been a large number of entries from the residential space, as opposed to receiving entries from only commercial buildings and projects.

Moreover, in previous years, one of the houses that won an award was the ‘Gorgeous Green House’, in KwaZulu-Natal, a project driven by the homeowner, who sourced the relevant green materials herself and directed her architect and builders specifically on the environmental requirements for the house.

Another award that AfriSam is involved in is the Construction World Best Project Award. AfriSam sponsors the sustainability category for this award. This award is held annually at the end of the year, and identifies contractors with the best green project.

Lastly, for the first time this year, AfriSam also sponsors the biodiversity category for the annual Enviropaedia Eco-Logic Award. Van den Berg indicates that this biodiversity category recognises individuals and organisations doing notable work in protecting biodiversity, making the company’s sponsorship a “natural fit”, owing to its biodiversity efforts and rehabilitation work at its quarries. The award ceremony takes place on June 5, corresponding with World Environmental Day.

Leading Environmental Stewardship

AfriSam boasts a long legacy in green building, having been active in green projects since 1996. Van den Berg explains that this forms part of the company’s focus on the environment, with this being ingrained in the company and an integral part of its values.

AfriSam’s environmental focus preceded legislation in 1996, with the company putting together its own environmental policy as early as 1994. The company was also the first to measure its carbon footprint at all its operations and to display its carbon footprint on all its bagged cement products. This continues to this day, with measurements updated yearly.

The company boasts a large team of technical experts that can assist in green building across the industry, advising contractors, architects and designers.

Van den Berg indicates that, wherever there is opportunity to use a more sustainable product, AfriSam’s technical consultant will advise such product, while considering the specific project requirements. AfriSam can also tailor-make cement and concrete solutions for green building requirements.

In 2000, AfriSam launched Eco Building Cement to reduce its carbon footprint. The company uses slag as an extender when manufacturing cement. Slag, a by-product from the steel manufacturing process, has similar properties to limestone, making it an ideal solution.

While the use of this extender substantially reduces the carbon footprint in production, it allows for the same level of strength; therefore, the concrete is not compromised. Moreover, there is an added benefit of less waste, as the slag is used for something useful instead of being discarded.

AfriSam was also the first company of its kind in Southern Africa to install plant equipment to reduce emissions. For example, at its Ulco operation, close to Kimberley, in the Northern Cape, the company installed baghouse filter technology.

The company has also supplied cement and concrete solutions to several Green Star-rated buildings, most recently, the Alice Lane and Alexander Forbes buildings – both in Sandton, and both four-star rated.

Other elements of the company’s environmental protection focus are the rehabilitation of limestone quarrying sites, and the implementation of biodiversity programmes to ensure that, when the company closes a site, it is in a position to rehabilitate it.

Further, the company is conducting ongoing research to ensure that the fauna and flora of a specific area are protected, especially if these are endangered and/or protected by law.

“It will take a collaborate effort from everybody involved in the building industry to make sure that sustainable practices become a part of everybody’s DNA, as is the case with AfriSam,” concludes Van den Berg.