JSE-listed Balwin Properties Limited and Absa Group Limited recently launched South Africa’s first green home loan, the Absa Eco Home Loan.
The announcement follows on Balwin’s EDGE registration in June 2019 of over 16,000 units, a world first. The conceptualisation and launch of the Eco Home Loan is another milestone in the Company’s ongoing commitment to sustainable development and delivering quality green buildings through innovation.
“Balwin Properties is a proudly South African residential development company. We pride ourselves on developing affordable, eco-friendly apartments and strive to be national leaders in building green. Our valued clients reap the benefit of this,” explains Steve Brookes, CEO, and founder of Balwin Properties.
“The idea of a green home loan was inspired by the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Green Bond. I was impressed by how much they have achieved in driving climate-smart investment and saw an opportunity to extend this philosophy to our customers. So, my team and I set out to find a likeminded, innovative partner with the right technical expertise and delivery capabilities to develop such a product. Absa was an obvious choice for us,” Brookes adds.
Geoff Lee, Managing Executive of Absa Home Loans, says “We were very excited when Balwin approached us with this opportunity because the Absa Eco Home Loan is a testament to our commitment to creating products and offerings that are centred on what the customer and the future of residential property needs. We have recognised that sustainable living is a priority for our customers and so it must be a priority for us. As a systemic lender that is committed to Housing the Nation and Shaping the Industry in a Meaningful Way, it is our privilege to be able to contribute to making our society and our sector more sustainable.”
In June 2019 Balwin Properties announced it had registered over 16,000 units across seven of its built-to sell and three of its green developments rated as EDGE certified by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA). The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, confirmed that Balwin Properties’ EDGE registration of over 16,000 units was a global first, covering more homes than any single property developer in the world to date. EDGE certification for new homes is implemented in South Africa by GBCSA in partnership with IFC.
“Over the years we have introduced several innovations to make our developments more energy efficient, helping our customers manage their carbon footprint while reducing the burden of the cost of energy. Now our customers can apply for an Absa Eco Home Loan, an added benefit of purchasing an EDGE certified Balwin Properties home,” continues Brookes.
IFC was one of the earliest issuers of green bonds, launching a Green Bond programme in 2010 to help catalyse the market and unlock investment for private sector projects that support renewable energy and energy efficiency. An innovation of the IFC, EDGE was created to respond to the need for a measurable solution to prove the financial case for building green, and to help jumpstart the proliferation of green buildings. The EDGE standard is set at a minimum of 20% reduction across energy consumption, water usage and embodied energy in materials.
“The release of the Absa Eco Home Loan is an exciting first step towards increasing accessibility to green homes. This is one of the most important catalysts for green homes since the launch of the EDGE rating tool in 2015,” adds Grahame Cruickshanks, Managing Executive for Market Engagement at GBCSA.
“Using the EDGE software, we now have a cost-effective planning tool that helps us build green based on occupant behaviour, building type and the local climate. Importantly, EDGE registration provides our environmentally conscious buyers and tenants with the assurance that they are minimising their own environmental footprint whilst saving on utility costs over the long term. Absa’s Eco Home Loan enhances the benefits of EDGE certification by lowering the cost of finance for our customers,” concludes Brookes.