The conneXXion

The conneXXion: improving comfort, health and wellness for Exxaro employees

“The key to creating a green, high-performing workspace is unlocking ways to optimise the building occupants’ health and wellness. With the right skills, vision and rating tools, we can create buildings that improve occupant and visitor comfort, drive better choices and generally enhance health and wellness,” says Martin Smith, Zutari Technical Director – Buildings.

In 2017, Growthpoint Properties appointed Zutari for the environmentally sustainable design (ESD) services for its R600-million project to develop Exxaro’s leading-edge new head office in Centurion. The nine-storey building is located opposite the Centurion Gautrain station, and has consolidated its current offices in Tshwane and Johannesburg into a single high-performance, green workspace.

The building consists of five office floors on top of four levels of basement parking. The first two levels of parking are naturally ventilated, while the bottom two parking levels are mechanically ventilated.

The site’s dolomitic bedrock was a major challenge that the project team had to overcome. More than one hundred boreholes were drilled into the bedrock to create a 3D model. High-lying dolomite pinnacles were blasted and drilled down, upper layers of soil were compacted and a steel reinforced concrete raft foundation, complete with sensor monitoring, was laid.

Organic dolomite inspired several building elements, including being subtly expressed in its wall panels. A special glass-covered manhole also gives guests a view of the dolomitic pinnacle beneath the site’s parking area periphery.

Green Star SA and WELL certification

The project achieved a 6-Star as-built Green Star SA Office v1.1. certification. Some of the building’s sustainability features include performance glazed façade, zoned lighting, energy-efficient building services, water-efficient fixtures, rainwater harvesting, waterwise landscaping, low volatile organic compound (VOC) interior finishes, abundant fresh air and natural light, as well as a hydro panel that generates water from air. Besides secure bicycle racks, there is also dedicated parking for more fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids, electric cars and scooters. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system also played a significant role, in its innovation and sustainability, towards achieving the design certification.

With the right skills, vision and rating tools, we can create buildings that improve occupant and visitor comfort, drive better choices and generally enhance health and wellness.

The selected HVAC system for this building consists of a ceiling-concealed chilled water fan coil unit (FCU) system with a central pre-treated CO2-controlled fresh air system. The chilled water is generated by three high-efficiency air-cooled chillers with on-board primary pumps and a variable speed secondary circuit. The chillers are weighed using load cells to alarm any substantial weight loss, which signifies a loss of refrigerant. Over 300 ceiling FCUs provide cooling and heating to each of the carefully designed thermal zones. Each fan coil serving individual meeting rooms has its own wall controller for temperature set-point or on/off control. FCUs serving open plan areas have wall stats and are controlled by the building management system (BMS). The BMS monitors and controls every single aspect of the air conditioning system, as well as monitors other services such as generators, fire alarms, pumps, wet services, power and water meters, lifts and escalators, the data room temperatures etc.

Zutari’s appointment also included all office and basement smoke extraction, smoke make-up air, and staircase pressurisation.

In April 2020, the building also became the first in South Africa and Africa to achieve Silver Level WELL certification for Core and Shell by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). It is the first global rating system to focus exclusively on the ways that buildings and everything in them can improve occupant and visitor comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance health and wellness.

*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.
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