There is no longer any excuse for not going green – or at least partially green - when it comes to developing, or building, new buildings. It can be done without having to sell the family farm, said Org Geldenhuys, managing director of property developing and marketing company, Abacus Divisions.
“Going green shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Many low cost green features can be incorporated – and can muster short payback periods for the developers.”
Geldenhuys said there are a number of basic pointers that, if followed, will enable property developers to go green, without paying exorbitant prices – and without developing a “full blown green building”.
Among the things to be considered is the installation of a solar geyser, which would cost around R12 000 – R20 000. Other aspects to consider would the installation of an under counter geyser at a cost of R2000, compact florescent lights and LED lights – with occupancy and presence sensing features. This, said Geldenhuys, will cost less than R 1000 per unit, and is “well worth the while”.
“These are all low cost interventions that, if implemented, can put developers on the road to going green – without having to sell the family farm.”
Commenting further, Geldenhuys said electricity costs to operate a standard office building can roughly be divided up to 60% HVAC (air conditioners) – then 20-30% coming from lighting and balance computers and printers – and other low emission equipment.
“In order to get the maximum benefit from green installation one needs to do lights and HVAC together. Additionally, full-on green aircon systems such as VRV is very expensive and costly to install. The additional problem here is that retrofit would be almost impossible to justify the costs.
“A relatively low cost solution, however, would be to consider occupancy and presence sensing via sensors - and basically just switch off air conditioning units and lights if no one is working in the office. This,” said Geldenhuys, “can be very effective and costs of R 1000, or less, per sensor installed will offer huge savings and payback within months – and savings for years to come.
“Another relatively cheap intervention would be timers on air conditioners, which could be programmed to start an hour later in the morning and cut power an hour earlier in the afternoons. That would save an estimated 25% of operational costs for air conditioners, while having almost no noticeable impact on office workers.
“Water can also be saved by designing and planting garden plants that do not need any water other than occasional rain water. Examples of this,” explained Geldenhuys, “would be succulents, ivy and aloes. There is no need to splash out on expensive rainwater harvesting systems, tanks and pumps. Going green is more about an attitude and a willingness to make a difference – and a desire to save money, rather than having big budgets and deep pockets.”