After tying up the final ends of its interior installation project in December last year, Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) now holds the keys to its new custom-fitted sustainable offices in Rosebank.
In an effort to help the organisation achieve a Green Star SA Interiors rating of its new Johannesburg headquarters, one of its founding members, interior construction company Saint-Gobain, sponsored the ceiling and partition material used in the project installation.
The company’s learning programme for unemployed youth, the Saint-Gobain YouthBuild Academy, trains young people into skilled artisans and then provides graduates the opportunity to become entrepreneurs through its incubator programme, which identified selected students to fit out the new offices.
“We wanted to provide our incubator students, both male and female trainees, with meaningful applied practice and this project provided the perfect opportunity,” says Matthew Baney, national academy manager at Saint-Gobain Gyproc. “In fact, the GBCSA happened to present a sustainability course to our learners a year ago and now those same students are fitting out the council’s new office rooms,” he says, adding that it’s a win-win situation.
The learners installed a range of products from Gyproc, Isover and Ecophon and a few graduates from the 2016 incubator programme, who have since started their own small businesses, were contracted to install the ceilings, partitions and acoustic panels.
“The project was crucial to helping these budding entrepreneurs kick-start their businesses while affording them crucial hands-on experience in a Green Star project, a valuable skill to add to their portfolio,” says Baney.
The new offices have been designed and built to be completely green. Grahame Cruickshanks, managing executive at GBCSA says that every item from the light fittings and air conditioning to the recycled furniture used in the décor, has been carefully selected to be environmentally friendly.
Aside from sustainability requirements, Saint-Gobain also had practical needs to meet. “In an office environment, it’s important to ensure acoustic comfort as noise levels can directly impact on the productivity and general well-being of those working inside the building,” says Cruickshanks.
To achieve this, Gyproc RhinoBoard SoundBloc and Isover Cavitybatt was used in addition to several other materials. Baney says that an added benefit of using these plasterboards is that they’re manufactured using less water at factory level and require zero water on site, making the installation even more sustainable.
“Overall we’re delighted with the outcome. Not only are the interior walls aesthetically pleasing but the drywall construction provides us with the flexibility we need to reconfigure rooms in the future should the need arise. And of course we have the added advantage of acoustic comfort and the peace of mind that the interior fit-out contributes to our sustainability goals. The fact that young trainees were able to gain practical experience on a Green Star project, and that incubator graduates were given business in the process, adds heart and soul to the project, making our new offices all the more exceptional and meaningful,” Cruickshanks concludes.