Anatomy of a Building, Part 5

Part I:     Anatomy of a building 

Part II:    Anatomy of a building 

Part III:    Anatomy of a building 

Part IV:  Anatomy of a Building

Part VI:   Anatomy of a Building

 The fifth segment of a six-part series on the new Solaris Avenue Building at Camana Bay looks at the environmentally friendly aspects of the structure.  

Sometime before the end of June, tenants – including the law firm Mourant Ozannes and Aon Insurance Managers (Cayman) Ltd – will move into the Solaris Avenue Building, the new Class A office building in Camana Bay.  

In addition to its state-of-the art design, the building will feature many environmentally friendly elements, said Roddy Graham, senior construction engineer for Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd.  

“It’s not a LEED-certified building, but it very much follows the principles of LEED,” he said, referring to the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard. 

The LEED standard sets measurable parameters for green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Graham said the materials used in the Solaris Avenue Building are chosen to meet LEED standards as much as possible. 

“We try to use responsible materials … that are not detrimental to the environment,” he said, adding that, for example, non-ozone depleting caulking, paint and insulation are being used in the Solaris Avenue Building. 

Sustainable timber is another material used extensively the structure, he said. Although the building is concrete block and not a tremendous amount of timber will remain in the finished product, a lot of it is used during the construction process for concrete pour frames, as wall supports and other things, Graham said. 

“The timber we use is FSC Certified, which comes from the Forest Stewardship Council,” he said, adding that to get that certification, there are guidelines calling for new trees to be planted whenever one is cut down to help prevent deforestation.  

 

Controlling light  

Cayman’s climate and bright sunlight impacts the environment in several ways. Without proper building design and using the right materials, electricity demands increase, not only increasing costs with it, but requiring the burning of more fossil fuels. 

Some of the methods to keep the building cool are quite basic. 

“It’s important that you have a certain tint to the glass to counteract the strong sunlight we have here,” Graham said. 

In addition, sunshades will be used extensively on the Solaris Avenue Building, just as they are in other buildings at Camana Bay. 

Jared Grimes, Camana Bay’s senior manager of design and development, said the shading structures help keep both the exterior and interior areas of the buildings cool. 

“On the exterior design … we make sure we have deep overhangs,” Grimes said. “We’re very conscious about where the sun hits. If we don’t have deep overhangs, we have awnings to provide shade for the people, very much in particular, and of course shade for the buildings.”  

Grimes said the shading structures on the Solaris Avenue building were designed dependent on the angle of the sun. 

“On the south face of the building, which predominately gets a whole lot of sunshine, we have a very significant sun-shading structure that goes along the south face of the building to keep the hot rays of the sun off of the glass,” he said, adding that direct sunlight would make the interiors hotter.  

“On the east face of the building, on the ground we have another deep set arcade for what we hope will be a place for restaurants,” Grimes said. “Then on the south face of the building on the ground floor we have instituted some other metal awnings to complement our fabric awnings. We wanted to have something a little bit different to provide shade for the retailers that will be on the ground floor facing the south.” 

To determine the best shading solutions for the various sides of the building, an extensive solar study was conducted that looked at the angles the sun would hit the building a various parts of the day over the course of the entire year. 

In addition, the Solaris Avenue building uses high-performance glazing. 

“It’s not an insulated glazing, it’s just a low-E that keeps the light of the sun from getting in and really burning you up,” Grimes said. 

Although the sunshades are designed to keep direct sunlight from entering the interior areas, the building is at the same time designed to let in as much natural light as possible. Graham said that not only was the quality of natural light better, it allowed tenants to use more energy-efficient artificial light solutions. 

 

Landscaping  

Landscaping also has an environmental impact. 

Grimes said one of the over-arching principles for Camana Bay is that it should be “of the place and for the place”. That principle led the developers to the decision to be lushly landscaped with plants typical to Grand Cayman. 

However, landscaping requires a precious resource water, especially during Cayman’s dry season. LEED principles also call for sustainable developing practices when it comes to landscaping. 

Grimes said the plants used in the landscaping are specifically selected to be environmentally friendly. Even before construction on Camana Bay started, the Dart Group was using plants like trimmed sea grape trees as a landscaping feature. 

“We use plants that are indigenous to Grand Cayman,” Grimes said. “They’re used to the environment and thus, with the exception of the lawn spaces that we have, the plants themselves are happy growing in Grand Cayman.” 

To water the plants, Camana Bay uses gathered rain water. 

“We have installed an irrigation cistern in the Town Centre, underneath the cinema and we pipe all the roof rain water from of all of our Town Centre buildings back to that cistern and the we irrigate our plants from that cistern,” Grimes said. “That’s just something we’ve done that is environmentally conscious – it saves water.” 

Landscaping also absorbs light, reducing the amount of reflected light that could heat buildings. Graham pointed out that plants also absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, an important process in the earth’s ecosystem. 

 

Cooling  

The Solaris Avenue Building is made of reinforced concrete blocks. 

“Concrete in itself is a very good insulator,” Graham said. 

In addition, Graham said light exterior colours on the building were chosen intentionally because of their reflective qualities.  

Camana Bay also chose a more efficient way of cooling the interiors of its buildings, the Solaris Avenue Building being one of them. 

“We [made] the decision to put in a central chiller water plant to serve the campus of Camana Bay and that in and of itself is a more efficient method for cooling building, especially when you have a large number of buildings,” Grimes said. “That’s another element from the environmental side of things we’ve done at Camana Bay to try to reduce energy costs and just to be as efficient as we can be.” 

anatomy of a building

The Solaris Avenue Building exterior is getting close to completion.

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