The innovation that has been working quietly in the background for some years aiding the cost-effective, simple and fast certification of the residential green building sector was profiled at Drivelines Studios, on Friday.
In a breakthrough in the South African market, EDGE, an International Finance Corporation- (IFC-) developed software-based green building certification system, aims to assist developers and financiers to capitalise on the value of certified green homes.
At the EDGE event, in Maboneng, Johannesburg, on Friday, IFC South Africa EDGE programme lead Lenore Cairncross told Engineering News Online that there is a solid business case for developers, investors, financial institutions and potential home owners to invest in green residential buildings.
At the early developmental stage, the EDGE software allows designers to assess resource efficiency levels during the design and construction of new homes, of various energy and water saving options and alternative materials.
Meanwhile, EDGE certification could also enable financial institutions to structure “green mortgage” finance options for homebuyers, which, in turn, could incentivise consumer uptake of green homes, as it will be more cost-effective in terms of energy and water use.
The IFC is in talks with various banks and financial institutions to develop a green mortgage bond and possibly preferred interest rates, as affordability criteria would be greatly improved with the long-term electricity and water cost savings for consumers.
To achieve the EDGE, or “excellence in design for greater efficiencies”, standard, minimum savings of 20% energy, water and embodied energy in materials must be met.
Partnered with the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), which, together with World Bank Group, brought the EDGE programme to South Africa in 2014, EDGE aims to make it faster, easier and more affordable to “build and brand green”, exposing the opportunities available to build green buildings at minimal extra cost.
GBCSA is currently embarking on a new campaign to showcase the benefits of “smart” EDGE-certified homes to accelerate awareness of both the business and consumer case for green homes.
Various property developers on Friday also spoke about their commitment to going beyond the international standards set by EDGE.
Similan Properties CEO and founder Harold Spies told attendees that the company, which had received the first EDGE certification in South Africa, was committed to thinking long term and that sustainable development was the only way forward for the company.
He noted that sustainable building and materials did not need to cost much more than traditional developments.
Balwin Properties CEO and founder Stephen Brookes agreed, committing his firm to achieving EDGE certification for all its projects going forward.
“If EDGE was around 20 years [ago], a lot of our properties would be more sustainable,” he noted, adding, however, that the future development of green buildings should go beyond the baseline.
“What we found [in applying EDGE principles and green building applications] is that it is a lot easier and more cost-effective than initially projected to develop green, affordable housing,” added International Housing Solutions (IHS) country director Rob Wesselo.
IHS’s first two EDGE-certified developments are currently occupied, with the company monitoring and studying the impact of the installed changes.
Wesselo pointed out that the initial findings were that the benefits were outperforming projections.
Further, Stag African MD John Schooling said “going green” in the development of low-cost student accommodation had actually reduced the company’s operational and capital cost.
“[EDGE] has forced us to think more creatively,” he said, adding that, as the green building approach was refined, companies were becoming more competitive.
EDGE currently operates across 130 countries.