Moving towards a greener future

Posted on February 04, 2010

A sod-turning ceremony was held at the construction site of the new Plant Science building on Friday 29 January 2010. In her welcoming speech Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, described the occasion as symbolic of the successes of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and the University of Pretoria. Prof de la Rey said that this event marked the University’s commitment to 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity and that it was a “celebration of past successes and new beginnings”.
Prof Anton Ströh, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, extended his appreciation to the Executive Committee of the University for seeing the vision of the Faculty and the Department of Higher Education and Training for their support. He referred to the new building as a “world class facility”. The plan is to make this building as green as possible which provides a huge challenge to all the role players.
This building, to be located to the north of the existing Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), will consolidate all the Department of Plant Science’s teaching staff and research laboratories, which are currently located in five different buildings across the campus, in one central building.

Plants and natural rock will form an integral part of the new building. Three of the large exterior walls of the building (consisting of natural rock) will make innovative use of natural vegetation to cool the building and shade it from the sun. These ‘green walls’ will consist of indigenous flora – it will therefore be a living floral experiment. A number of other energy-efficient design principles will be implemented, including natural ventilation through the use of chimneys to extract warm air, thereby reducing the load on air conditioning systems that consume huge amounts of energy.

According to Prof Ströh, a “computerized, state of the art plant herbarium with about 100 000 specimens” will be located on the ground level. Laboratories on the first floor will be used to gain valuable knowledge on medicinal plants. Cancer research will be part of the activities on the first floor. The effect of global warming on indigenous plants will be one of the aims of research done on the second floor.  The second floor will also host the plant molecular biologists who will collaborate closely with FABI. The cutting edge micro-array apparatus will be moved from the Agricultural building and play a major role in the efforts to create crops with resistance to pathogens and other forms of stress, by inserting genes of resistant indigenous or other model plant species.

According to Prof Marion Meyer, Head of the Department of Plant Science, the ability of plants to survive harsh conditions in South Africa should be studied in order to transfer some of those qualities to crops. Many new opportunities will arise with plant scientists now being located in close proximity of each other. Multidisciplinary teams should be formed to unravel the many mysteries of our wonderful and diverse flora to make the world a better one, not only for humans but for all our living organisms.

Construction of the new Plant Science building will take approximately 60 weeks and should be completed by May/June 2011.

Proposed Visual Artifacts:

Digging in: Professors Marion Meyer, Anton Ströh, Cheryl de la Rey and Antonie de Klerk making progress.

Prof Cheryl de la Rey turning the first sod of the Plant Science building project

Celebrating the occasion: Professors Anton Ströh, Cheryl de la Rey, Antonie de Klerk and Marion Meyer.

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences