The recent drought that has left much of South Africa dry is resulting in water restrictions in major metros across the country – bringing the issue of environmentally sustainable buildings under the spotlight once again.

As the possibility of ‘water shedding’ becomes more and more likely, commercial buildings and their management will need to become more resource-efficient. In this article, we explore some pro-active approaches that offices throughout South Africa can adopt on the road to becoming greener.

Dwindling resources make green practices essential

Our country’s restricted water and electricity supply means one thing for building managers – as prices continue to rise, the way these resources are used has to become less wasteful.

New buildings – especially those that are constructed using green building methods – are usually equipped with solar panels, smart energy systems and water recycling technology that reduce their overall usage considerably – but what can be done for older office buildings built several decades ago?

Eliminating wasteful habits – the key to sustainability

Retrofitting solar panels and water recycling systems is always an option for older buildings. While green technology is an excellent way to reduce consumption, there is one system that works in buildings of all ages and sizes – environmentally sustainable behaviour.

Educating building users, including maintenance staff and tenants, about the short supply of power and water in SA and the urgent need to conserve these resources is the first important step.

Following this, a system of resource-efficient behaviours needs to be adopted by everyone who uses the building. These include:

  • Fitting energy efficient lightbulbs and office equipment – and switching them off when not in use
  • Setting the air conditioning to a comfortable temperature (between 18 and 23 degrees) to avoid excessive energy consumption
  • Regular maintenance of the plumbing system to avoid leaks and water wastage
  • Fitting low-flow taps in office bathrooms
  • Recycling grey water for use in the garden irrigation system – this will save a huge amount of water each month

Recycling – going beyond utility bills

Water and electricity costs may be the most pressing financial considerations at the moment, but building managers need to look to the future as well.

Recycling is a practice that has produced great environmental results in countries around the world – and South Africa has started to catch up with this trend.

By separating office waste and recycling paper and plastic items, buildings can reduce their environmental impact significantly.

A number of companies serving the Cape Town area, including WastePlan and Recycle1st specialise in recycling solutions for commercial buildings.

If you would like to buy or rent office space in a green, resource-conscious building, contact us today. Our area specialists will be pleased to guide you through our selection of premium office premises.

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