Our New Office: Chapter 4

Our New Office: Chapter 4

Solid Green’s move out of our old home in Rosebank coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic and delays on the site of our new home in Parkhurst. Marloes Reinink talks about how the company is coping in these strange and uncertain times

A renovation always takes more time than you think and never progresses according to the planned schedule! Accordingly, we were obliged to make a temporary plan for office space between moving out of our 8 Tyrwhitt Avenue office into our new 33 6th Street office. Earlier this year, the Green Building Council SA announced that they are consolidating their Johannesburg and Cape Town branches and Solid Green was able to negotiate a sub-lease.

Although we were excited to start working from the GBCSA space in April, #lockdownSA came along and we realised that we will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Five weeks of lockdown have been interesting and challenging. On the positive side, we are all learning to have more efficient meetings, and that phone calls and Zoom/Skype/MicrosoftTeams meetings actually work very well and save tremendously on travel time.

To connect with the team during this period we have set up a Work Huddle (WUDDLE) every other day – a short meeting in which everyone gets to express their success, challenge and goal for the day. The Monday and Wednesday WUDDLES are work-related, and the Friday WUDDLE is social. This way, we keep in touch with the team and keep the team spirit going.

In the meantime, as we cannot physically work on further renovating the new office, we are putting some time into the Ecology of Place imperative of the CORE Green Building Certification that we are targeting. The CORE Green Building Certification is:

is a simple framework that outlines the 10 best practice achievements that a building must obtain to be considered a green or sustainable building. It puts the connection to nature, equity and the need for a building to be loved on even footing with the typical water, energy and materials concerns. Core seeks to rapidly diminish the gap between the highest levels of established green building certification programs and the aspirations of the Living Building Challenge.

The Ecology of Place imperative aims to protect ecologically sensitive places and encourages ecological regeneration and enhanced function of the communities of the site. Projects must document site and community conditions prior to the start of work. The landscape design must emulate the original reference habitat, and we need to assess cultural and social equity factors in the community. In addition, the landscape (except for the vegetable garden) must be able to sustain itself without irrigation, fertilisers and pesticides.

A report was commissioned from Marc Sherratt Sustainability Architects to guide the way forward. The indigenous reference habitat of our site sits within a grassland biome – however, due to urban development and exotic landscaping, little to no original species of this biome currently exist in the immediate area of the site.

While all plants found onsite were noted to be exotic to the grassland biome, the exotic trees were seen as an ecological asset that support other indigenous species. These trees are being protected during construction and are being linked to the regenerative adaptive approach of the landscaping. We are trying to emulate the original natural habitat through our selection of plants; and planting has been separated into four categories, linked to seasonal flowering times. All the species that we are considering are historically found in the original Highveld grassland biome and thus their presence should start attracting native fauna back to the garden.

Watch this space for more updates on our move to our new home!

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