Green buildings healthy for climate and bottom line

Buildings, consumers of more than 30% of the world’s resources, including energy and water, provide a major opportunity for lower energy use and water shedding.

Designing and constructing public and private buildings with the climate in mind has many benefits: buildings are more environmentally friendly but also lower the overall cost of operation by using less resources over the lifetime of a building.

The payback period for investments in green buildings becomes shorter and more attractive as electricity and other costs rise. An added benefit is that customers, employees and other stakeholders enjoy being associated with a forward-thinking organisation that builds sustainability into its operations.

Sustainable buildings are not just good for the environment but also healthy for the bottom line. As part of its commitment to sustainability, ABB South Africa, together with Improvon, invested R500-million in an energy efficient and environmentally friendly building at the group’s Longmeadow, Johannesburg, head office, logistics and manufacturing centre.

The building has won awards for energy efficiency including an eta award sponsored by utility Eskom and in association with the Department of Energy and a special green building award from SAPOA (South African Property Owner’s Association).

The building has been equipped with energy efficiency technology from ABB including products and systems as well as environmentally friendly features that reduce the building’s use of natural resources such as water.

The building incorporates solar heating, high-efficiency motors and drives, a heat-recovery system from the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) for hot water and a building management system (BMS) that automates the control of all lighting. Photosensitive lighting is available at all workstations. The building makes extensive use of natural light through its H-shape design and location of services at the core and people at the perimeter where natural light is abundant.

The building has been designed to consume as little water as possible, making extensive use of rainwater harvesting and water recycling to irrigate the indigenous gardens. The environmentally friendly features at the Longmeadow building have resulted in a commercial building with a substantially low carbon and water footprint. It incorporates strong elements of climate mitigation and adaptation. Recycling features prominently in the building’s operations as does green cleaning.

The COP 17 climate change conference in December, which will be held in Durban, is expected to focus on the role of business and technology to mitigate climate change. ABB, as a global leader in power and automation technologies, has an important role to play in providing technology to mitigate climate change and promote skills transfer.

The Longmeadow building provides an excellent example of what can be achieved in lowering environmental impact through energy efficient technologies.

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