Sisonke district office ‘a jewel’ in green design

2011-10-24 00:00

THE government’s first “green” building, the Sisonke District Office in Ixopo, is over 50% complete.

“This building will be the jewel in our crown,” said Maggie Govender, the provincial MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, who led a delegation of members of the legislature on Friday to view the work in progress.

The 7,6 hectare office park on the outskirts of Ixopo is being built according to “green design” principles and will consist of a main office block, a garage section and a maintenance block.

The project will be applying for a Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa and it is expected that at least a five-star rating (out of six) will be achieved.

According to John Wilkins, project leader for Public Works, Ixopo’s “green building” was initiated in 2007 in the context of global warming and the national energy crisis.

Provincial budget restrictions saw the project put on hold until mid 2010 and the contract for construction was awarded to Cyclone Construction later that year.

The roof of the north facing office block is literally green — it is being covered with soil and will be planted with indigenous plants designed for their ability to absorb carbon.

Such a roof also provides protection for people working below from heat fluctuations and ultra-violet rays.

Architect Steve Kinsler’s design also incorporates green design principles in regard to energy, materials (mostly sourced locally), waste and water. “All toilets are flushed by rainwater,” says Kinsler.

“And there will be no irrigation after an initial three-month period.”

Heating and cooling in the office block is provided by a single continuous water pipe coiled under the floor and made from a composite material with a predicted lifespan of 480 years.

The construction period is also environmentally friendly. All trees felled on the site — an old plantation — have been used during construction and no waste material has gone off site.

“There are so many lessons to be learnt from this building,” Govender said.

“What we learn here we can incorporate into standard designs for offices, schools and hospitals.”

“Though the cost of R19,5 million is 1,5% more than for a conventional building, the long-term savings will balance that out.”

feature1@witness.co.za

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