Windhoek – A mere one and a half years ago FNB Namibia was the first company in Namibia to receive the official 4-star “best practice” Green Star SA Certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa for the design phase of the FNB Freedom Plaza building.
“Developing and protecting the economy, environment and society is part of our P4 strategy,” says CEO Sarel van Zyl. “At the same time the environment is further encompassed in our pillars of being a responsible business and we have proven this through numerous initiatives such as for example support of Global United and, of course, our biggest investment, namely our green head office building on Independence Avenue.”
Excitement about the @Parkside building is still high at FNB Namibia and employees have settled well into their environmentally friendly atmosphere. “As you might remember numerous aspects have been taken into consideration to make life for our employees as comfortable as possible,” adds Van Zyl and briefly mentions some of the green aspects that make for great office occupancy, such as reduced discomfort as a result of glare from natural light due to the glazing selection and the specification of internal blinds, preferential facilitation providing for more fuel efficient vehicles for occupant commuting, provision of occupant and visitor cyclist facilities and heating, and a cooling and air conditioning system designed to allow vast amounts of fresh outside air into the building in order to reduce the build-up of indoor pollutants.
“The fact that we also took our arid conditions into consideration are proving invaluable during the current drought which has hit the country. The combination of water fixtures and fittings, rainwater harvesting, grey water collection and a filtration system have ensured that the building has been designed to surpass the most water efficient benchmark as set by the GBCSA. The design of the irrigation system ensures that there is over 90 percent reduction in potable water use for irrigation.”
When conducting a bit of desktop research, it seems as if South Africa was the pioneer in sub-Saharan Africa in developing green building standards while Kenya seems to come second in this respect, and it leads East Africa in the adoption of green building standards. Namibia, however, is not far behind.
African developers are increasingly turning to eco-friendly building practices, which can be seen in hotels, safari lodges and business parks around the continent. Even though the investment can cost more upfront than traditional construction costs, the effort pays off in the end in terms of environmental impact, reduced operating costs, and of course, good publicity.
“Buildings are a large contributor of greenhouse gases but have unfortunately received little attention in international global warming protocols and initiatives, which tend to focus on industry and transport. To prevent the worst effects of global climate change and minimise other negative environmental impacts, it is therefore important to address the environmental impacts of buildings. In fact, energy efficiency reductions in the construction and operation of buildings offers one of the single most significant opportunities to reduce man’s impact on climate change as green buildings can reduce energy and water consumption by up to 70 percent and cut land use by 25 percent,” said Van Zyl.
He concluded: “We are proud of our building and hope that any new ones in Namibia will follow suit as this will assist our government in achieving development goals that have been set, such as the National Development Plans (NDP), Vision 2030 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan. It also enforces environmental protocols such as the Paris Agreement on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Our planet is there for all of us and we all have to play a role in ensuring that it remains here for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.”