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Pioneer investment leads green buildings

FNB’s independently certified green headquarters. This building will be the first of its kind in Namibia.

FNB’s independently certified green headquarters. This building will be the first of its kind in Namibia.

With its new and unique green head office which is currently under construction, FNB Namibia recently said it is envisaging the development of the first independently certified green building to serve as an example to those that follow.

According to Susan Fick, Senior Manager Special Projects and Strategy, the bank is aiming for a 4-star green star rating in best practice.
“Green Star is a voluntary environmental rating system for buildings in Australia. It was launched in 2003 by the Green Building Council of Australia. The system considers a broad range of practices for reducing the environmental impact of buildings and to showcase innovation in sustainable building practices, while also considering occupant health and productivity and cost savings,” she said.
She noted that nine categories are assessed with the Green Star tools which includes management, indoor environment quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions, and finally, innovation.
“The resulting score is translated into “Green Stars” as follows: Score 45-59: 4 Star Green Star signifies ‘Best Practice’ in environmentally sustainable design and/or construction,” she added.
Fick further said that this great step by FNB holds benefits on many levels.
She said, at the national level, it means essentially addressing market transformation. This is achieved by overcoming resistance to change. It means that, for example, thorough environmental management plans are in place, and waste management is enforced to ensure greater landfill diversion.
“Equally, a substantial portion of the building materials will be sourced from within Namibia. Skills transfers will occur at every level, empowering labour, professionals and professional associations, all contributing to reinforce the emerging green economy,” she added.
FNB also advised that at the city level, a better performing building using less energy, less water, while rejecting less sewage and light pollution, means that the existing urban infrastructure will be less burdened, allowing more developments to occur within the current infrastructure upgrade programme.
“From a building users and guests point of view, it means that the building will provide a comfortable, pleasant and stimulating working environment, with better access to external views, more natural light and fresh air, and radically improved indoor environmental quality, all contributing to high levels of productivity, in order to attract and retain talent.  A truly world class working environment,” she said.
The green star rating is not without its challenges. Fick said that FNB loves challenges and is well aware of the fact that the first certification in a country is always going to provide challenges as Green Star requires far greater reporting and documentation than used in the existing systems. With regard to costs she advised: “The original design already encompassed many aspects that address best practice with regards to electrical, water and waste management in terms of our FNB standards for new building developments. In pursuing and by achieving the 4-star Green Star rating we have added additional components adding an additional spend to the project.”

When asked about the long-term impact in terms of savings and carbon footprint Fick advised: “If we ignore all other benefits and only look at the energy saving component alone, even with a conservative view of a 15% saving in current costs the payback period achieved would be within 7 to 8 years. International and SA studies show this saving to be closer to 35% which would mean a payback period of only 4 years, at current expected electricity tariff increases. And we cannot ignore the savings even a 1% increased productivity would have on our salary bill that constitutes a large percentage of the bank’s total non-interest expenditure.”
FNB Namibia has requested that this project be certified from a sustainability point of view. “Our consultants WSP GREEN by DESIGN have worked relentlessly with the fledgling Green Building Council of Namibia (GBCN), to lay the necessary foundation to certify this project, enrolling the assistance of the Green Building Council of South Africa in a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship, ”said Fick.

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