By AHI-Carrier South Africa
One of the greatest challenges for the building industry today is attaining green building certification.
The PwC TowerThe PwC Tower. Image credit: All photos by IMD
Understanding and implementing best practice in this area is what will give us our ‘green credential’ status. And as a company, we stand behind this progressive concept wholeheartedly.
According to the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), “A green building has to be energy-efficient, resource-efficient and environmentally responsible. It must incorporate design, construction and operational practices that considerably reduce or eliminate the negative impact of development on the environment and occupants.”
The HVAC industry has historically found itself in contravention of green building criteria.
However, that was in the past. Well, at least for world leaders in the industry who have since developed heating and cooling systems which are now fully ‘green building’ compliant.
Those who have and are still developing the technologies toward compliance deserve our every support.
We understand that HVAC costs go deeper than just the initial purchase and installation. It extends into how the running of our equipment either puts a load on energy resources or spares them. We start to value reducing harmful gases more than just servicing our own creature comforts.
General green building requirements
Put simply, green buildings need to be resource and energy-efficient, non-wasteful and non-polluting. They should be highly flexible and adaptable for long-term functionality.
Green buildings should be easy to operate and maintain. Last but by no means least, they ought to support the productivity and well-being of the occupants.
Green buildings utilise a whole-building lifecycle approach. Most especially, let us remember that no one has it all down.
A green building is not static, it is an organically evolving concept, a worthy goal for all mankind. ‘Green’ is essentially different for every building. It will need to consist of unique solutions that meet specific functional parameters and climatic conditions.
High on the list of green building compliance is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). On that score, HVAC units need to prove energy-efficient heating and cooling. Similarly, a focus on environment-friendly, non-toxic materials and the reduction of waste is expected. Designing an environment that keeps moisture and mould at bay is a prime focus for what heating and cooling systems we use in our buildings. Ventilation is about adequate exchanges of fresh air. Outdoor air in cities and in surrounding urban areas is anything but fresh. Keeping out pollution is a priority for any HVAC system committed to green building credentials. “Clean construction practices and smart materials specifications reduce dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Attentive maintenance emphasises non-toxic solutions,” advises architectural designer, Greenspace Studio.
Accenture in Midrand, has achieved a ‘Design’ 4-Star Green Star rating.
Working for a greener tomorrow
AHI-Carrier has already been involved in highly sensitive applications requiring innovative technology at its best.
Delivering energy-saving to Pennsylvania’s Iron Mountain, a data centre in the US, put the design team’s green building goals under stringent test. Iron Mountain protects billions of valued assets form the likes of the Fortune 1000 companies to the US government itself. Critical business information, highly sensitive data, and cultural and historical artefacts depend on cooling systems that meet green building standards.
In keeping with their green building mandate, AHI-Carrier developed the solution for the Sisters of Mercy Headquarters in Belmont, North Carolina. This project is another that bears testimony to AHI’s ability to factor in energy efficiency in the case of HVAC systems. Their solution was required to serve the entire campus with residential, administrative, religious, and educational facilities for between 400 – 500 people spread over 20 438m2 of space.
We in South Africa are also starting to make an impact regarding our green building achievements. A case in point was the iconic PwC Tower in Gauteng’s Waterfall City, Midrand. Not a small part of what gave the project its green building status was the high-efficiency, water-cooled screw chillers plus three multi-functional air-cooled chillers and a heat pump. Described as ‘unique capability’, AHI’s PwC Tower solutions perfectly and precisely match both building load and energy efficiency without compromising the environment.
Stella Place in Sandton is a 5-Star Green Star rated building.
Fast becoming a leader in green building, South Africa is seeing more and more companies opting for environmentally friendly solutions. The Green Star SA rating allows for certification of buildings based on the following levels of achievement:
- four-star Green Star SA Certification, which signifies ‘Best Practice’;
- five-star Green Star SA Certification indicates ‘South African Excellence’; and
- the six-star Green Star SA Certification which signals ‘World Leadership’.
The aim of all of us on this extraordinary planet is to go green from the ground up. As we take on this global commitment, our heating and cooling systems need to step up to the plate.