Healthier buildings, healthier people
The latest World Green Building Trend Report, which also surveyed South Africa, has found that these construction practices are on the rise worldwide because of significant operating cost savings and asset value increases from investment, both in new green buildings, but also in green retrofit projects. These two factors – savings and asset value increase – remained largely constant across countries and continents, so it’s become a global trend and unlikely to be reversed.
It’s thanks to local property developers like the Amdec Group, who build environmental considerations and sustainability into their projects from the outset, that South Africa is part of the universal movement towards greener building practices. The Amdec Group takes it a few steps further, by holding onto majority ownership and full management control of all its large-scale developments, including Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, so that there can be end-to-end control over implementing environmentally friendly, sustainable measures.
The drive towards healthier buildings and the health of the people live or work there is gaining momentum. This is linked to our greater understanding of the value of healthy living, the importance of a balanced lifestyle, and increased awareness of overall wellbeing.
When compared with other countries’ green building practices, South Africa stands out for two reasons – water and energy. The drought that ravaged the Western Cape and the load shedding that disrupted large swathes of Gauteng and other parts of the country, have focused the minds of property developers as much as ordinary South Africans, on the need to conserve these precious resources.
Over the 30 years of its existence, the Amdec Group has worked hard at making its buildings and developments sustainable and they operate all their properties with eco-friendly innovation always top of mind. They’ve also brought this philosophy to their latest project, the One on Whiteley apartment complex at Melrose Arch.
Energy-efficient LED lighting has been used extensively in conjunction with natural light. Motion-sensor lights lighten the load on the energy grid and backup power negates the effects of outages. Rainwater harvesting and underground storage tanks take care of water supply in the event of municipal services not being fully functional. A lot of work has also gone into establishing a sophisticated waste-management collection and sorting system on-site. Up to 43% of it is recycling and much of it is converted to gas.
The health of people is very much integrated. At Melrose Arch, the built and natural environments co-exist comfortably. Hundreds of trees are scattered around the precinct and inviting open-air spaces encourage those passing through here to pause and take a breath.
There are challenges to building green, chief among them perceived setup costs, but as the Amdec Group has shown, if plans are in place from the earliest phases of a project, there’s no reason why green innovation cannot be carried through the entire lifespan of a development. This also goes for building management once a property is occupied.
The bottom line is that it’s worth building green for social, economic and environmental reasons because it really is as simple as healthier buildings housing healthier people.