For the Aurecon building at Century City, Cape Town, to become the first in South Africa to be awarded a 5-Star Green Star SA – Office Design v1 rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), everything had to be done right from inception. Aurecon and Rabie Property Developers collaborated closely on the project, with Aurecon being a committed long-term tenant, part-owner of the building through an investment company and also providing key professional services. 

According to Albert Geldenhuys, Aurecon’s general manager, RSA, “sustainable building is not only the right thing to do, but also logical, practical, progressive and a good investment.”

The design of the building, which was constructed on a podium covering a naturally ventilated semi-basement of covered parking, was the responsibility of MaC Architects. According to architect Denis Maas, the main principles were “practicality, the location and the views. It was designed to hug the two roads, celebrate the corner at the traffic intersection, open out to the views over the Intaka Wetland Conservancy, and offer protected wind-free outdoor areas.” A rooftop garden covers 23% of the roof area and also includes a braai and bar area.  Maas points towards an opaque eco-resin staircase in the central atrium, computer-cut leaf-pattern powder-coated aluminum sunscreens and the rooftop planting as some of the more interesting design aspects. The four-storey building currently accommodates about 380 people.

Mary Haw assisted Aurecon’s internal team and others with the Green Star documentation. She comments that this building “has achieved a 5-Star Green Star rating with none of the ‘gadgets’ that one may associate with a green building.  There are no photovoltaic panels, no wind turbines or ‘new age’ materials. This demonstrates that a commercial office building can reach a high level of sustainability by good design that is within an expected budget of an office building of this type.”

Unlike conventional ventilation systems aimed almost exclusively at heating and cooling, the high specification air conditioning system concentrates on providing healthy, fresh air to the occupants of the building. It constantly monitors CO2 levels while variable volume diffusers sense the number of people in a room and adjusts accordingly.

Around 10% of materials, by value, used were sourced within a 50 km radius, a further 11% within a 400 km radius and most of the rest from elsewhere in the country.  The use of PVC was 75% less than for a standard building of this nature while another achievement was the use of 90% of recycled material for the reinforcing steel.

An innovative provision that ensures that the building will be managed as intended was the signing of a “green lease” believed to be the first in South Africa. The landlord and the tenant have undertaken to run the building as it was designed in terms of green building principles.


The full article appears in the June-July 2012 issue of earthworks magazine. Images: Jason Buch (