Green Star Certified Discovery Building
Interior of Green Star certified 1 Discovery Place

One of only a handful of 6 Star, Green Star As-Built rated buildings 1 Discovery Place has added 5 Star, Green Star Interiors v1 certification to its accolades.

The Sandton building 1 Discovery Place has been awarded a 5 Star, Green Star Interiors v1 certification by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). It is also only one of a handful of projects to have achieved a 6 Star, Green Star As-Built rating. Interior architecture company Paragon Interface, part of the Paragon Group, was responsible for the fit-out, while consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Zutari provided mechanical Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) services.

Claire D’Adorante Paragon Interface director: “It was always such a team effort. We could not have completed this project successfully without the cooperation and collaboration of the entire profession team. An interior rating is an in-use, over-time kind of rating. It is especially meaningful, as the building is functioning the way it was intended. Three years after handover and it is still going great.”

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Associate, ESD Consulting & Project Management at Zutari, Yovka Raytcheva-Schaap explained that 1 Discovery Place is the largest building the company has come across in South Africa that has been certified. Raytcheva-Schaap, who first became involved with the project in 2013, caled it a phenomenal achievement from both design and rating point of view. “It has been a long process, from the initial concept design through to construction, commissioning and rating,” she added. The interior rating process only occurs after the building is constructed, with Discovery taking occupation in early 2018.

“In the early stages, we saw the commitment of developers Growthpoint Properties and Zenprop in terms of the base build rating, and now we are seeing Discovery’s commitment as well with regard to the interior rating. To my knowledge, there are only a couple of buildings that have achieved both design and As-built ratings, and then continuing the process for the fit-out rating.”

Green star certification will take on a different meaning in a post-COVID-19 world

“There were a lot of design features we could leverage from the base build for the interiors rating,” said Raytcheva-Schaap.

“The fundamental difference here is that we looked more at the interior environment and how it affects the occupants, so it has a slightly different focus. The base build rating is about the wider environment, the location of the building, the construction process, base build energy and water and materials use solutions, while the interiors rating covers, in more detail, indoor environmental quality for inhabitants, acoustics, ergonomics, greenery and reuse, among other elements,” elaborated D’Adorante.

As a player in the health insurance industry, it was vital for Discovery to have the building fully activated from a physical point of view. In terms of the base build, this includes people using staircases rather than the elevators. The interior, on the other hand, has been designed to encourage a continuous flow of people around the different functional areas. The roof level includes a running track and other sports facilities with a view of Johannesburg.

While the Covid-19 pandemic did not have any impact on the rating process, the mechanical services implemented contribute to the building running in a mode where the air quality is as high as possible and fresh air is well-circulated throughout. “That makes it possible for the building to function under Covid-19 conditions, with less risk to the people working there,” said Raytcheva-Schaap.

As a result, 1 Discovery Place has been transformed into a mass Covid-19 vaccination site. “That has been very interesting to see, as the large atrium spaces are ideally geared for that.” Raytcheva-Schaap elaborated that the successful conversion demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of buildings designed in this way. “This will be more and more necessary going forward. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything so much, especially in the context of working from home. Many existing office buildings need to be repurposed as a result, and if this can be achieved cost-effectively and efficiently, the owners will see increased utility in future.”