The Visual Arts building, located in the heart of Stellenbosch University’s main campus, is a heritage building that was constructed in 1905. It recently attained a 6-Star Green Star (Existing Building Performance v1) rating, making it one of 18 buildings in the University’s Jan Marais Square to have achieved this illustrious accreditation from the Green Building Council South Africa.
With a total floor area of 6 731m², and spanning four floors, the Visual Arts building consists of lecture halls, workshops and offices. Careful consideration has enabled the implementation of a number of sustainability initiatives, which allow it to operate at a very low energy and water intensity, according to Simon Penso, Director of Imbue Sustainability, the Accredited Professional for the project. “A lighting retrofit means that the building now benefits from energy efficiency lighting throughout. Efficient air conditioning systems have been put in place, in conjunction with natural ventilation,” he says. “The passive design elements that older buildings employ, such as the internal courtyard with covered walkways shading the windows, means that the majority of the building can be naturally ventilated.” The Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) of the building scored well owing to the high volume of fresh air, and access to views and daylight.
The Visual Arts building also scored highly as a result of the green transport options available. On the Stellenbosch campus, and in the town itself, attention has been given to the establishment of safe pedestrian routes and the encouragement of walking, together with the use of bicycles and campus shuttle services.
“All the main campus facilities are located within a two-kilometre radius from the building, and various traffic-calming mechanisms have been put in place – for example, raised pedestrian crossings and walkways with ridges for the blind,” says Penso. The University, as part of its Spatial Development Framework (SDF), identified various primary and secondary Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) routes across the main campus to provide safe and easily accessible routes along strategic corridors for all, including individuals with disabilities.
Cycling around Stellenbosch and the campus has been encouraged for many years, and in 2012, Matie Bikes was launched to rent bicycles to staff and students, with bicycle racks and stands available. Safe bicycle sheds are currently being erected, while the establishment of cycling lanes is being undertaken together with the Municipality. Shuttle services also form part of the sustainable transport options available, with a campus shuttle service offering daytime transport.
“Another notable sustainable initiative to mention is the fact that the Visual Arts building achieves an 81% waste diversion from landfill,” says Penso. “The building has on-site recycling, but in addition to this, the waste is taken to a central waste handling facility for the University, for further sorting.
“And then there’s the fact that all the departments have committed to a full set of sustainable plans, such as green cleaning, as well as an interdepartmental green lease. The buy-in and true commitment of all involved with the University is highly noteworthy – they really want to drive change for the good of the planet,” Penso concludes.