FUTURISTIC in design, Absa Towers West at 15 Troye Street sets the benchmark for eco-friendly buildings in the inner city.

The building, which houses the bank’s headquarters, was designed to “ensure a healthy and sustainable symbiosis between development and the environment”.

Speaking at the roof wetting party on Monday, 18 July Maria Ramos, the group chief executive of the bank, said the investment made into Absa Towers West demonstrated the company’s commitment to the City of Joburg and its inner city renewal efforts, as well as to sustainable development.

Ramos said Absa was committed to enterprise development, social responsibility and environmental citizenship. The building embodied that in its commitment to the rejuvenation of Joburg’s inner city, “supporting the needs of our people and doing so in a manner that has a lower environmental impact”.

The roof wetting was attended by Executive Mayor Parks Tau; Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan; Britain’s minister of trade and investment, Lord Stephen Green; Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, Absa’s majority shareholder; bankers; and some clients. Lord Green and Diamond are in the country as part of a Britain Trade delegation led by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Gordhan officiated in the concourse of the building, where avenues of trees underline the architecture. The roof is glass, allowing direct sunlight into the building. On the day, new services and technology were on display, including disposable ATM cards, and the bank’s new SMME products for small enterprises such as spaza shops and informal traders.

Ramos said that in designing the building, which houses more than 3 000 staff, the bank considered global best practices “in order to maximise the aesthetics and functionality of the building, whilst delivering improved efficiencies”.

Gas turbine

It has a gas turbine, which will decrease Absa’s carbon footprint by an estimated 19 000 tons a year. It has the largest grey water system in South Africa, which helps cut water consumption by recycling 43 000 litres of water a day. Rain water, the water used in the gym and in the fitness centre is filtered and used for flushing toilets.