The trend of merging developments with ecologically sensitive building best practice is fast taking root across the country, according to Ann-Mari Malan of green building consultancy AGAMA Energy. As a result, developments such as The Sanctuary in the Cape are being built in increasing numbers.

Eco building trend growingThe Sanctuary in Somerset West, a three-storey ecologically sensitive development located on the banks of a 32 000m3 rehabilitated wetland, was constructed by Abacus Development Company and SVA International. Designed with the aim of minimising the impact of its presence on the environment, The Sanctuary, a mixed-use retail and office development, has used ecologically sensitive building practices to create spaces determined by the mix of uses required of the site and their relation to the natural elements of water, sun, wind and mountains.

“Architecturally speaking, the centre combines a contemporary aesthetic with the highly textured building materials synonymous with the Cape Winelands,” says SVA International associate, Bruce Wilson. “The design concept was entirely focused on providing users with a generous, well-lit, comfortable and convenient place to shop, work, eat and exercise.”

The triple-volume central atrium and three-storey mall at The Sanctuary make maximum use of daylight and fresh air, with opaque roof lights on the perimeter of these spaces diffusing natural light throughout the interior, while controlling for glare and solar heat gain. Rooftop water tanks have been installed on every block to supplement the fresh water supply, and water-efficient sanitary systems have been used throughout. Grey water and rainwater is recycled for sanitation and irrigation purposes.

The pond at the centre of the development, originally a polluted water body, was subjected to an extensive water and landscaping maintenance programme, which included the removal of more than 5 000m3 of polluted soil. The Sanctuary also manages energy consumption, with a number of active systems installed, such as waste heat reclamation systems and tenant heat pumps to meet the demand for hot water.

“Given the high energy costs and water scarcity in South Africa, implementing green building practices sends out a strong message about an organisation’s commitment to sustainability while promoting a positive image with stakeholders, customers and employees,” Malan says.

“Analysts point to long-term financial savings, saying the average 5% to 20% greater capital outlay for such developments must be considered against the landscape of electricity scarcity and the energy savings green buildings will make over time. Additionally, research shows that the developments tend to attract higher-end tenants, and are more pleasant to work in, operate from or live in.”


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