Mobile communications company, Vodacom, was named Highest Scoring Green Star Project 2008-20-2012 by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), for its Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.
The building was awarded six stars for its water, energy and emissions efficiency by the GBCSA in October 2011, making it the greenest building in the country. The six star rating is also referred to as “world class” by the GBCSA.
“We are very proud of this award because it is a testimony of our commitment to growing our business in a sustainable way. We all have a responsibility towards ensuring the sustainability of our communities, country and planet. The innovation centre, and what it aims to achieve, is a critical component of that philosophy,” Vodacom’s chief officer of corporate affairs, Maya Makanjee, said in a statement.
Material excavated from the original site was used in the construction of the centre, and it generates double the energy required to run the building’s operations through solar energy, with excess power being diverted to the Vodacom campus.
“A solar absorption chiller provides radiant cooling or warming through water pumped through a thermally activated slab,” the company said.
“The chiller also provides cooled air to the office space, so no water-based heat rejection systems are used.”
According to Vodacom, it is enclosed in glass to allow the use of natural daylight and rainwater captured from the roof is used for the irrigation of the gardens and the toilets.
A full-time team of engineers also works at the centre to investigate methods to reduce the company’s carbon emissions and implement more cost efficiencies.
“The project addresses sustainability in all respects which seeks to truly minimise the impact of the building on the environment,” said GBCSA’s chief executive officer, Brian Wilkinson.
The company has also implemented a more efficient hybrid generator known as a “power cube” and a slim-line solar “film” as an alternative to solar panels in base stations in urban areas with limited space. It has further plans to reduce carbon emissions by 5% a year until 2014.
The innovation centre also won an award for innovations in renewables at the Mail and Guardian’s Greening the Future Awards earlier this year.
“The innovation centre is one example of our commitment to sustainability. The scale of challenges on our environment demands ambitious action and we are responding with a continued focus on innovation to cut our carbon emissions across our business,” Makanjee said.