Knightsbridge Office Park – where every drop counts

By Mofenyi Maimela, wet services engineer at WSP

WSP Africa has always prided themselves in designing functional and efficient plumbing and drainage systems as best practice and finally had the opportunity to design, occupy, and fully utilise its own system.

WSPINSIDEWSP Africa was entrusted to design its new offices in Knightsbridge Office Park, situated in the redevelopment of Bryanston. The design was to comply with latest regulations and contribute to a 4-Star Green Star GBCSA-rated park.

Knightsbridge Office Park is a multi-tenant office park that was divided into three phases of design and construction. Credit: WSP

Knightsbridge Office Park is a multi-tenant office park that was divided into three phases of design and construction. WSP Africa is privileged to be a tenant for one of the three buildings in Phase 1.

WSP is a global business providing consulting in the engineering and built environment and this state-of-the-art office park would be the base for WSP’s Africa operations. Emira appointed WSP’s multidisciplinary team for the project feasibility, strategic planning, concept development, detailed design, and construction monitoring for the 30 000m2 green office park.

The architects and landscape architects (Boogertman + Partners and The Gardeners, respectively), exercised their aesthetic muscle to bring a modern look with a South African taste.

Design criteria

Although not as glamourous as other building services, wet services forms an intricate part of the office environment. As South Africa barrels down to an increasingly water-scarce ColdWaterPlant3region, WSP was to ensure that minimal water is wasted. Moreover, where it was achievable, WSP had to design systems that would capture rain and groundwater to be re-used. Emira shared the same sentiments and together with WSP Sustainability Consultants, looked for ways to not only save water but also use it as efficiently as possible.

Some of the installation of the cold water plant. Credit: WSP

The wet services system comprises the internal plumbing and drainage system for the office ablutions of all three buildings and HVAC condensate drainage. Emira required a three-day storage capacity for the potable water that would serve Phase 1 offices from a domestic storage plant. Furthermore, Emira required no hot water in ablutions; instead, as a compromise, to provide a cyclist facility with showers, to serve the entire office park’s tenants.

Water harvesting

HotWaterPlant5Although WSP explored the possibility of water harvesting with Emira, the difficulty was to introduce a separate plant. In addition, there would be a double piping system, which would have been difficult to co-ordinate, especially with the waste and soil water separation. Moreover, latest regulations stipulate that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) would be required, as well as approval from council for these systems. As a viable compromise, the team settled for a rainwater harvesting system that would serve the park’s irrigation. The landscaper would then use plant life that was already on the park or bring in indigenous plants that require little water.

Hot water plant. Credit: WSP

Although the majority of the concrete slabs were constructed, there was no dedicated plant room for the rainwater harvesting plant. Fortunately, with assistance from the architect, a dead space was optimised for the rainwater harvesting plant. A few stormwater pipes were diverted to the plant, including the main sump that gathers the groundwater to the rainwater harvesting plant.

A large percentage of water wastage occurs in pipe leaks. To monitor this, WSP designed the system to have water meters that link to the BMS and to the incoming council mains to ensure that if there are any irregularities, they are detected and addressed.

WSP Wet Services gives liberty to the plumbing specialists to select reliable equipment to meet the performance criteria, as per its designs. The equipment selected were as follows:

Domestic cold water plant

Domestic cold water plant 1

Domestic hot water plant

Domestic hot water plant 2

Rainwater harvesting plant

Rainwater harvesting plant 3

Lift pit sump pumps

Lift pit sump pumps 4

As a collective effort between WSP Wet Services, WSP Sustainability Consultants, and Boogertman + Partners, low-flow fittings were selected to serve the ablutions and pause area in an effort to use water efficiently. The hot water system is based on SANS 10400: XA, which states: “50% of all annual hot water generation is to be of a renewable source other than electrical elements.” The renewable energy equipment used are heat pumps, which have a coefficient of performance (COP) of 3:1, which contributed to the low electrical usage.

The domestic cold water plant was put to the test as Bryanston experienced municipal water cuts. Since the surrounding buildings could not operate, Knightsbridge managed to withstand the scarcity and lasted for three and a half days before Joburg Water reinstated the municipal incoming supply.

As the system settles, WSP, along with the contractor, will have the opportunity to finetune the building function of the wet services. So far, the system has been in operation for nine months and all of the client’s desires have been met, with new tenants occupying the available spaces.

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