‘Green’ trends begin to hit home
Lea Jacobs discusses green trends and the impact that these are beginning to have on South African properties
GOING green has moved on from sorting out the rubbish and recycling the odd can. These days the concept has started to take off in a big way and people who are determined to do their bit to save the planet have become far more concerned about the way they live and what they live in.
Essentially homeowners are far more educated in global warming and other factors that impact the planet. Rising costs in basic services have also played a role and solar geyser water catchment systems have become a common sight in suburbs around SA. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg and there is a growing trend amongt homebuilders to build “green” homes that will not only save them money in the long term, but will also hhelp to preserve the environment.
It appears that although the trend to build eco-friendly houses rests with upmarket investors, the lower segments of the property market are certainly not sitting back idly. Faced with rises in basic services tariffs, many homeowners are looking at ways of conserving energy and have adopted many of the systems that have been in use in colder climates around the world for years.
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, recently noted that cost-saving green trends were driving demand and as such were adding value to property. He said that a recent survey conducted in the US during 2010 by the National Association of Realtors indicated that environmentally-friendly features remain a significant factor, with 88% of buyers saying that heating and cooling costs were important, while 71% desired energy-efficient appliances and 69% wanted energy-efficient lighting.
The need to conserve is beginning to hit home and judging by the increasing number of “green” properties that are coming on the market, it is a trend that is set to continue. It is not only the residential sector that has changed its mindset. Commercial property is also coming under the eco spotlight. Colin Anderson, a director with the Rabie Property Group, says that the new buzzword in the commercial property market is “Green Buildings”. He says that if one considers what is happening internationally, then one has to assume that it is only a matter of time before the trend becomes the norm in SA.
It is, however, on the residential side that things are really beginning to happen with architects mindful of the environmental needs of their clients. Pam Golding Properties have listed a home on the Pezulu Estate in Kynsna that has been designed to not only maximise the exceptional views on offer, but also endorses a truly green lifestyle.
”Priced at R15,9m, the technology certainly doesn’t come cheap. However, the price includes features such as a hot water and ducted air conditioning system that uses a heat pump system to heat or cools the air. Similarly, another property in the area has been designed to allow natural sunlight to penetrate deep into the building. The house that is on the market for R15m is equipped with hydraulic underfloor heating that is controlled by a centralised solar heat pump. In addition, sewage is collected in an on-site, underground system that converts the effluent into clean, re-usable water which is then used to irrigate the indigenous garden.
Price it seems is not the major concern of investors who want to do their bit for the environment. Goslett says that research indicates that in general, US homebuyers are willing to pay between 11% and 25% more for green homes. The demand for green homes in the US is expected to rise 900% over the next five years — an industry increase from $2bn to over $200bn.
“In tough economic times, buyers are looking for efficiency and quality and over the past three years the US market share of certified green homes has grown despite the economic challenges it has faced. Energy-efficient and healthier homes continue to gain more attention and of the new homes sold in the US during 2009-2010, almost 25% were green homes,” says Goslett.
One house that ticks all the right boxes on the green front is currently being marketed by Jawitz Properties. Situated in Caledon in the Cape, the home has been built using a sandbag method.
Michelle Wessels, the Jawitz agent who is marketing the home, says that the advantages of this construction method are numerous and include the use of unskilled labour as well as the speed of construction and saving on building materials. She says that services such as electric conduits and plumbing are simply laid amongst the sandbags. Another advantage is the flexibility of window and door positioning compared to other prefabricated construction methods.
Building with sandbags is, of course, nothing new. However, a recent innovation has been the development and design of sandbag construction homes using a registered concept called Eco-Beam, which was developed and patented by Mike Tremeer.
This prefabricated beam, used to construct the wall frames, is manufactured from 300mm wide timber and galvanised steel lattice reinforced frames. Specially designed bags are filled with sand and packed in and against the frames. The walls are then covered with chicken wire mesh and plastered or finished as for timberframe construction.
The owner’s brief required a gothic roof with double volume in the living area, allowing one to enjoy a view of the roof construction as a feature.
The hardwood Victorian sash windows and ‘happy doors’ were chosen to complete the rural feel of the house. He suggested having the double doors made to form stable doors, which greatly assists ventilation. The owner is also very impressed with the thermal insulation afforded by the sandbag construction method and thickness of the walls. Contact: Jawitz Properties Michelle Wessels 082 943 5915
This ‘green’ home situated in Caledon, Cape Town, which was built using a sandbag method, is on the market through Jawitz Properties for R1,3m.