Refurbishing a building provides opportunities for companies to make their buildings more efficient, increase sustainable measures and improve the work experience for staff. Firmenich, in line with its global commitment to three strategic streams; acting on climate change, embracing nature and caring about people, have taken bold and considered steps in delivering an exceptional facility which has received a Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) 6 Star Green Star Interiors rating.
Firmenich worked with the Tétris Design and Build team to deliver a holistic solution that considered the entire ecosystem of a workspace. The final solution places the employee experience and wellbeing at the centre of an upgraded building that includes improved energy efficiency, rainwater harvesting, quality air supply, access to natural light, and views of landscaped gardens.
A 6 Star Green Star rating is a notable achievement, underscoring an organisation’s commitment to future proofing its business where climate change and resource availability are key considerations for long-term success.
An initial workplace strategy, assessment of technical laboratory requirements and a light study resulted in 85% of employees seated within seven metres of natural light. Laboratory technicians have views outdoors, meeting rooms are filled with daylight, and an extended glass and steel atrium provides a much-needed staff informal meeting, connecting and eating area.
Energy and water solutions
A 75% reduction in municipal power use through the installation of 110KW photovoltaic roof panels with battery storage ensures continuous productivity despite power outages. This saving is combined with a 67% reduction in reliance on municipal water achieved through collecting and processing rainwater from the roof and parking.
Water collected is stored in a 100 000-litre underground tank before being pumped into a 5 000-litre tank above the ground and then through reverse osmosis treatment to generate potable water for staff.
Air quality in the work environment is core to Firmenich achieving a healthy workspace and is essential in a space dedicated to producing tastes and fragrances. Positive and negative air flows are engineered to ensure that smells stay inside laboratories and don’t extend beyond these areas.
The HVAC system distributes fresh air throughout the space, and CO2 monitors continually measure air quality. Awareness of power and water usage levels and air quality are all tracked through smart meters and communicated internally to create awareness about the use and conservation of natural resources.
Aesthetic comfort is added to the efficiency of the refurbished building through open-plan workspaces with informal seating and collaboration areas marked with bold wallpapers and patterns that identify different divisions’ workspaces.
While aligning with the company’s global brand guidelines, there is also a strong use of pattern and geometry informed by local African shweshwe fabrics to anchor the project in its regional context. The connection to nature and clean air is continued through the addition of large planter boxes that provide screening in open areas and custom-made plant features that fill the hallways and the double-volume reception area. Staff can also access an outdoor deck under the shade of large trees in the landscaped gardens for work breaks.
A truly sustainable solution
The final result is a revitalised office for the Firmenich business that sets a benchmark for a rigorous approach that considers every detail towards improving the overall performance of a building and the comfort and wellbeing of the teams working within them – a truly sustainable solution.
“The refurbished offices and manufacturing laboratories in Midrand demonstrate Firmenich’s excellent support for their employees’ health and well-being and their businesses’ performance. The Tétris goal of creating environments where innovation, connection and community thrive was paramount in every detail of the project. We are thrilled that our collective efforts resulted in a 6 Star Green Star rating,” says Ryan O’Donavan, Tétris Project Manager.