Advice and Opinion

More consumers look to adopt a wide variety of energy efficient habits

Pam Golding Properties are marketing homes in eco-friendly Springerbaai Coastal Estate near Mossel Bay. Priced at R2.73 million, this four bedroom, four bathroom home includes a large open plan lounge and flowing living space ideal for entertaining, as well as sweeping views across the fynbos to the ocean.
Pam Golding Properties are marketing homes in eco-friendly Springerbaai Coastal Estate near Mossel Bay. Priced at R2.73 million, this four bedroom, four bathroom home includes a large open plan lounge and flowing living space ideal for entertaining, as well as sweeping views across the fynbos to the ocean.

The rolling power outages experienced in recent years coupled with the crippling drought – the effects of which are still evident in the critical water shortage in the Western Cape, have seen a growing number of consumers look to install and adopt a wide variety of energy and water saving devices.

Solar power, geyser timers, boreholes, rainwater harvesting, water-wise gardens and artificial lawn, among others are becoming increasingly common features in residential property, further fueled by the relentlessly rising costs of electricity and water which are draining the pockets of economically constrained consumers.

But while more and more people are investing in a variety of means aimed at conserving our natural resources and reducing monthly municipal tariffs, at what point do these become imperatives which impact favourably on the value of a home and the demand for such sustainable homes among home buyers?

These are questions being investigated by Pam Golding Properties, which has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the awareness of the benefits of homes which are not only environmentally friendly but also cost efficient.

Says Anthony Stroebel, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Pam Golding Properties and a director of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA): “There is a rising groundswell in what we as individuals can do to help conserve our planet. Each and every one of us has a role to play in making a contribution to conserve and maintain our natural resources and our key biodiversity assets. But, as importantly, this now makes great financial sense”.

“As key participants in residential real estate we believe we have both a responsibility and an opportunity to play a role in promoting resource efficiency and in so doing, help lead transformation in this regard. Apart from the cumulative benefits of conserving the planet’s natural resources by reducing our environmental impact, this in turn translates into actual cost savings for consumers and ultimately, raises the potential for increased investment returns for home owners when they sell the property, or even increased monthly income in regard to rental property.”

Says Dr Andrew Golding, CE of the Pam Golding Property group: “As marketers of real estate around South and Southern  Africa and in support of the greater ‘Green Agenda’, we appreciate that every home either positively or negatively impacts the overall sustainability of our future social development”.

“Aside from the long-term vision required to protect life on our planet, we recognise the responsible behaviour of the growing number of conscious consumers who are undoubtedly reshaping the future economic worth of almost everything. From water bottles to rocket fuel, perceived value has shifted, and this without doubt includes the future value of the home”.

“For us, as estate agents armed with information that has been brought to light by our expert the National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) partners like the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, we intend to use any influence we may have within the vast residential property sector to reduce the footprint on biodiversity, home by home”.

“I believe over the next decade we will see the demand for properties which protect and promote biodiversity and incorporate green features will increase exponentially.”

As a starting point, and given the lack of credible research in South Africa regarding the potential for ‘green’ engagement in the residential sector, Pam Golding Properties and GBCSA have undertaken pioneering research which points decisively to a positive green premium in the sales price of green homes, which increases with the degree of energy efficiency, ongoing energy price increases and the potential for green building regulation. There is also some evidence to show that a rental premium applies, with green buildings proving more attractive to tenants.

The research says estate agents and valuers are key to the establishment of a green homes market as they evaluate and make recommendations to the residential market on the contribution resource-efficient features add to the marketing of green homes. Some estate agents are already reporting that the installation of rain collection tanks is on the rise, and proving useful selling points.

The GBCSA saw the commercial green buildings market grow exponentially year on year and it is expected that the residential market will behave similarly but with a steeper trajectory. While Green Star rated office space is recognised and established for offering buyers and tenants a differentiated value proposition associated with higher quality and lower operating costs, GBCSA’s EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) rating for homes, is a tangible tool that can demonstrate savings and provide a credible measure of future payback which will drive the value of green homes.  Available via a free online software platform, this simple yet tangible, user-friendly green rating tool aims to achieve a minimum saving of 20 percent in energy, water and embodied energy in materials. Smart, fast and affordable, it calculates the upfront cost and potential operational savings of green buildings.

EDGE certification and green home features are predicted to be added as a valuable property attribute as the research shows that green homes are perceived to be of higher quality with more efficient running costs. The appeal of resource-efficient homes is multi-dimensional, offering residents a variety of benefits including enhanced comfort and quality of life and financial savings.

A further initiative is the recently launched and useful ‘Guide to Biodiversity in your Garden’ produced by Pam Golding Properties and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. This well-timed booklet is an informative and useful guide brimming with eco-friendly advice. Among many others this includes cost-effective water-wise gardening, how to identify and deal with alien and invasive plant species, combating fruit and vegetable eating insects the natural way, making your own compost and mulch and even tips on earthworm farming and vertical landscaping.

It also explains how gardening according to your own regional climate and soil type is an important key to a successful, indigenous garden which can be both beautiful and eco-efficient.

“The spirit of biodiversity and the conservation and protection of animals and plants is rapidly gaining traction among individual citizens and the business sector alike,” says Stroebel. “As a founding partner of the National Biodiversity and Business Network we are helping drive innovations and leadership to change the way biodiversity is perceived and to develop accountability for its protection”.

“Importantly, this inspiring and insightful guide outlines a few simple ways you can add value to your property by protecting and encouraging nature’s life-giving biodiversity in your very own garden. With this guide we hope to support home owners in understanding and achieving their potential role in preserving and enhancing the diversity value of their property, ultimately adding value to their asset and to the natural capital of the country.”

Pam Golding Properties also recently sponsored the Eco-Angel Award at the Eco-Logic Awards 2017, an annual event presented by Enviropaedia as a celebration of the visionaries and innovators – or ‘eco-heroes’ – who are finding solutions to the earth’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The Eco-Angel award was presented to Nonhlanhla Joye of Umgibe Organics and Training Institute, which uses ordinary plastic bags to create suspended vegetable gardens that hang from custom-made structures. It’s a home grown solution for food production in a changing environmental landscape and a farming technique that has proven to be a frugal, environmentally friendly, water and space saving method that has uplifted the community.

This stroke of genius came from a dark place in Joye’s life – she was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t work but as the breadwinner had to put food on the table, so she started growing her own vegetables, and elevated her plants to keep out the chickens.

The system is able to grow ten times the crops in the same area as conventional agriculture, with less than a third of the water required. The operation has now grown to the stage where she supplies restaurant groups and even supermarket groups.