Africa’s first residential development to receive EDGE final certification

Fourleaf Estate in Parsonsvlei, Port Elizabeth is the first residential development in South Africa to be EDGE certified by the GBCSA.

The project is up to 29% more energy efficient; up to 25% more water efficient and boasts up to 43% reduction in the energy used to make construction materials

Fourleaf Estate in Port Elizabeth is the first residential project in Africa to meet the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) resource-efficiency standard and receive EDGE final certification from the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA).

The estate is in Parsonsvlei, PE, and the first phase of the development consists of 125 two and three-bedroom homes ranging in size from 47m² to 90m².

The development is led by property development and marketing company, Similan, and funded by the Housing Impact Fund of South Africa (HIFSA), managed by the Development Impact Funds team within Old Mutual Alternative Investments.

“Sustainability is high on the agenda of our clients,” says Lenore Cairncross, who has been leading the EDGE certification process for HIFSA’s new housing developments.

“As a fund manager, HIFSA can provide a tangible indicator of green environmental performance by encouraging EDGE certification on our housing developments.

HIFSA has a pipeline of 2 500 to 3 000 new housing units over the next two to three years that will be designed to meet the EDGE standard and achieve certification. HIFSA aims to deliver a market-related, risk-adjusted return to investors and create new affordable housing stock to address the housing shortage.

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company South Africa is a co-investor in HIFSA alongside the Government Employees Pension Fund (managed by the Public Investment Corporation), the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Eskom Pension Fund.

EDGE is a green building certification system for emerging markets created by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. EDGE is a measurable way for residential developers to optimise the performance of their building design and be rewarded for resource efficiency through certification. The GBCSA is the exclusive certification services provider for IFC in South Africa.

The EDGE rating requires achieving savings of 20% in each of the three categories: operational energy and water usage and a reduction in the embodied energy of materials used in the project’s construction.

“Fourleaf Estate delivers significant energy savings to its residents through practical solutions like heat pumps for hot water, low-flow taps that reduce hot water consumption through aeration, and the installation of water-efficient fittings such as low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets. Reduced window-to-wall ratios and roof insulation ensure optimal energy efficiency. When operated by residents in the way intended, this combination of factors will translate into annual utility bill savings of around R1 280 a unit,” says Grahame Cruickshanks, Managing Executive: Residential at the GBCSA.

“Embodied energy refers to the amount of energy expended and greenhouse gas emissions generated in the extraction, production, transport and installation of materials used for construction. The EDGE App uses sophisticated global data, localised to the SA context, which considers common industry practice in material production and supply to predict the embodied energy associated with the major construction specifications on a build.

“Fourleaf was able to achieve 34% and 43% savings in each of the unit types by using cored bricks, cellulose roof insulation and clay roofing tiles on timber rafters, and other initiatives.”

Cruickshanks says awarding the first EDGE final certification in South Africa is a significant milestone – for the GBCSA and its partners in the programme and for the SA residential property sector and its journey towards becoming more sustainable.

“EDGE apart is comparatively simple to use and certification is affordable, making it invaluable to developers looking for smart and effective ways to differentiate their products in a tough economic climate. EDGE offers occupants utility cost savings, while tackling important environmental issues.”

Ecolution Consulting, the EDGE auditors for the Fourleaf project, ensured that all criteria were met to achieve certification.

“We believe EDGE will transform the residential market by embedding sustainability at its core,” says André Harms, director of Ecolution Consulting and an EDGE expert.

According to Similan, Fourleaf is predicted to realise annual savings of R414 000 by applying EDGE-certified energy and water efficiency measures. This would translate into expected savings of about R1 280 in utility costs for each unit.

“By using the EDGE App, annual savings of 123 230 kWH of electricity and more than 7 500 Kl of water have been projected for the Fourleaf project,” says Similan development manager, Pieter du Toit.

“The current market motivates Similan to continually look for ways that will result in immediate and future cost savings for home owners, so designing sustainable homes is one of our key goals.

Globally, IFC’s aim is to transform 20% of new residential and commercial building in rapidly-industrialising countries by 2020, driven by local green building councils and global certification providers. In SA this 20% target translates to about 50 000 homes by 2020.

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