Pioneers for sustainable urban regeneration

11th June 2021 By: Claire O'Reilly

An urgent shift from traditional market practice towards the ‘green industrial revolution’ is underway, hence specialised commercial property financial services company TUHF’s advocating for the following of green and sustainable building principles in the construction and building industries.

TUHF finances green inner-city buildings for entrepreneurs, helping transform the inner-city landscape through supporting the shift to green assets that are more water and energy efficient – increasing the availability of affordable accommodation – and, thereby, contributing to multi-sectorial and inclusive socioeconomic development.

A branch of TUHF, TUHF21 financial analyst Sqiniseko Mbatha highlights that building green is becoming exceedingly more economical and feasible as market demands grow in parallel with expanding environmental awareness.

Over the past five years, the green consumable market in South Africa has grown “tremendously” and is still growing, with increased competition among suppliers of solar panels, light-emitting diode lighting and heat pumps, for example.

Consequently, green consumables are readily available, which, in turn, is driving costs down, with the return-on-investment benefits of incorporating green technology becoming clearer, he says.

“Making buildings energy efficient and reliant on renewable energy mitigates the possibility of residential rental housing affordability being undermined by the unpredictable inflation of utility tariff hikes. Using green assets is an attempt to stimulate urban regeneration,” he explains, commenting that, since 2009, electricity prices in South Africa have increased by 333%.

Whether it be a new building or an existing building awaiting conversion, TUHF targets three areas of improvement – achieving at least 25% to 30% less energy and water consumption, and carbon emissions, in any building project the company is working on as part of TUHF21’s Luhlaza initiative, says Mbatha.

The larger TUHF group, a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa, does not approve any project that does not demonstrate a social, sustainable and economically uplifting impact.

The company raises funds through capital markets, providing for property entrepreneurs who redevelop buildings in urban areas into affordable rental housing.

“We help many people who banks have turned away to start a business in property rental using capital markets to address financial inclusion through our sustainable bond framework,” Mbatha tells Engineering News.

Metamorphosising into a green city and enabling inclusive growth and transformation could result from the transformation of Johannesburg’s derelict buildings, are “not generating an income for anybody”, into buildings of purpose, he concludes.