It has been ten years since South Africa’s rapid adoption of the green building movement – with eco-friendly buildings now being recognised as the standard for quality real estate.
Although terms like “environmentally-sustainable buildings”, “rain harvesting” and “off-the-grid innovations” have been bandied about for years in greenie or hipster circles, they have gained more credibility since green building initially took off in 2007 in South Africa.
Supporting this view is the number of certified buildings by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), which has risen to 200 buildings from one certified building in 2009.
Going green has largely been in the office property market. However, the next phase of sustainable building is expanding into the affordable housing market.
The certification of eco-friendly residential homes has been in the making since 2014 through the GBCSA’s rating tool called the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (or EDGE) for new houses being designed and built.
Since piloting the EDGE tool two years ago, the GBCSA is in the process of registering and certifying 5 300 residential homes. It is also targeting for 8 000 homes to be certified by the end of the year.
Speaking at the International Housing Solutions Affordable Housing Conference on Thursday, the EDGE managing executive at GBCSA Graham Cruickshanks said it’s targeting 52 000 green certified homes in the next seven years.
“We are hoping for green certification and green homes to be a norm in South Africa and to be business as usual for developers,” said Cruickshanks.
He said by 2020 the demand for electricity will rise by 46% globally, making the case for going the environmentally sustainable route strong.
The focus for greening homes is mostly for large residential developments –with the roll out free-standing homes, for certification, and less so apartment buildings and single home owner builders. To achieve an EDGE rating, housing units must demonstrate a 20% minimum energy, water and embodied energy savings.
The adoption of sustainable building in the commercial property sector in South Africa has been widely lauded by the international community. A recently published World Green Building Trends 2016 report, compiled by construction group Dodge Data & Analytics, indicates that South Africa has emerged as a leader in green building based on the level of commitments of green projects.
After South Africa’s rapid adoption of green building in the commercial sector, focus shifts to the housing market.
The country has the highest green building share, trumping countries such as the UK and the US, China, Singapore, Germany, and the historical green building market leader Australia. Read more here.
The World Green Building Trends report expects more growth in residential projects in the green building market.
Private residential developers are already getting in green building act. Private equity firm International Housing Solutions (IHS) is forging ahead with its affordable housing development Ravenswood in Kempton Park, Gauteng – which is the first residential project in South Africa to achieve an EDGE design certification by the GBCSA.
The development, which will boast 188 two-bedroom green homes, has demonstrated a projected total savings of 250 000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than 10 000 kilolitres of water annually, in its design. This translates into a saving of almost R600 000 a year or R3 200 in utility costs for each unit by applying EDGE-certified energy efficiency measures.
IHS owns over 8 000 units in the affordable housing market and has a mandate of investing in housing developments that are valued from R400 000 to R700 000.
IHS’ managing director Rob Wesselo said in all its affordable housing projects, the mandate is to make them 20% more efficient from an electricity, water and materials point of view. He stresses going green doesn’t have to be expensive, as simple measures such as using windows that allow for natural light, installing shower heads that conserve water and using clay instead of cement bricks can cut development costs.
Green features at Ravenswood will include the use of solar hot water collectors, efficient water usage through the installation of smart meters, roof insulation to ensure optimal energy efficiency, and more.