Creating working, playing and living spaces that respect the environment is not a new trend, but there are developments that are truly embracing the responsibility. Park Square is one of them. The greening of Park Square is being spearheaded by Carin de Beer and Georgina Smit and a team of specialists from the engineering firm, ARUP, and Park Square’s Construction Green Building and Environment Manager, Hester Badenhorst.

The development has achieved a 4-Star Green Star rating for Design and is in pursuit of a second As-Built Green Star rating upon completion. “Ensuring a building is 4-Star Green-Star rated is a complex and all-consuming process,” says Georgina. “But we found that the team working on Park Square were in full support of our mission. From day one it was a collaborative effort that saw us all working towards a clear vision.” The sustainability team have tackled a multitude of Park Square features, including energy consumption, water use, waste reduction and public transport access. Says Georgina, “One of the astounding ways in which the construction team have supported our mission was through actively trying to reduce their building material and finding ways to constructively use what building waste there was.”

Beautiful examples of this are the outdoor seating in the piazza as well as the cladding in the entrance lobby that are all made entirely out of building waste To have several teams work so seamlessly towards a common goal like a sustainable build there have to be processed in place to ensure everyone is on the same page. “One of our most important collaborative exercises was our innovation workshops held at the beginning of the concept design stage,” says Georgina. “In each of these workshops, we got together with the relevant parties and brainstormed how best to make the green-star rating goal accessible for their portion of the build.”

“The innovation workshops also unpacked what elements were most important for the client,” Hester explains. “In this case, it was energy consumption and indoor environmental quality. It was very important to ensure that good design principle was applied to the indoor areas and that we were thinking about things like air quality and natural light – all very important when promoting productivity and well-being,” she adds. Carin explains further: “Daylight is an important aspect of sustainability in a building both in terms of energy savings and comfort and wellbeing of the occupants. Integrated lighting design relies on using natural light effectively.

At ARUP, we believe in a 24-hour lighting philosophy, which means we develop holistic lighting solutions that carefully balance and combine daylight and electric lighting. I believe we have succeeded to do just this with Park Square.” A building’s façade is crucial to its energy efficiency, which was a key client requirement in Park Square’s green-star rating. The ARUP sustainability team did a high-level study to determine how façades would respond to various orientations.

“The intent was to look at ways in which the design could be optimised to suit the local climate conditions with a view to improving the buildings energy performance,” explains Carin. “We found that a well-designed envelope can reduce the total energy consumption of the building by up to 40%.” “In addition,” adds Carin, “a façade optimised to lower radiant heat gain and increase natural daylight levels is said to increase staff productivity and can significantly reduce operational costs of lighting and HVAC energy consumption.”

In the case of Park Square – the building predominantly faces North East, South East, North West and South West, orientations that often require significant treatment due to the combination of high and low sun angles. ARUP tested seven different façade responses. Six of the seven consisted of full height glazing and various shading devices, with only one including half glazing and half masonry/spandrel panel. Says Carin, “each type was simulated for all four orientations to determine the Daylight Factor and annual Cooling Energy Consumption. We then gave the architects a pallet of acceptable solutions for each orientation to choose from.”

Construction materials and new builds, as well as the ongoing operation and maintenance of buildings, make up a substantial amount of our greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it vital that architects and engineers find ways to work responsibly to create a beautiful, innovative and sustainable design.

From facades to natural light to reduced waste, Park Square’s team have no doubt ticked all these boxes and the development is set to become a sustainable benchmark in Durban’s built arena.