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Deloitte embraces environmental stewardship, leads in green building design

Buildings account for 22% of direct and indirect, energy related CO2 emissions in South Africa. They also use water and produce waste. Changing the way in which they are designed, built and operated has the potential to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and influence climate change.

Johannesburg, South Africa, 22 April 2021 – Deloitte Africa is part of a global organisation whose business activities impact the environment, which is why the organisation has committed to a more sustainable future for its people, community and planet. This is evidenced by its emphasis on building high-performing green buildings, which the organisation believes are part of the solution to combating climate change.  The organisation recently announced its global commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 for its own operations as part of its WorldClimate strategy.  

 “As the world commemorates Earth Day on 22 April, we are reminded of our responsibility to act towards protecting the environment. Green buildings havemeaningful potential to influence climate change, and they are better for people. By building green, we can reduce the impact that our buildings have on GHG emissions in line with our net-zero GHG emissions commitment. Our new headquarters in Midrand Gauteng, and offices in Cape Town, support our Purpose to make an impact that matters,” says Bonga Nyembe Managing Partner for Responsible Business and Public Policy Deloitte Africa.

The two high-efficiency developments build on a legacy of Deloitte landmarklocations embracing sustainability in their designs, including The Edge in theNetherlands, The Gateway in Belgium and 1 New Street Square in London.

Deloitte Africa’s new 42,500m² ultra‐modern, ultra-efficient head office, River Creek, in Midrand is the first building in South Africa to receive a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) v4 rating from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, are a way to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and their inhabitants. A United States study found that by building to LEED standards, buildings contributed 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally constructed buildings due to water consumption, and 48% fewer emissions due to solid waste[i].

River Creek, a sparkling glass building in the heart of Waterfall City, consists of a ground floor with six stories of offices and four basement parking levels housingnearly 2,000 parking bays. Built with sustainability in mind, the building’s energyperformance is optimised with solar panels, renewable back-up power, and enhanced ventilation to reduce electricity usage from air-conditioners.

Other features include blinds that track the sun, rainwater harvesting and storage, indigenous landscaping, and a bottling plant in the basement of the building to provide glass-bottled water as an alternative to plastic bottles. Water from the water harvesting system is used to irrigate the gardens around the exterior of the building and for flushing the toilets to limit wastage of potable water. During construction, materials with a low environmental impact were prioritised.

Representing exemplar green building design, Deloitte Africa’s offices in Cape Town, The Ridge, is one of only nine buildings in South Africa to be awarded with a 6 star Green Star Office Design rating by the Green Building Council of SouthAfrica (GBCSA), exceeding South African excellence (5 star) and industry best practice (4 star).  One of the greenest buildings in Africa, its designers call it a “living, breathing building-organism”.

A number of special technologies were incorporated into the build to facilitate the high score under the relevant rating aspects of SA Green Star. This included the use of an estimated 12,000 Ecobricks as void forming materials for non-load bearing concrete elements, believed to be a first for a South African commercial building.

The Ecobricks, which are plastic, waste-filled PET bottles, displaced in the regionof 24,000 litres (24m3) of concrete by void forming, representing a significantlevel of dematerialisation and the removal from circulation of 9,000 tonnes ofa non-biodegradable stream of plastic pollution by incorporating it into the building.

Wherever possible, natural materials were used in the construction to ensure that the Ridge is environmentally sensitive. Its pioneering timber façade, a ontrast to typical concrete and glass commercial buildings, is another first for SouthAfrica.

The building features mixed mode natural ventilation mechanical systems to deliver optimum levels of fresh air, while vast, opening windows provide natural light. Employees and visitors enjoy inner green spaces which include a groundbreaking ‘central street’ concept naturally ventilated with fresh air as well as breakaway zones to create an environment that inspires productivity.

Nyembe says, “As the climate crisis threatens both business conditions and society as a whole, stakeholders are beginning to demand that companies act as responsible stewards of the earth. Deloitte is serious about its part in the growing movement to re-imagine the business sector’s role as caretakers of their communities and our planet. From the ground up, and from start to finish, The Ridge and River Creek are inspired by our promise to promote welling being and limit harm to people and to the environment.”