– Commercial building tenants, managers and owners count the benefits of EDGE certified green buildings
It’s lunch time and Radwan Dakmak looks out of his office window from the 13-storey Atlantic Tower, a grade-A commercial facility nestled within the commercial hub, Airport City. The building, which is IFC EDGE certified, offers 13,500 square metres of space to discerning tenants who seek prime locations that offer higher occupant comfort, operational cost savings, and great customer experiences.
From his view, Radwan, who is the Managing Director of Tower developers – Wahhab Estate, could tell that because the sun was at its fiery peak, white-collar workers having a bite in the nearby café seemed hurried to return to the office. It is their comfort and satisfaction that typically occupies Radwan’s thoughts as he seeks to provide great value for his tenants.
With minimal reported cases and little or no COVID-19 restrictions, there has been a steady return to the office setting or a semblance of normalcy, with staff returning full-time in most organisations. While this has been a great boost to the economy, business and facility managers have had to prioritise health and safety issues, running costs, staff comfort and productivity. Radwan has no such great worries as Atlantic Tower has achieved about 90 percent occupancy despite the impact of COVID, mainly because of the green value proposition offered. The Tower achieved EDGE certification in 2019 after surpassing the minimum standard of 20 percent improvement in energy, water and materials as measured against local construction practice.
The EDGE programme, which receives significant funding from the UK Government and Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), helps to identify the most practical ways to build green. It helps to build in a fast, easy and affordable way while considering the local baseline, which includes building codes, climatic data and typical utility costs.
The Atlantic Tower conserves energy with passive design features like external shading devices, includes energy-efficient air conditioning and occupancy sensors as well as water-efficient fixtures. These green measures have brought great value to the tenants of the Atlantic Tower, who are willing to testify to the many gains in increased productivity, comfort and operational cost savings.
When the building was certified in 2019, the predicted savings were 46 percent in energy, 56 percent in water, and 49 percent less embodied energy in materials. From the account of tenants, actual savings have matched or not been far off predicted savings.
Barely a kilometre away from Airport City, on the Independence Avenue, sits the CalBank Head Office building. The iconic 12-storey tower is a green building, and depends mainly on renewable solar power generated in-house and complemented by the national grid, while the water system for the building is from harvested rain and underground water. The resource-efficient office building is aligned with CalBank’s commitment to integrate environmental and social management into its business activities and operations.
The building received EDGE certification in 2019; and Abraham Aguriba, a member of the project team, believes the decision to go green has seen a commensurate return on investment. “At CalBank, we have been able to save an average of 562.4 megawatts per hour of power consumed. These savings translate to an average of 40 percent cost reduction as a result of application of energy efficient measures, which were part of the design for which EDGE has validated,” Abraham reiterated. He also mentioned that the average water consumption is about 768 cubic metres/year instead of 921.6 cubic metres due to water efficient measures applied.
Back at the Atlantic Tower, Jennifer Bawuah, GM for Intesoll Engineering Solutions Limited – an engineering firm housed within the tower, makes an important point on occupant comfort, with particular emphasis on the balance between staff well-being and productivity. She elaborated on the daylighting and sound proofing, which enhances staff concentration and engagement in contrast to spatial constructs which are far less considered, and have a detrimental effect on work and well-being.
While the driver for green adoption in Ghana seems mainly investor-led due to quantifiable benefits, there is a growing trend of discerning consumers and tenants making green a factor in their purchase or lease decisions. This portends for higher pipeline development of green projects; after all, everyone in the chain wins. It is something Radwan will agree with – that clarity surely not lost on him from his view.