Sustainability is the way of the future. We look at what developers are doing to ensure greener residential developments
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Technology, innovation and sustainability will be key drivers for value in the future, according to a PWC report for asset managers released recently. The Real Estate 2020 – Building the Future publication notes that high energy prices, climate change and government regulations are already pushing sustainability up the real estate agenda. In addition, they expect that alignment of costs between improving buildings’ environmental performance and application of technological innovations such as solar panels, will accelerate the greening of buildings – something future buyers and residents will not only demand but pay a premium for.
The authors predict that all buildings in advanced economies will need to have sustainability ratings. Green spaces, good air quality, and areas for social gathering will be crucial considerations. “Retrofitting existing buildings to improve their performance is expensive, but what will happen to their value if this is not done? And will the premium for sustainable buildings continue to rise, or is there a danger of a green bubble? There’s likely to be far more emphasis on the whole life value of an asset. In future, sustainable buildings will drive higher rental rates and conversely erode values, if technology adaptation does not keep pace,” the report says.
Builders today should focus primarily on adopting efficient principles to reduce the energy required to heat or cool a building, says Walter Panto, sales executive, Zotos Construction. This will lessen the need to utilise existing resources that burn fossil fuels and thus reduce the carbon footprint these fuels release. “Using alternative energy sources like the sun or the wind is the smarter way to build. Saving our natural resources will ensure a sustainable future for generations to come,” says Panto.
Insulation, orientation and massing also play a vital role in helping to reduce heat loss or gain. “Proper insulation of the floor slabs and the roof, as well as the use of high-performance glazing, greatly assist in trapping the heat in winter and expelling heat in summer. Also, ensuring the house has a northerly orientation and using its mass or shape to provide shading, is a simple, cost-effective way to achieve an energy-efficient green home,” says Panto.
Several South African developments with sustainability in common won recognition at the 2020/2021 Arabia and Africa Property Awards, which form part of the annual International Property Awards. For 25 years, these have rewarded the efforts of property developers who have impacted the lives of millions of people and are testament to their hard work and dedication. Addressing award winners virtually, Maggie Henriquez, CEO, House of Krug, says, “You do first, unique and different, and this is why you have received your award… The property award is given to those who are brave, who dare, and who come with something amazingly different.”
A notch ahead of the rest in terms of the regional awards, Balwin Properties was the only South African company to feature by winning the International Social Housing award for Greenlee in Johannesburg. Greenlee incorporates WiFi ready apartments with solar supplemented electricity plus prepaid electricity and water metres. Legaro Property Development won Best Residential Development awards for 38 Morsim as well as The Emerald Hyde Park in Johannesburg. Completed in collaboration with Daffonchio & Associates Architects, these are EDGE-rated (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) and feature solar power generation, among other sustainable design components.
The Azure, Camps Bay, by Horizon Capital won an award for Best Residential Property. The seaside project combines simplicity and sophistication, relaxation and urbanity. At the heart of each of the four homes is a water-wise garden or courtyard. The Azure also has an independent borehole water supply, water purification plant, HydraTherm integrated heat pump for hot water supply, solar-heated swimming pools with automated pool covers, water efficient sanitary fittings, low voltage LED lighting, subsurface drip irrigation to all manicured gardens, and a pool backwash tank to recycle pool water.
“At Rabie, it’s a fundamental principle that we develop more than just bricks and mortar,” says Rabie Property Group director Mariska Auret. “We aim to drive future-focused innovation and world-class design principles. Top of mind is that we not only uplift the neighbourhoods and precincts we develop, but that we act responsibly in terms of the environment and provide unique locations for businesses to thrive in.”
Rabie is proud to have developed six 5-Star Green Star-rated buildings and seven 4-Star Green Star-rated buildings at Century City in Cape Town. At its mixed-use development under construction, Bridgewater One, they are aiming for a 4-star Green Star-rating for design. This development comprises a hotel, apartments and three office components as well as a small portion of retail. In 2014, Century City Square, which comprises five buildings, was awarded the first mixed use rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa and has been registered with the GBCSA as a pilot project for a new mixed use rating tool.
Eco home loans
Meanwhile, Balwin CEO Steve Brookes has partnered with Absa to co-create a green mortgage product. Qualifying homebuyers can now get a reduced interest rate on their mortgages at Polofields in Waterfall, The Reid, Johannesburg, and The Blyde in Pretoria. “We knew that a green mortgage would benefit our joint customers,” says Brookes. “When we realised that certification was the key to making it work, it blew us off our chairs.”
Nonetheless, Brookes went all out to have his homes certified with EDGE by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA). The homes are clustered around lifestyle centres, which have received the council’s highest 6-star rating from its own certification system. Absa’s favourable rate has no direct financial gain for Balwin. Brookes views the eco home loan purely as a mechanism to achieve an improved living standard for his customers. What’s more, his green homes didn’t cost more to build. “Extra costs are minute if you’re an astute developer,” says Brookes. “We’re also keeping the architects on their toes. They need to put their energy into creating a better living environment.”