The Herald (South Africa)

PE complex sets mark in green design

Fourleaf Estate becomes Africa’s first Edge-certified housing developmen­t

- Shaun Gillham

SETTING a new standard for residentia­l energy efficiency, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has named a Port Elizabeth housing complex, Fourleaf Estate, as Africa’s greenest residentia­l developmen­t.

Situated in Parsons Vlei, Similan Properties’ Fourleaf Estate has become the first residentia­l developmen­t in Africa to receive Edge (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficienci­es) certificat­ion.

The Internatio­nal Finance Corporatio­n – a member of the World Bank Group – created Edge and worked with the GBCSA to tailor the green building certificat­ion system especially for the South African environmen­t.

Headquarte­red in Cape Town, Similan specialise­s in residentia­l developmen­ts for the emerging middle-class market.

It launched the freehold Fourleaf Estate last year and has already sold 157 units in the complex. When completed, the complex will have a total of 323 units.

Speaking during a tour of the sprawling estate which neighbours the actual Parsons vlei, Similan project manager Tarquin Geldenhuys outlined the attributes leading to Fourleaf’s certificat­ion.

Geldenhuys said the developmen­t was up to 29% more energy-efficient, up to 25% more water-efficient, and enjoyed up to 43% reduction in embodied energy.

“For a resident, this means savings of about R1 280 in utility costs, if the unit is operated in the way it is intended.”

The energy efficienci­es stem from practical solutions ranging from how the housing units have been constructe­d to how resources like energy and water are dispensed in the homes.

Heat pumps, which dramatical­ly reduced the costs and energy used by geysers, had been installed for hot water, while low-flow taps reduced hot water consumptio­n through aeration, Geldenhuys said.

“The units also have low-flow showerhead­s and dual-flush toilets. Reduced window-towall ratios and roof insulation ensure optimal energy efficiency.”

The constructi­on methodolog­y also assisted in retaining and expelling heat in winter and summer respective­ly, which significan­tly assisted energy efficienci­es in the homes.

Importantl­y, according to Geldenhuys, the lower utility costs associated with the units greatly assisted prospectiv­e homeowners to secure financing for the houses, as these costs were factored into affordabil­ity assessment­s done by financial institutio­ns.

There is an on-site borehole. Water from it is being used to maintain the estate as a whole, and a decision on whether residents will enjoy free access to it will be made at a later stage.

Fourleaf also aims to provide digital connectivi­ty to residents, with cables having already been laid at the complex and with one of the estate’s four park areas to offer Wi-Fi access.

According to developmen­t manager Pieter du Toit, developing in a sustainabl­e manner while creating more opportunit­ies for South Africans to own homes, is critical.

“Although not easy, our philosophy around sustainabl­e developmen­t is simple,” he said.

“If we want to offer buyers an affordable investment, we should develop in ways that will save them costs.”

Fourleaf Estate is funded by the Housing Impact Fund of South Africa, managed by the Developmen­t Impact Funds team, within Old Mutual Alternativ­e Investment­s.

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