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Vodacom Innovation Centre scoops green accolade

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The Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre (SSIC) was awarded yet another prize by Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) last night.

The centre won in the Highest Scoring Green Star Project for 2008-2012 category.

Situated at Vodacom's head office in Midrand, the building was opened in January this year. It was given a six star rating by the GBCSA in October 2011 making it the greenest building in Africa with the highest Green Star rating in the country.

"We are very proud of this award because it is a testimony of our commitment to growing our business in a sustainable way. We all have a responsibility towards ensuring the sustainability of our communities, country and planet," says Maya Makanjee, chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom.

"Not only is the building something amazing in terms of design principles and innovation, but it also houses a multi-disciplinary team of engineers. The purpose of this team is to develop innovative solutions on the network and to focus on how to reduce our carbon footprint," says Suraya Hamdulay, executive head of CSI and sustainability at Vodacom.

According to Etienne Gerber, manager of the SSIC, people are constantly coming to have a look at the centre and they view it as something innovative and unique. "We have tried to use as many recycled products as possible, especially in the garden," says Gerber.

The whole building is designed and functions with efficiency and sustainability in mind. This means solar panel installations, utilisation of natural lighting, blinds that track the sun and specialised heating and cooling technology. The centre even has its own wetland.

Vodacom's sustainability efforts

"There is no legislative requirement for us to set a carbon emissions reduction target, but as a business Vodacom understands the role that it can play in helping the country achieve its efficiency targets," says Hamdulay.

In order to do so Hamdulay asserts that it is essential to get executive management on board, which was not a problem at Vodacom. "We have very strong leadership at the top who understand the role that sustainability plays in business today."

Just two years ago when Hamdulay joined Vodacom, there was no dedicated sustainability communications team. "I came in and started looking at the business and saw that there were so many fantastic initiatives on the go and realised that we needed to publicise these things so that others can learn from some of the things we have done," she says.

According to Hamdulay, as a telecoms company, Vodacom's network is one of its biggest emitters and they are constantly looking at what technology can be implemented to make its networks run more efficiently.

Vodacom is also involved in various special projects in small communities around the country making use of the Vodacom network infrastructure to benefit the community in ways that extend beyond connectivity.

"Our future and growth depend on the environment, it is in our best interest to protect it," Hamdulay concludes.

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