Sustainable buildings not only benefit the occupants but also achieve a lower cost of occupancy for clients, while at the same time having a positive impact on the environment. Tenants are now much more aware of the benefits of occupying green buildings, which in turn makes leases more attractive. A healthy lifestyle is not only a priority for modern society, but has become a norm rather than a ‘nice to have’ for medium to large corporates in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An example of this trend is the new Exxaro head office in Centurion by leading developer Growthpoint Properties.
“The development manager on the Lakeside project took a very personal approach to achieve Green Star accreditation and wanted the Exxaro building to be a first of its kind. Growthpoint has a strong focus on building sustainable green-rated buildings, with a large emphasis on the health and well-being of its tenants,” explains Kristina Moodley, Associate Quantity Surveyor, Cost Management, Buildings + Places at AECOM.
AECOM was responsible for the structural, civil, geotechnical and quantity surveying (QS) aspects. The iconic project is one of only a handful of buildings in South Africa to boast an As-Built 6 Star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the highest level of sustainability accreditation in the country. It is also the first building in South Africa to achieve Silver Level WELL certification for Core and Shell by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).
The Exxaro head office won the AfriSam Innovation Award for Sustainable Construction at the Construction World Best Projects Awards 2019 and was Highly Commended in the Consulting Engineering Category. It also won in the Projects Greater Than R250 million category at the 2012 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards.
AECOM was actively involved in assisting the green consultant with its budget calculations on the different points strategies required to result in achieving 4, 5 and 6 Star Green Star and WELL ratings respectively.
“We are hands-on, constantly managing, monitoring and aligning the construction costs against the budget when implementing Green Star specific initiatives via the main contract and report to the client on a monthly basis,” elaborates Moodley.
The premier consulting firm was also part of the Green Star submission process and had to provide QS reports that evaluated and quantified the data used by the GBCSA to ultimately assess the building’s compliance against Green Star point targets.
“From a QS perspective, our experience with green buildings positioned us well in bid submissions, which now expressly call for previous Green Star project exposure as a prequalification criterion. We have successfully built up a substantial portfolio, having had the opportunity to execute projects for esteemed clients such as Growthpoint, Abland and Eris Properties, to name but a few. This has strengthened our already prominent footprint in the QS field. The exposure has given us undeniable and invaluable knowledge to financially manage the most complex of projects successfully,” comments Moodley.
The AECOM team was pivotal in unlocking the project, providing a financial blueprint which balanced the Class 8 dolomitic ground conditions together with various site constraints, market rentals and client aspirations in terms of ‘green’ accreditations and return on investment, enabling the team to deliver a cost-effective, world-class project. Sustainable practices that were incorporated included stormwater attenuation and filtration.
A rainwater system collects water and feeds it into the stormwater filtration system. This water is recycled and re-used by the building for irrigation and sanitary flushing. Leak detection is incorporated in all systems involving the flow of water, such as soil drainage, water supply and stormwater attenuation. These detection methods link back to the Building Management System (BMS), which alerts facilities management of any leaks that may occur, thereby saving on water consumption while complying with dolomitic restrictions.
Looking at the impact of Covid-19 on the property development sector, Moodley points out that large corporates still require expansive office space. However, those who have adapted to working remotely will follow the trend of smaller hot desk workspace setups. AECOM’s QS offering, in particular, specialises in commercial fit-outs.
“AECOM quantity surveyors have the expertise, knowledge and proven track record in unlocking developments for clients across the various commercial, residential, industrial and infrastructure sectors. We pride ourselves in working closely with our clients in making their vision a reality,” concludes Moodley.