SA Construction - Corobrik proud to be part of the first fully constructed municipal building to achieve 4 Green Star rating

The City of Cape Town Human Settlement Contact Office in Manenberg has recently been awarded a 4 Star Green Star SA rating; the first fully constructed local municipal building in South Africa to achieve a rating.

The building, designed by Ashley Hemraj with Goodhope Construction as the main contractors, is situated on Landsdowne Road in Manenberg and is used by the local community as a space to make enquiries regarding the housing data base, paying their municipal accounts, traffic fines etc. It was completed in April 2012, with the Green Star rating granted in early August.

When embarking on the project, Hemraj had no guidelines regarding what was required in order to obtain a Green Star rating for a municipal building and had to use information available from other sources. However the final results are a demonstration of Cape Town’s local municipality’s commitment to sustainable development and its green goals.

Hemraj notes that, whilst been environmentally responsible the selection of the site, the position of the building and the involvement of the local community were of great importance. The local community were involved in the mosaic work throughout the building. Members of the community worked with a lead artist to produce the images, while the hanging artwork adorning the public hall space was sourced from a local artist. From a construction point of view, local workers were employed to construct some of the walls using sandbags. “We trained them on site in the sandbag technology, which involved filling, laying and then plastering the bags as well as the assembly of the ‘Eco Beams’,” explains Hemraj, adding that, “Using the local community has resulted in 20% of the labour on site being local when normally it is less than 10%.”

Other artworks around the building where ‘Graffiti’ works from the community. We involved “Falko” a self-taught Cape Town based artist who is doing his best to get the youth off the street and involved in art that could inspire and change lives.

Born in Mitchells Plain and schooled in Westridge Senior, we involved him on our project as a Small Enterprise. He then engaged 3 schools, of which he trained 10 grade 5 and 6 pupils in the art form, whilst creating the public artwork on the Maneneberg project.

“I am doing my best to make street art viable for up-coming new talent”.

“The artwork on Manenberg represents the youth of the area and essentially what dreams are meant to become, a message of hope and aspiration in the self” Falko

“In this way we have involved the local community and taught the learners a new skill. We believe that buildings must relate to the community, after all, it’s a community building for the community and in this way the community can and must take ownership of their own structures, and their spaces,” says Hemraj.

The choices of materials were critical on this project, understanding the materials embodied energy in its creation as well as its relation to the site. Many different materials were used in the construction of the building. Along with the aforementioned sandbag construction, FSC timber, reused steel, as well as clay face bricks, chosen for its ecological efficient properties. “We selected the Corobrik De Hoop Satin brick which is made nearby at the De Hoop factory, an advantage when aiming for a Green Star rating. Hemraj says that it’s important that our public buildings stand out from the surrounding buildings and become land marks, beacons within the communities, it’s important that our buildings have a civic presence to them, a stature that speaks of the community and reflects their past, present and individuality. In this case the red brick offered  us a unique way in which to identifies the municipal building in an aesthetically pleasing and contemporary way and still do it in an environmental responsibly way.

We are hoping that further buildings in the civic precinct will now follow suit with locally sourced materials like the Corobrik’s De Hoop Red facebrick.  Flooring in the building sees a variety of finishes, including eco-friendly carpets, polished concrete and wood. “We have a nice balance in the building with many different materials so that no one material dominates.”

From a sustainable perspective, minimizing our water footprint was the number one priority in the building, especially considering that future water restrictions are eminent in South Africa. Water collected on the roof is used to flush toilets, while elsewhere freshwater is used only for drinking – the rest is treated and reused, such as the water needs of the garden which is irrigated with a drip irrigation system using recycled water from our on-site black-water treatment system. Further sustainable initiatives see solar panels supplying 30 to 40% of energy consumed by the building, while the amount of concrete used in the construction was reduced (and where it was used, fly ash was introduced to reduce the CO2 count).

“A 4 Green Star building breaks even on cost/investment, with significant long-term benefits,” says Hemraj. We predict that we are saving an estimated R44 000-R48 000 per year in electricity at the City of Cape Town Housing Contact Office. That means that at today’s electricity costs we will have a payback for the renewable energy component in just 4-5 years. Further to the solar power, a wind turbine supplements electricity on cloudy or rainy days. The electricity is stored in batteries and can run the building, for an estimated three days.

Yet he believes that it’s not just all about the construction materials. “The social and economic elements are starting to become an important element of green buildings. We didn’t get any points for our primary objective to include unskilled local labour. Although the training process did slow the project down slightly, we are very proud of this building,” he explains. Hemraj does, however, stress that using labour intensive methods of construction should be implemented from as early as the conceptual design stage.

Due to security concerns the client had wanted the whole building to be fenced off amid fears of damage and vandalism. “We demonstrated, however, that the social connection is an important one and that you should open spaces up to the local community,”
 
“We want the community to be proud of where they live, so that they feel comfortable to reinvest within and remain committed in fighting for a better community environment.  We wanted this building to be an inspiration in Manenberg, something that we the City and the community can be proud off” he concludes

We are hoping that further buildings in the civic precinct will now follow suit with locally sourced materials like the Corobrik’s De Hoop Red facebrick.  Flooring in the building sees a variety of finishes, including eco-friendly carpets, polished concrete and wood. “We have a nice balance in the building with many different materials so that no one material dominates.”

From a sustainable perspective, minimizing our water footprint was the number one priority in the building, especially considering that future water restrictions are eminent in South Africa. Water collected on the roof is used to flush toilets, while elsewhere freshwater is used only for drinking – the rest is treated and reused, such as the water needs of the garden which is irrigated with a drip irrigation system using recycled water from our on-site black-water treatment system. Further sustainable initiatives see solar panels supplying 30 to 40% of energy consumed by the building, while the amount of concrete used in the construction was reduced (and where it was used, fly ash was introduced to reduce the CO2 count).

“A 4 Green Star building breaks even on cost/investment, with significant long-term benefits,” says Hemraj. We predict that we are saving an estimated R44 000-R48 000 per year in electricity at the City of Cape Town Housing Contact Office. That means that at today’s electricity costs we will have a payback for the renewable energy component in just 4-5 years. Further to the solar power, a wind turbine supplements electricity on cloudy or rainy days. The electricity is stored in batteries and can run the building, for an estimated three days.

Yet he believes that it’s not just all about the construction materials. “The social and economic elements are starting to become an important element of green buildings. We didn’t get any points for our primary objective to include unskilled local labour. Although the training process did slow the project down slightly, we are very proud of this building,” he explains. Hemraj does, however, stress that using labour intensive methods of construction should be implemented from as early as the conceptual design stage.

Due to security concerns the client had wanted the whole building to be fenced off amid fears of damage and vandalism. “We demonstrated, however, that the social connection is an important one and that you should open spaces up to the local community,”
 “We want the community to be proud of where they live, so that they feel comfortable to reinvest within and remain committed in fighting for a better community environment.  We wanted this building to be an inspiration in Manenberg, something that we the City and the community can be proud off” he concludes

Prepared for Corobrik (Pty) Limited

For more information contact:
Corobrik - Allistair Cloete on 021 888 2300
Cape Town City Architects – Ashley Hemraj on 021 400 9420

Distributed by Shirley Williams Communications
Telephone: 031 564 7700 or 083 303 1663
Email: [email protected]

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