A new benchmark has been set in the Joburg CBD, this time for environmentally friendly building, with the opening of Absa Towers West, the headquarters of Absa Bank.
FUTURISTIC in design, Absa Towers West at 15 Troye Street sets the benchmark for eco-friendly buildings in the inner city.
Executive mayor Parks tau at the roof wettingExecutive mayor Parks Tau at the roof wettingThe building, which houses the bank’s headquarters, was designed to “ensure a healthy and sustainable symbiosis between development and the environment”.
Speaking at the roof wetting party on Monday, 18 July Maria Ramos, the group chief executive of the bank, said the investment made into Absa Towers West demonstrated the company’s commitment to the City of Joburg and its inner city renewal efforts, as well as to sustainable development.
Ramos said Absa was committed to enterprise development, social responsibility and environmental citizenship. The building embodied that in its commitment to the rejuvenation of Joburg’s inner city, “supporting the needs of our people and doing so in a manner that has a lower environmental impact”.
The roof wetting was attended by Executive Mayor Parks Tau; Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan; Britain’s minister of trade and investment, Lord Stephen Green; Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, Absa’s majority shareholder; bankers; and some clients. Lord Green and Diamond are in the country as part of a Britain Trade delegation led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Gordhan officiated in the concourse of the building, where avenues of trees underline the architecture. The roof is glass, allowing direct sunlight into the building. On the day, new services and technology were on display, including disposable ATM cards, and the bank’s new SMME products for small enterprises such as spaza shops and informal traders.
Pravin GordhanMinister of finance Pravin GordhanRamos said that in designing the building, which houses more than 3 000 staff, the bank considered global best practices “in order to maximise the aesthetics and functionality of the building, whilst delivering improved efficiencies”.
It has a gas turbine, which will decrease Absa’s carbon footprint by an estimated 19 000 tons a year. It has the largest grey water system in South Africa, which helps cut water consumption by recycling 43 000 litres of water a day. Rain water, the water used in the gym and in the fitness centre is filtered and used for flushing toilets.
There is a restaurant and pause areas on all floors, with several refreshment counters throughout the building.
“The building, which is part of Absa Campus, is centrally located and therefore extremely convenient for Absa head office employees who rely on public transport, while contributing to the regeneration efforts of the City of Johannesburg,” said Ramos.
It also reduces excessive energy and water consumption and carbon emissions. It uses digital energy-efficient lights with motion sensors and daylight dimmers. It also houses the Absa museum, the only money and banking museum in the country. It has demarcated bins to help recycling efforts.
The bank said the building was contemporary in design and was built in accordance with workplace ergonomics. It protected occupant’s health and improved employee productivity.
a tree-linedA tree-lined concourse“By promoting the new way of work and using state-of-the-art technology, the Absa Towers West [ATW] encourages collaboration and teamwork among colleagues, thus embodying the One Absa ‘better together’ philosophy,” said Ramos.
Absa Group is listed on the JSE.
The bank said it had chosen to pioneer this kind of technology in Johannesburg because it was Africa’s commercial hub with a 16 percent contribution to the GDP.
Green building practice aims to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. As the effects of climate change intensify, there has been an increase in the demand and building of eco-friendly homes and workplaces.
Eco-friendly buildings also use wind turbines, high efficiency lighting, environmentally friendly plumbing, recycling, efficient insulation, water conservation and solar panels, thus reducing their carbon emissions.
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