The value of sustainability is fast becoming a bottom-line issue for every commercial enterprise, a place where conscience and profit meet. Clear evidence of this is the eco-friendly home, where property developers and architects have realised that sustainable design is the new ultimate deluxe amenity in today’s luxury properties.
While the topic is huge, in its simplest form it makes sense that the issue of protecting the planet starts at home, and should surely impact the reaction to a property for sale.
The real estate industry agrees.
“Whether simply using up-cycled materials imaginatively, or the best of cutting edge technology, we have noticed that when we list a property that ticks an ‘eco-luxury box’ – the attention it receives in both the marketplace and media is significant,” says Anthony Stroebel, Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) board member and Head of Strategy for the Pam Golding Property Group.
So, from the early days of simply heating up our geysers using solar panels, the options for off-the-grid interventions, which range from no-cost to significant investments for ultimate saving, seem to have exploded.
Designer savings that start on the drawing board
In the luxury home sector, saving often begins at the drawing board with astute developers, architects and homeowners agreeing on the following most common sustainability investments.
Locally-produced building materials: these produce a lower carbon footprint as opposed to imported options that travel great distances to find their final homes.
Designing with climates in mind: high ceilings are dictating ceiling volume, not only as a statement of luxury, but as a natural way to keep buildings cool in hotter climates.
Solar interventions to replace geysers: an intervention like a solar water heater can take up to six years to pay for itself, but can also save up to 60% of the electricity bill for most of the year when the sun is doing the work, at no cost.
Heating for homes in the shade: heat pumps for water are also a worthwhile consideration and use less than half the electricity of the average geyser, generally paying for themselves within 24 months.
Guilt-free pools: according to the GBCSA, one of the smartest and simplest investments to make is to install a variable-speed pool pump that, at its lowest speed, only uses 150w-300w.
Temperature controls: astute developers are planning for temperature control upfront with ceiling insulation that serves homeowners through both warmer and cooler seasons, closed combustion fireplaces, and ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
Energy-efficient appliances: dual-flushing toilets and gas stoves are fast becoming favoured options.
Smart technology: finally, switch off and turn down from anywhere in the world, by simply using your phone – this must be one of the ultimate eco-friendly luxuries.
By all accounts it seems that green features will become standard attributes on property listings of the future, and hopefully even begin to influence the mortgage lending criteria of financial institutions, concludes Stroebel.
This article was published in partnership with Pam Golding Properties.