NGO Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is rolling out a South African online tool to provide green certification for residential buildings, after it successfully piloted in a new Boksburg residential development. Using the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) online grading system, local developers can now build sustainable new homes.

In addition to an electricity crisis and pressure on water resources, South Africa is among the world’s top 20 countries in terms of high CO2 emissions. Greening homes in the design and building stage ultimately saves on a homeowner’s running costs.

EDGE designer Prashant Kapoor is a green building specialist for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), who is in local partnership with GBSCA. “One of the challenges, even if a client or home-owner wants to go green, is to know what works in terms of materials and energy-efficient equipment. For example, having less glass in a building is energy-efficient and costs less, particularly in an office,” says Kapoor.

“So as a homeowner you need to work out what makes a difference in how you construct your building and what you’re comparing yourself against. Our software allows you to input your country, type of building, income group and room sizes, and to personalise the requirements of your future home.”

South Africa is one of 80 countries where the tool has been launched. International Housing Solutions (IHS) partners with financial institutions and property developers to provide equity finance for the affordable housing market. IHS spokesperson Myles Kritzinger sees huge potential for the low to middle-income property market in established residential suburbs.

How it works

A residential builder or developer registers online with GBSCA. The EDGE program provides an energy efficiency measure of whether you meet required energy standards, and where you can make changes. The process involves preliminary design certification, and as-built certification – for a new home to be EDGE-certified, minimum savings of 20% in water, energy and embodied energy-use are required. These range from energy-saving light bulbs, solar geysers and installing ceiling fans in habitable rooms, to the types of bricks used.

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GBCSA chief executive officer Brian Wilkinson says professionals can apply the tool to new freestanding homes, flats or townhouses. “Most importantly, for a home occupier it provides an assurance that the building has been constructed with energy-efficiency, water-efficiency and material efficiency in mind. If I’m paying less for electricity and water, it means I have more disposable income. It’s also about moral balance sheets – aligning how I live with an interest in sustainability.”

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Ravenswood in Boksburg is the first local residential development to secure EDGE green certification, with planned occupation in July 2016. Ravenswood’s sectional title low-to-middle income homes of 34m2 to 68m2 would sell for R400,000 to R700,000 a unit, but IHS acquired all 188 two-bedroom and one-bathroom green homes from RPP Developments as rental stock. Two other developments with EDGE certification are Glenhaven in Bellville, and Clubview in Centurion.

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“The EDGE design rating of the Ravenswood project brings total savings annually of 250,000kWh electricity and more than 10,000kl water. EDGE helped us crunch the numbers to reveal the most affordable path to building green,” says Kritzinger.

Training for EDGE-accredited professionals starts in November 2015. Book online.

The EDGE green building tool is on gbcsa.org.za.

Kim Maxwell
Photos: Supplied

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