The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has announced that the Fourleaf Estate residential development in Port Elizabeth is the first residential project in Africa to meet the EDGE resource-efficiency standard and receive EDGE final certification. The development is led by property development and marketing company, Similan, and funded by the Housing Impact Fund of South Africa (HIFSA), managed by the Development Impact Funds team within Old Mutual Alternative Investments.
“As the fund manager for this project, Old Mutual is delighted to be at the forefront of green housing developments by bringing the first EDGE-certified residential project to the market in Africa. Sustainability is high on the agenda of our clients. As fund managers, we can provide a tangible indicator of green environmental performance by encouraging EDGE certification on our housing developments,” says Lenore Cairncross, who has been leading the EDGE certification process for HIFSA’s new housing developments.
HIFSA has a pipeline of between 2 500 and 3 000 new housing units over the next two to three years that will be designed to meet the EDGE standard and achieve certification. HIFSA aims to deliver a market-related, risk-adjusted return to investors and create new affordable housing stock to address the housing shortage. Old Mutual Life Assurance Company South Africa is co-invested in HIFSA alongside the Government Employees Pension Fund (managed by the Public Investment Corporation), the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Eskom Pension Fund.
EDGE (“Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies”) is a green building certification system for emerging markets created by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. EDGE is a measurable way for residential developers to optimize the performance of their building design and be rewarded for resource efficiency through certification. The Green Building Council of South Africa is the exclusive certification services provider for IFC within the country.
The EDGE rating requires achieving savings of 20% in each of the three categories: operational energy and water usage and a reduction in the embodied energy of materials used in the project’s construction.
Fourleaf Estate delivers significant energy savings to its residents through such practical solutions as heat pumps for hot water, low-flow taps (which reduce hot water consumption through aeration), and the installation of water-efficient fittings such as low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets. Reduced window-to-wall ratios and roof insulation ensure optimal energy efficiency. When operated by residents in the way intended, this combination of factors will translate into annual utility bill savings of around R1280 per unit.
Embodied energy refers to the amount of energy expended and greenhouse gas emissions generated in the extraction, production, transport and installation of materials used for construction. The EDGE App uses sophisticated global data, localized to the South African context, which considers common industry practice in material production and supply to predict the embodied energy associated with the major construction specifications on a build. Fourleaf was able to achieve 34% and 43% savings respectively in each of the unit types by using cored bricks, cellulose roof insulation and clay roofing tiles on timber rafters, and other initiatives.
Grahame Cruickshanks, Managing Executive: Residential at the GBCSA, says that awarding the first EDGE final certification in South Africa is a significant milestone, not just for the GBCSA and its partners in the programme, but for the South African residential property sector and its journey towards becoming more sustainable. “What sets EDGE apart is that it is comparatively simple to use and certification is affordable, making it invaluable to developers looking for smart and effective ways to differentiate their product in a tough economic climate. EDGE offers occupants utility cost savings, whilst also tackling important environmental issues.”
Ecolution Consulting, the EDGE auditors for the Fourleaf project, ensured that all criteria were met in order to achieve certification. “We believe that EDGE will transform the residential market by embedding sustainability at its core,” says André Harms, director of Ecolution Consulting and an EDGE Expert. “We are proud to have played a vital role in the first EDGE final certification in Africa.”
According to Similan, Fourleaf is predicted to realise annual savings of R414 000 by applying EDGE-certified energy and water efficiency measures. This would translate into anticipated savings of approximately R1 280 in utility costs for each unit. “By using the EDGE App, annual savings of 123 230 kWH of electricity and more than 7 500 Kl of water have been projected for the Fourleaf project,” explains Pieter du Toit, Development Manager at Similan. The current market motivates Similan to continually look for ways that will result in immediate and future cost savings for home owners, so designing sustainable homes is one of their key goals. By adding small technologies such as low-flow faucets and showerheads, Similan is able to make a big difference in the lives of their customers.
Located in the Parsonsvlei suburb of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, the first phase of the Fourleaf Estate residential development brings 125 two and three-bedroom green homes to the South Africa property market, which range in size from 47m² to 90m².
Globally, IFC’s aim is to transform 20% of new residential and commercial building in rapidly-industrialising countries by 2020, driven by local green building councils and global certification providers. In South Africa this 20% target translates to approximately 50 000 homes by 2020, an ambitious goal which GBCSA is actively pursuing.