Discovery building six Green Star rating

The new Discovery head office is only one of a handful of projects to have achieved a 6-Star Green Star As-Built rating. This achievement from the Green Building Council of South Africa, pushes the envelope for an environment- and occupant-friendly building. Engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon, which is rebranding as Zutari, provided mechanical and ESD (Environmentally Sustainable Design) services for the new head office.


The new Discovery head office is only one of a handful of projects to have achieved a six Green Star As-Built rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa, pushing the envelope for an environment- and occupant-friendly building.

one discovery place, dicovery head office building sandton

Engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon, which is rebranding as Zutari, provided mechanical and ESD (Environmentally Sustainable Design) services for the new head office for health insurance and financial services provider Discovery in Sandton. One Discovery Place was developed by Growthpoint Properties in a joint venture with Zenprop Holdings.

“This is a pioneering green precinct concept due to its size, and because employee well-being and health is at the heart of all of Discovery’s business,” comments Martin Smith, Technical Director – Buildings, Aurecon. It houses Discovery Bank, Insure, Invest, Life and Health and the Vitality Group.

“Our aim was not only to deliver a word-class sustainable building but to provide an incredible client experience that would forge a relationship with the largest property owner in South Africa,” highlights Smith. The challenging project had an almost four-year construction period, commencing in 2014 and delivered in March 2018.

large building in sandton discovery head office

One Discovery Place comprises a public-accessible ground floor plus eight levels of office space, a Tier 3 plus data centre and an activities-related feature roof level. The combined Gross Floor Area (GFA) of Phases 1 and 2 is about 150 000 m2, or about 18 rugby fields, with an additional 24 rugby fields of parking space.

“Being part of this landmark project has been an honour as well as a fantastic learning curve as to what can be achieved when sustainability, wellness and community are the golden thread throughout each design decision,” comments Smith.

As the ESD consultant, Aurecon’s role was to integrate the design of the architecture and building services from a sustainability point of view, explains Yovka Raytcheva-Schaap, Associate, ESD Consulting & Project Management, Aurecon.

“From the very inception of the project, we worked in close collaboration with developers Growthpoint and Zenprop, Discovery the tenant and the entire professional team to first establish the sustainability objectives and then see these implemented throughout the construction,” Raytcheva-Schaap highlights. A critical role in this process was played by the principal contractor, a joint venture between WBHO and Tiber, as well as all subcontractors appointed for the various trades.

ground floor inside the discovery building

This allowed the building to achieve the desired energy and water efficiencies and the responsible use of construction materials and waste-handling, in conjunction with requirements for occupants’ health and well-being. ‘Green’ initiatives included a highly efficient air-conditioning system, optimally-designed, energy-efficient lighting, grey and rainwater harvesting systems and water-efficient sanitary fittings, as well as carbon monoxide monitoring in the basement.

Aurecon also carried out in-depth analysis on the striking, curved façade that draws light into the building and is critical to the thermal comfort of the occupants. Utilising various digital platforms such as 3D modelling, CFD analyses, energy modelling and daylight and glare modelling, the Aurecon team was able to provide a fully-integrated BIM solution.

“The successful delivery of this project not only resulted in a flagship development for the client but a landmark that differentiates it as the best in its field,” Smith points out. One Discovery Place is the

first building of the larger Sandton Summit precinct in Johannesburg. The project team was subsequently reappointed to help deliver this world-class sustainable ‘smart’ precinct.

Growthpoint Properties received the 2016 CESA Aon Visionary Client of the Year Award in the Private Sector category. One Discovery Place also won three South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) awards in 2019.

It scooped top honours in the Interiors and Office Developments: Corporate categories and was named Overall Winner. In addition, it received a commendation at the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) AON Engineering Excellence Awards 2019 in the category of projects with a value greater than R250 million.

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