Green is good for planet and for property
Environment-friendly homes offer financial and resale benefits
POWER outages in recent years and the drought have seen more people looking at going green by retrofitting or building in energy- efficient and water-saving devices.
Solar power, geyser timers, boreholes, rainwater tanks, water-wise gardens and artificial lawns are among the most common features they are introducing to their properties to counter increases in electricity and water costs.
Property experts believe that while people adopting such measures are cutting costs and making a difference to the environment, they also stand to benefit when the time comes for them to sell or let their homes.
“I believe over the next decade we will see the demand for properties which protect and promote biodiversity and incorporate green features increasing exponentially,” says Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, whose company has undertaken a number of powerful green initiatives.
One is research with the Green Building Council of South Africa which found, among other things, that some estate agents report that the installation of rain collection tanks is on the rise, and a useful selling point.
The research also pointed to a positive premium in the sales price of green homes, which increased with the degree of energy efficiency, ongoing energy price increases and the potential for green building regulation.
There is also evidence to show a rental premium applies, with green buildings proving more attractive to tenants.
Anthony Stroebel, head of strategy and innovation at Pam Golding Properties and a director of the Green Building Council, says there “is a rising groundswell in what individuals can do to help conserve our planet. Each of us has a role to play in making a contribution to conserve and maintain our natural resources and key biodiversity assets. This now makes great financial sense”.
He says the Green Building Council has seen the commercial green buildings market
grow exponentially year on year, and it is expected the residential market will behave similarly but with a steeper trajectory.
Agreeing, Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa, says a study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders showed that, apart from a safe neighbourhood, the factor that influenced home-buying decisions most was a property’s energy efficiency.
Items such as solar panels have become increasingly popular as the energy-efficient movement gains momentum in South Africa. Installing solar panels will, for example, reduce a household’s electricity bill by up to 75%.
“Using power generated from the sun will reduce the amount of electricity drawn from the main power grid, which will reduce the household’s utility bill. In most cases, solar panel systems save between 50% and 75% of an electricity bill.”
But Goslett says while solar panels have become more affordable over the years, the initial installation costs can be expensive.
“It takes time for the system to pay itself off, typically around seven years.”
Maintenance of the systems also comes at additional costs, he warns.
Despite this there are many benefits to adding energy-efficient elements including protection from power outages and serious droughts.
“Energy-efficient elements add value to a home, and a large percentage of the initial outlay of such elements is recouped when the property is sold.
“According to the National Association of Home Buyers, around 61% of buyers would be prepared to pay an additional R50 000 to R100 000 on a property that has features to reduce utility costs,” says Goslett.
Young buyers in particular are showing “a lot of interest” in homes with sustainable energy solutions and environment-friendly energies, says Richard Gray, chief executive at Harcourts Africa.
Pam Golding Properties are marketing homes in the eco-friendly Springerbaai Coastal Estate near Mossel Bay.