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Vodacom Group

Vodafone's Innovation Centre receives top green accolade

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre was honoured last night as the winner of the category Highest Scoring Green Star Project 2008-2012 by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) due to the outstanding nature of the project.

The building, situated at Vodacom's head office in Midrand, was awarded six stars by the GBCSA in October 2011 making it the greenest building in Africa. This accolade is due to its water, energy and emissions efficiency.

The building houses a team of engineers tasked with investigating methods to reduce the group's carbon emissions across its global footprint, as well as implementing additional cost efficiencies through the adoption of sustainable practices.  

"We are very proud of this award because it is a testimony of our commitment to growing our business in a sustainable way," says Maya Makanjee, chief officer corporate affairs at Vodacom. "We all have a responsibility towards ensuring the sustainability of our communities, country and planet. The Innovation Centre, and what it aims to achieve, is a critical component of that philosophy."

The six star accolade is also referred to as ‘World Class' by the GBCSA.

"In our quest to ‘change the way the world is built' we rely on true leaders to set the bar and the Vodafone project has done just that. The project addresses sustainability in all respects which seeks to truly minimise the impact of the building on the environment. Vodafone and their project team deserve this accolade as no other South African project has ever reached this level," says Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council.  

In building the Innovation Centre, material excavated from the original site was reused in the construction process.  In terms of its energy efficiency, the building generates double the energy required to run its operations through solar energy. The excess power is fed back into the Vodacom campus, creating a zero-rated energy building.

A solar absorption chiller provides radiant cooling or warming through water pumped through a thermally activated slab. The chiller also provides cooled air to the office space, so no water-based heat rejection systems are used. The building is fully enclosed in glass allowing the use of natural daylight and rainwater captured from the roof is used for the irrigation of the gardens and the toilets. 

Earlier this year the building won the Mail and Guardian's prestigious Greening the Future Awards for Innovations in renewables which, according to the judges, set the bar for renewable resource innovation.

"The innovation centre is one example of our commitment to sustainability. The scale of challenges on our environment demands ambitious action and we are responding with a continued focus on innovation to cut our carbon emissions across our business" says Makanjee.

Examples of innovations being implemented by Vodafone include the ‘power cube' (a more efficient hybrid generator) and the use of slim-line solar ‘film' as an alternative to solar panels for base stations in urban areas with limited space.

In 2011, Vodafone created a portable base station that was powered entirely byrenewable energy for the COP17 climate change conference in Durban.

Thecompany is also looking for ways to achieve further benefits beyond cuttingoperating costs and CO2 emissions from its network. For example, it iscurrently trialling a solar base station that also provides green power to thelocal community.

Locally,Vodacom plans to reduce carbon emissions within the organisation by 5% perannum until 2014.


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