25/01/2018 11:41 SAST | Updated 25/01/2018 13:14 SAST

Wow Factor: Inside South Africa's New Zero-Carbon Building

The latest "Net-Zero" project has almost no environmental impact.


It's not even built yet, but 78 Corlett Drive in Johannesburg has already been awarded a "Net Zero" rating for its extraordinary attempts to achieve architecture's hallowed carbon-zero status.

But the mixed-use, open-plan, co-working office building's impressive list of innovations go beyond the standard solar panels of many "eco" buildings (though it does that, as well!) into a whole range of environmentally-friendly structures.

The extension of architecture into smart urbanism is incorporated into 78 Corlett Drive's planning.

It promotes the use of electric cars by providing charging facilities, dedicated bays for electric vehicles, and five motorbike parking spaces. The building is also one of the few in Johannesburg to actively promote cycling to and from work by including bicycle racks, together with a cyclist's changing room, shower and lockers.

Net Zero


The building keeps itself cool without energy-intensive air-conditioning. 80 percent of the offices look out onto the garden, making sure the sun and wind can penetrate the whole building. Moving shading louvres on the facade act as a passive shading device, and clever air-cooled chillers ensure that the building doesn't waste water to cool itself as well.

Managing waste is an important part of planning a green building, which 78 Corlett does by minimising the contribution of waste going to landfill during construction, reducing the use of Portland cement, making sure 60 percent of the steel in the building is made of recycled content, and that all timber products used in the building and construction works were specified to be Forest Stewardship Council approved.

Water in drought-ravaged South Africa is also becoming increasingly important, and low-flow fittings are used throughout. It doesn't use a fire sprinkler system, which helps to reduce potable water wastage, and landscaping uses the bare minimum of potable water for irrigation.

Corlett coming together @ideascartel #spot on#excited#

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"Net Zero certification helps industry understand the ultimate goal of what we should be aiming for as property owners and developers in terms of environmental objectives. Rather than simply doing 'less bad', we can neutralise the impact of developments or even have a net positive impact," says the Green Building Council of South Africa's executive director for certifications, Manfred Braune.

"This is a fantastic achievement, of which they can be very proud."