MTN seeks US Green Building Council certification for Fairlands office

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    Telecommunications provider MTN has registered its office campus in Fairlands to become a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) certified facility with the US Green Building Council – making it the South African company to seek such certification for an existing operation.

    The ambition to own and operate a certified green building follows the company’s objectives of achieving environmental sustainability.

    The initiative was being driven by MTN’s facilities management team, and was launched at the beginning of 2009, explained MTN chief financial officer Zunaid Bulbulia.

    “We did a green audit in April 2010 and, based on what we have already introduced and our plans going forward, we do appear to be well on our way to achieving silver certification from the US Green Building Council,” said Bulbulia.

    “We are currently assessing various ways to make our facility more green and realise there are many opportunities to improve the way we manage our building, from reducing our energy and water consumption to waste management and the use of green cleaning products,” said Bulbulia.

    MTN has developed green operations policies for solid waste management, sustainable procurement and green cleaning, and developed programmes and plans to implement these policies.

    The company has installed 83 energy sub-metres across the office campus to provide real-time live data on MTN’s actual energy consumption across various systems such as lighting, computer equipment, kitchens and each office floor.

    “This enables us to identify shortcomings in electricity savings and intervene more efficiently and quickly,” explained Bulbulia.

    “The temperature set points in the central air-conditioning system have been changed to reduce energy consumption and a pilot is in progress to check on electricity savings by implementing timer switches. We are investigating the savings by switching the energy source in the Phase 1 kitchen from electricity to gas, and are currently installing LED lamps which, while costly at the outset, do consume minimal amounts of energy and last longer than any other light source currently available.”

    Two water sub-meters have also been installed to track water consumption for irrigation and the cooling towers on the facility. Plans were also in place to install moisture sensors on the irrigation systems and solar irrigation control systems to reduce both water and energy consumption.

    On the waste management front, the company would be introducing recycled paper printing and copying, and would rationalise the number of printers currently in use, to reduce paper and printer cartridge consumption.

    MTN was also finalising a green waste collection and recycling programme, and has started introducing green cleaning products into the facility cleaning procurement objectives and contracts.

    “Our target is to become the first company in South Africa to achieve Leed certification, and gold could also be in our sights if we put more focus into our greening efforts by the time that we submit our report to the council,” concluded Bulbulia.

    The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) was established in 2008, and has established Green Star SA rating tools for office buildings, which could assess buildings during the design and construction phase. A new rating tool for retail centres has also recently been published by the GBCSA, however, no rating tool for existing buildings in South Africa has been drawn up yet.
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