Vodafone’s innovation centre declared Africa’s greenest building

Vodafone’s Site Solution Innovation Centre was yesterday honoured as the winner of the category “Highest Scoring Green Star Project 2008-2012” by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) given the outstanding nature of the project.

The building, which is situated at Vodacom’s head office in Midrand, was awarded six stars by the GBCSA in October 2011 due to its water, energy and emissions efficiency, making it the greenest building in Africa.

“We are very proud of this award because it is a testimony of our commitment to growing our business in a sustainable way,” Maya Makanjee, chief officer corporate affairs at Vodacom, said. “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.”

The building is home to a team of engineers tasked with investigating methods to reduce the group’s carbon emissions across its global footprint, as well as implementing additional cost efficiencies through the adoption of sustainable practices.

The six-star accolade is also referred to as ‘World Class’ by the GBCSA.

Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council, said: “In our quest to ‘change the way the world is built’ we rely on true leaders to set the bar and the Vodafone project has done just that.  The project addresses sustainability in all respects, which seeks to minimise the impact of the building on the environment. Vodafone and their project team deserve this accolade as no other South African project has ever reached this level.”  

In building the Innovation Centre, material excavated from the original site was reused in the construction process. In terms of its energy efficiency, the building generates double the energy required to run its operations through solar energy. The excess power is fed back into the Vodacom campus, creating a zero-rated energy building.

A solar absorption chiller provides radiant cooling or warming through water pumped through a thermally activated slab. The chiller also provides cooled air to the office space, so no water-based heat rejection systems are used.

The building is fully enclosed in glass allowing the use of natural daylight and rainwater captured from the roof is used for the irrigation of the gardens and the toilets.

Earlier this year, the building won the Mail and Guardian’s prestigious Greening the Future Awards for Innovations in renewables, which, according to the judges, set the bar for renewable resource innovation.

“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 added.

In South Africa, Vodacom plans to reduce carbon emissions within the organisation by 5 percent per annum until 2014.

Posted in: Telecoms

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