Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Master Builders KwaZulul-Natal goes Green.

Roof Wind Turbines

Almost 300 KwaZulu-Natal members descended on the Master Builders KwaZulul-Natal head office in Westville, Durban last week to witness the official opening of the renovated building.

Already a distinct landmark in Westville, the Association’s head office is even more impressive courtesy of the spinning wind turbines and solar panels on the roof that provide a healthy supply of clean energy to the users in the building.

Addressing guests, the Association’s Executive Director, Brandon Abdinor said R10.5 million was invested into “greening” and renovating the four storey building to create an environment for members as well as the public in general to make use of the construction related facilities.

“We decided on the renovation because we were no longer getting the best use out of the facility. We wanted to ensure that the building and its use aligned with our objective of providing a networking and information sharing hub for members, industry stakeholders and the public. We also wanted to reduce our ecological footprint by becoming more energy and water efficient.”

The result is a cutting edge building that leads by example. It’s a “one-stop-shop” for Members of the Association, as will be a mine of information for the public, DIY builders and people looking for builders and building products.

There’s also a shop stocked with a wide array of gadgets such as power consumption meters, safety equipment, tools and literature. Conference and parking facilities have been improved and a cafĂ© will be open in the new year to serve light refreshments.

“We believe we have created a platform for members and consumers to use to their advantage. The exhibition space will be updated continuously and will supplement the long standing advisory capability to point people in the right direction.”

The building itself is a shining example of a greening project. Air conditioning and lighting has been modified to make more efficient use of natural ventilation and lighting. The Perspex dome atop the heat-trapped atrium was fitted with whirlies expelling hot air and drawing in cool.

Solar photovoltaic panels (PVs) are sandwiched between some of the glass panels that make up an extremely large portion of the building. Nearly 200 batteries store the power and inverters are creating usable voltage.

Two six metre high wind turbines have been installed on the roof to assist the PVs. The system generates power for computers, essential lighting and other devices linked within the building’s electrical grid.

Rainwater harvesting is achieved with six water tanks capable of storing 30 000 litres which provide water for the lavatory cisterns and during periods of no rainfall for the roof garden.

Bruce Luyt of LVE Construction who was the main contractor, said the project was challenging, particularly because retrofitting had to be carried out while the building was occupied. “There were a lot of firsts for us but a very cooperative client and friendly relationships went a long way to ensuring the success that was attained.

Bruce Clark from Durban based Bruce Clark Associate Architects, the official architects, said the objective of the retrofitting exercise was to showcase how an existing building can be retrofitted through the use of some simple interventions.

“Everything was done in a visual and accessible manner such as how the solar water system works, where the batteries are stored, how much electricity is being used at any time and all the other environmentally friendly products and systems that we are implementing,” he said.

Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal is an Employer Body representing members in the Building and Construction Industry. Visit for more information and find a member in your area.

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