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The Precinct, Unity Building, Mauritius: Collaboration in design
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The Precinct, Unity Building, Mauritius: Collaboration in design

The Precinct, Unity Building, an office development in Mauritius, has achieved a 5-Star Green Star Office Design certification. The development, future home of the Gateway Real Estate Africa Head Office, is the first building in Mauritius to achieve a 5-star design rating.


The property is a key project within the Pamplemousse and Grand Baie districts in Mauritius and has a gross floor area of 9811.02m². The design of Phase 1 incorporates many environmentally sustainable initiatives in line with the GBCSA’s Green Star South Africa Office v1.1 certification tool, with further guidance taken from the 2017 Mauritian Local Context Report.

Photo credit Lar Photography

A collaborative approach

Nomamfengu Mbele, Sustainable Building Consultant at Solid Green, describes the feeling of excitement from the project design team who were challenged to rethink their ‘business as usual’ practices to contribute to the project’s sustainability goal. This resulted in quite a strong and diverse sustainability strategy that involved input from the whole team. She says:

It was quite a treat to have the operations and maintenance team involved so early in the project phase as it allowed for the project to target credits that a typical office building does not target in a design certification. These are also credits that contribute to building operations and tenant well-being long after the design team has concluded its work.

The theme of collaboration continued to show through the building’s façade selection which involved the architect, façade engineer and modelling simulations consultant from Solid Green. The collaboration between all individuals allowed for a façade solution that awarded multiple green star points.

The project will enjoy street frontage with a glass façade, a design element quite unusual in Mauritius. The façade will be equipped with performance glazing, providing sufficient daylight for all building users, as 68% of the office area has access to external views. Appropriate daylight glare control is achieved through perforated aluminium screens on the Southwest and Northeast elevations.

Photo credit Lar Photography

Resource efficiency

An energy model of the building was generated and compared to a notional building model. The building design showed an improvement of over 50% on the standard SANS 10400 notional building. Energy efficient measures include the development being designed to minimize the urban heat island effect to reduce the pressure placed on the air-conditioning and energy consumption of the building. The bathrooms and common areas are equipped with LED light fittings and occupancy sensors, while lighting in the parking areas makes use of LED luminaires and is equipped with motion sensors.

Sub-metering of major energy and water consuming systems is also in place. Water efficient fittings limit the occupant water usage to 0.52L/day/m2. There is no heat pump or domestic hot water production system for the building. If required by the tenant, an electrical storage boiler will be installed.

Photo credit Lar Photography

Innovative monitoring and display initiatives

The development has implemented a robust Internet of Things (IoT) system interface which will be used to display consumption data of water and energy as well as the building’s sustainable initiatives. This includes monitoring and reporting on indoor air quality factors such as air temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide. The information gathered by these meters is displayed though the IoT screen which will be placed adjacent to the facilities management office. This allows for building management to keep a close eye on the air quality that affects the health and mental well-being of its occupants.

Through this initiative, the development has noted the priority of having a building that thinks of holistic solutions, as sustainability is not only about reducing energy and water consumption but is also about ensuring the overall health of the environment and people.
This includes making provision for 10 plant units to be provided for every 25m² of the building. This is to improve the indoor environment quality and provides occupants with a connection to nature.

The project’s landscaping is to contribute to the biodiversity of the environment within the precinct. Intelligent irrigation control and moisture sensors are helping to save water, and only treated wastewater will be used for irrigation. Black water will be treated on site in a three-step process where grease, odours and large waste are removed from wastewater before bacterial decomposition takes place. Effluent is then disinfected with chlorine before being stored in a 32m3 irrigation tank.

Photo credit Lar Photography

Proactively dealing with waste

A Waste and Recycling Management Plan was developed and implemented to minimise the contribution of waste going to landfill and reduce the environmental impact of the project. The facilities management team together with Solid Green then took the process a step further and compiled a waste management plan that would allow for recycling to happen effectively.

Importantly, 95% of the total façade has been designed for disassembly. The design team created a comprehensive disassembly plan which includes identification of materials that are designed to be recovered during building disassembly; and details how (in terms of technique, expertise and technology required) the identified materials and products should be recovered, indicating the order of disassembly to enable them to be extracted without material damage or interference from other building materials/elements. By making the façade easy to disassemble, the costs and complexity of demolition have been reduced, while allowing most elements of the façade to be reused in other developments and recycled.

Photo credit Lar Photography

Conclusion

Avish Bhinkah of Gateway Real Estate Africa notes on behalf of the client that the building goes beyond the traditional design and construction principles and offers a futureproof adaptability to ever-changing tenant needs. He says:

Designed with all the flexibility today’s businesses need, it combines work, wellness and a social lifestyle in an array of contemporary and considered spaces, for a more holistic, efficient and enjoyable work life.

Project Team

Owner Gateway : Real Estate Africa
Accredited professional : Solid Green Consulting
Architect : EPA
Interior Architect : Novospace
Electrical engineer : ARUP
Lift specialist : Manser Saxon Elevators LTD
Mechanical engineer : ARUP
Structural engineer : ARUP
Quantity surveyors : RLB Hooloomann
Sustainable building consultant : Solid Green Consulting
Wet services : ARUP
Main contractor : Rehm Grinaker Construction Ltd
Project manager : Hodari
Landscape consultant : GreenScaff

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