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Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:28

The hub SA’s first green precinct

In an industry first for South Africa, Central Square at Menlyn Maine, which opened on 21 September 2016, has been certified using a custom tool from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) and has achieved a Green Star SA Custom Mixed Use rating.

Central Square is the 65 000m² city centre of South Africa’s first green mixed-use city precinct, Menlyn Maine, and comprises a piazza, public park, hotel, apartments, conferencing, offices, hospital, sporting facilities and specially selected retail and restaurants in a 30 000m² boutique-styled mall.

#MeetMeAtCentralSquare
Imagining Central Square as a meeting and greeting place, Henk Boogertman, architectural director of Menlyn Maine Investment Holdings, explains that it was uniquely crafted for convenient daily shopping, but to also provide a compelling design experience for leisure and entertainment.

Unlike a standard mall, Central Square was designed with the feel of a high-end pedestrianised shopping street such as in major cities around the world.

One of the first events is The Spirit of Tshwane exhibition, which features 20 sculptures by Anton Smit throughout the square. Smit’s iconic Spirit of Tshwane sculpture was a Cool Capital initiative commissioned by Menlyn Maine and will remain a permanent feature in the precinct.

Custom mixed-use rating
To achieve the custom mixed-use rating for Central Square at Menlyn Maine, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Green by Design team assessed all the current available ratings tools before deciding to make use of the Public and Education (P&E) Buildings Design Rating Tool – as its structure offered the greatest semblance for what was required.

The P&E tool offered flexibility for adapting certain criteria to focus on different morphologies, and defined how credit should be allocated for the Green Star rating that would more accurately reflect the building.

“Where before it may have been difficult to entrench sustainability into projects that did not fit into the Green Star rating criteria, this progression to having a customisable tool that enables mixed-use developments to use the Green Star rating accreditation will allow robust sustainability in the built space to be applied across the board,” says Alison Groves, HOD sustainability consultant at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in Africa.

“This is an exciting and important move for the industry towards having one overarching tool that can be customised and used to accredit all types of building models.”

In addition to adapting the necessary criteria, the custom tool also allowed the company to incorporate aspects such as “green leases” to ensure that tenants can be held responsible for their own energy use. “Green leases are growing in importance as the first step in changing mindsets towards sustainability and getting buy-in from tenants for retail, commercial or residential use, alike,” Groves adds.

A green vision
The 315 000m² decentralised green city mega-development, Menlyn Maine is one of 16 projects in the Climate Positive Development Programme (Climate Positive) and the only one in Africa. This is a partnership between the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Clinton Climate Initiative and the United States (US) Green Building Council to support the development of large-scale urban projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions below zero in an economically viable manner.

Working towards ratings
With a focus on energy and water consumption, transportation and waste management, all the buildings in Menlyn Maine have been designed to be four-star Green Star rated, even the hospital and apartments. Tracking building performance, it has been certified that the Nedbank building, whose status has since been upgraded to a five-star Green Star rating, is using 50% less power and 46% less water than a similar conventional building.

In addition, the aim is to also achieve an LEED Neighbourhood Development rating through the United States Green Building Council.

Boogertman points out that the precinct will be managed by the Menlyn Maine Property Owners Association, which means that all building owners have to contribute. “We are going to provide security systems for the whole precinct, maintain the parks, and importantly, keep it free from signage and gantries with billboards,” he states.

Power generation
All the roofs in the precinct are erected at 26° and have been reinforced to accommodate photovoltaic cells for power generation. Although not installed yet, in time to come, Boogertman expects that about 30% of the daily energy use will be generated from the sun.

Walkability
Since the idea is that people can live, work, shop and be entertained without leaving the precinct, walkability was an important consideration in the design. “The precinct was designed with blind people in mind, using special groove tiles in the pathways and bubbles indicating stops or different levels. In addition, the precinct will have 1,5m wide bicycle tracks throughout,” he says.

In addition, there will be a series of parks throughout the development with 40% of the public walkways covered with tree canopies. According to Boogertman, close to R15 million will be spent on landscaping alone.

An old way of living
“Central Square at Menlyn Maine is not a new way of design – instead it is an old way of living, because if you go to any European or American city, you’ll find exactly what we are trying to achieve here. Everyone calls this new urbanism, but it’s not, it’s old urbanism that is just being revoked. People are starting to understand that living out in the sticks and getting into your car to go anywhere is actually a crazy way to live,” Boogertman concludes.

Read more about the design and finishes of Menlyn Maine Central Square in the next issue of WALLS & ROOFS.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Central Square Menlyn Maine and WSP for the information given to write this article.

Highlights on the Menlyn Maine development timeline:
20 October 2016     The launch of 500 high-end apartments, from 29m² units going up to 400m² units.
January 2017          Completion of the short-stay/long-stay hotel on top of Central Square.
1 April 2017            The opening of the casino and 8 000 seater arena. Underground, the 2 000 parking bays at        Central Square will be connected to the 3 500 of the casino.
March 2018              Completion of the 22-storey hotel with a three-star, four-star and five-star offering and a 360° pool on the roof.

Next four to five years:
•    A 14 500m² new head office for the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
•    A head-and-neck hospital.
•    A Bus Rapid Transit system bus station at the new bridge intersection with
•    Atterbury Road.
•    Three more office buildings.