In the heart of Woodstock, a Growthpoint Property is paving the way for a new way of life – one without consuming municipal water.
‘The District’ – Growthpoint’s first water net-positive building – has gone off the municipal water grid and supplies 45 000 litres of water a day without using a single drop of municipal water.
This is just the start of several commercial properties in Cape Town that the developer intends on taking off-grid.
The sizable multi-tenant office and retail building consists of seven floors and five basement levels with 18,721sqm of lettable area which accommodates a total of 25 businesses. In total 1 750 people make use of the building daily and consume 45 000 litres of water per day.
Timothy Irvine, Growthpoint Properties’ regional asset manager for the Western Cape, says: “By taking The District and other commercial buildings off the water grid, and substituting municipal water with a safe and sustainable alternative source of drinking water, we are taking pressure offthe city’s potable water reserves, adding to the resilience of the city’s water system, and contributing positively to the environment.”
The District obtains its water from naturally occurring underground mountain springs which flow to the building basement. For years this water has not been utilised and simply pumped into the City’s storm-water system to flow into the sea and prevent flooding in the building.
Before the water crisis began affecting Cape Town, Growthpoint investigated the possibility of using the sump water as grey water to flush the buildings toilets. The design of the building, however, has evolved greatly over the years and proved to be a challenge for finalising the water system plans.
When the water woes became worse in the Mother City, the team at Growthpoint decided to go back to the drawing board and give the plan another go.
“It is incredibly frustrating to have a sustainable alternative water source that has to be flusheddown the drain because it is not safe to drink. So, we challenged ourselves to find a way to use the sump to provide drinking water that is completely safe for human consumption for the entire building,” explained Irvine.
The task ahead was not an easy one, as they needed to identify and adapt existing technology never used before for this type of water filtration. A special legislation had to be drafted and passed with the City of Cape Town to allow it to produce water on a larger scale. In addition, building tenants had to buy in to the project for its success.
Fortunately, the process was made easier by the positive response from major stakeholders, including The City of Cape Town and tenants of The District, specifically major tenant Ogilvy Cape Town.
Now, Growthpoint provides all the water for this bustling building from the basement, where its filtration plant is based in its own sterile glass-fronted room. This enables anyone to view the sump water being made into drinking water. The plant’s filtration plant installation has also been designed to create a greater understanding and awareness about water. It is even labelled so that viewers can follow the process and learn how it works.
Some 140,000 litres of water flow naturally through the sump each day, and the filtration plant has been designed to clean the entire flow.