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Cutting-edge Biomedical Research Institute achieves 'Green Building' status
Stellenbosch University's (SU) brand new, state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) not only sets the gold standard for research and education in Africa, but the building itself also leads the way in terms of environmental sustainability.
This was confirmed when this R1,2 billion, multifaceted research complex was awarded a 4-star (By Design) Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).
GBCSA is an independent authority that operates across the commercial, residential and public sectors to ensure that buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way. The Green Star certification process is governed by the GBCSA and involves certification of buildings using standardised rating tools to evaluate certain types of buildings, or sustainability aspects.
The BMRI was rated according to the Public and Education Building (PEB) Tool where it scored 52 points affording it a 4-star rating, which is considered “Best Practice" in terms of environmentally friendly design and functionality. See below for detailed information on the BMRI's Green Star scoring.
The following are some of the environmentally sustainable features of the BMRI that contributed to its 4-star Green Star rating by the GBCSA.
Smart Lighting – The facility is equipped with a Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) system that allows the user to control and adjust the lighting according to individual requirements. Sensors detect when rooms are empty and lights are dimmed and switched off automatically, resulting in an energy saving.
Building Management System – The BMRI has a state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS) located in a dedicated control room. All services running in the building, such as air-conditioning, power supply, pressure control in laboratories, access control, and more, consolidate onto the BMS platform, from where it is proactively monitored and managed in order to optimise the use of energy and safety.
Atrium Entry Heating/Cooling System – The atrium entrances are provided with underfloor heating and cooling systems to regulate the temperature of air flowing into the building. This feature helps to moderate the building temperature, which saves energy by taking pressure off the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The system uses the remaining energy in returned chilled and hot water from the building, further reducing the energy footprint of the building.
High-performance Glass – A combination of triple and double-glazed glass was used on all façades of the building to help with temperature control. This takes pressure off the HVAC system, resulting in energy saving.
Smart Design – The building orientation is north-facing, which minimizes sun exposure in summer, and increases it in winter, and naturally assists with temperature control. The building was designed with buffer areas, such as office space, in between the sun-facing side of the building and laboratories – where temperature is strictly regulated – to better regulate temperature and save on energy for air conditioning.
Building tuning – A green building consultant was brought in to fine tune all building systems to ensure maximum energy efficiency, while maintaining optimum functionality.
Water harvesting – The building ties into the campus's greywater masterplan, which allows for rainwater harvesting and the use of borehole water. All toilets are flushed with non-potable water.
Bicycle storage - A secure bicycle storage area with adjacent shower facilities is located in the basement to encourage staff and students to cycle to work.
The BMRI scored positively on the following environmental impact categories on the PEB assessment tool:
Indoor Environment Quality
Land Use & Ecology
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