Six stars for an F

Block F of Upper Grayston is a 2 500m2, three-storey building that has recently been awarded the coveted 6 Star As-Built Green Rating, a top accolade from the Green Building Council of South Africa.  

The decision to build Block F came from experience gained during the creation of Block E, a project that was awarded 5 stars.

“We started with Block E in Upper Grayston Office Park with the intention of only having a 4-Star rating. We managed to design it very effectively and we decided as a group to push and make even further changes during the construction process to achieve the 5-Star As Built rating, which was indeed achieved,” Ron Henderson, director at Byprop, says. 

With additional experience, the team decided to aim for six stars on their next build: the creation of Upper Grayston was a deliberate attempt to build the most energy efficient workspace in the country and they worked closely with the Green Building Council of South Africa to achieve this. 

While commonly used practices such as storm water, recycling, air heating and cooling systems were installed, new and innovative ways of recycling, powering and handling by-products were also included. One of the most interesting installations is the set of photovaltaic panels, which produce up to 25% of the building’s electricity. The building also has specially designed light trays that reflect daylight into the building, eliminating the need for massive internal lighting systems.  

But the process wasn’t as simple as using their previous experience — for a six star rating, they needed to really push the boundary into new, unknown territory. 

“Probably the hardest part was putting together a team of people who were knowledgeable and committed enough to put in the necessary hours to research what was essentially a new field for all of them and ourselves.”

After eight months, the original team was restructured — some members had been unable to participate in the time-consuming and often expensive process of attending Green Council courses, writing exams and keeping on top of the necessary paperwork for certification. In the end, “this was a very worthwhile process because now we have assembled a very committed team for future projects”.

Bryprop also had to convince its other equity partners to see the long-term gains of the project. “Essentially the building would cost us approximately 10% more, therefore providing a 10% lower yield, but the partners in the venture were confident that the rentals would offset additional costs and the benefit in terms of the environment would be an extra added bonus.”

Byprop was able to produce a guide from the experience, educating occupants on best practice use of the building. The benefits are long term and are projected on a minimum 20-year plan.

“We are all learning something new every day and the best part of this experience was to learn a whole new way of building.  After 40 years in the business, this was indeed a revelation.”