The environmentally-conscious mantra of 'Reduce Reuse Recycle' describes the WWF South Africa’s newly refurbished building in the suburban hub of Braamfontein. The building has earned its ‘green’ stripes through recycling and in doing so has achieved 6-star Green Star status, the highest level of recognition from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
From the brickwork, timber and rubble to the metal pipework, every element has been considered. The original building was taken down brick by brick to retain as much as possible.
Simon Cretney of Alive Architecture sums it up, "We salvaged all the bricks, all the wood including the timber from the roof, and all the timber that was used from the ground to the first floor. We are talking huge Yellowwood beams – 400 mm deep, 120 mm wide, 6.7 m long. We also salvaged all the floorboards, the pressed steel ceilings and the corrugated metal on the roof.”
The WWf SA office is the first retrofitted building in the country to receive a 6-star rating., with every effort being made to design intelligently for optimal sustainability, salvage and reuse materials that are still sound, and to dispose of any unusable materials in a responsible way.
The Green Building Council defines such a status as 'world leadership' in sustainability. The objectives of Green Star SA tools are to establish a common language and standard of measurement for green buildings, promote integrated, whole-building design, raise awareness of the benefits of green building, recognise environmental leadership and reduce the environmental impact of development.
WWF-SA considers its refurbished building as a benchmark in sustainability and green building design. It showcases how innovative, practical and sustainable solutions – combined with creative design flare and lower cost production practices – can be adapted to influence the environmental impacts of a retrofitted structure.
“We did not build our new office, we reconstructed it. We re-used and recycled everything that we could possibly salvage from this old structure. The WWF Braamfontein building ultimately disproves the notion that green buildings are expensive,” says Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO for WWF-SA.
"We were able to re-used 80% the original building materials in the re-design and incorporated natural ventilation, a closed water recycling system, light-sensitive blinds, various insulation solutions and an indigenous rooftop garden with water-efficient plants that are watered by rainwater."