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Going green makes money sense

The solar energy push is gaining momentum around the world. File picture: Kai Pfaffenbach

The solar energy push is gaining momentum around the world. File picture: Kai Pfaffenbach

Published Oct 15, 2015


Cape Town - Adding on solar panels and replacing garden plants with indigenous ones is the modern equivalents of slapping on a coat of paint and trimming the hedges before listing a property for sale … especially for astute investors.

Pam Golding Properties says the green revolution is starting to make a real difference to sales and rentals values in the residential property market.

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While the revolution might not much more than a green shoot when compared with the commercial property sector, rapid strides in technology and increasing awareness of potential cost savings are making sense to more homeowners and starting to impact on property prices.

Buying a home is the biggest investment that a lot of people will ever make, but going green used to be seen as a moral or lifestyle choice, requiring dedication and effort and being quite expensive, a luxury of the wealthier classes even.

But, says Leanne Black, a renewable energy consultant with a stake in solar businesses in the sunny Cape and KZN regions of South Africa, says that is just not true.

She outlines costs and potential savings based on what she calls a relatively conservative figure of R1 500 a month for electricity for a family of four.

Installing a solar geyser reduces electricity spend by 35-50 percent over a 12 month period. The average 200 litre system will cost around R20 000 installed, meaning the savings will offset the capital outlay in just three years.

Good idea

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It is not surprising, then, that green choices are starting to be seen as good for short-term savings as well as solid long-term investment decisions.

Not only do they have the immediate benefit of saving money on day-to-day household expenses, but they increase the pool of buyers and the value of a property should you want to rent it out or sell it. Add the possibility of reducing your exposure to loadshedding and water restrictions and you have a very compelling argument.

“In a trend which began making its presence felt some 12 to 18 months ago, we are seeing green features and energy efficiency definitely adding to the saleability of a property,” says Dr Andrew Golding, CE of Pam Golding Property.

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“There is no doubt that residential properties offering green or energy and water saving features as well as emergency or back-up power solutions are at a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Neil de Beer, Pam Golding Properties franchisee in KwaZulu-Natal’s Ballito area, a coastal strip that is popular among holiday-makers from South Africa’s various concrete jungles especially in Gauteng, remembers one case where an astute Johannesburg-based businessman spent in the region of R200 000 adding green features to his holiday home before listing it for R20 million.

Taking hold

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Golding says the trend has really taken hold at the development level with new buildings and estates frequently using such features as a selling point. He mentions residential developments Val de Vie Estate in the winelands, Baronetcy Estate in Plattekloof in Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs and Steyn City in Fourways in Gauteng as examples.

Features incorporated into the design of these estates range from solar heating, water-wise gardens, LED lighting with time switches and sensors, to back-up power solutions such as inverters or generators.

De Beer says that in his neck of the woods as many as 90 percent of new-builds include green features, such as solar heating and – especially relevant for drought-hit KZN – storm water storage tanks. He adds buyers of older properties are also more interested in looking at properties where these upgrades have already been done. These features definitely make a property more sellable, he says.

Anthony Stroebel, group marketing director for Pam Golding Properties and a newly-appointed director of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBSCA), stressed how a home’s green credentials have a fundamentally positive impact on the running costs of any home.

Stroebel mentions the GBCSA’s My Green Home project run earlier this year. Pam Golding was a partner on this project, where the council worked with the Ngewanas, a South African family, for six months to show what was possible.

The family managed to save 53 percent on electricity, reduce their water consumption by 44 percent and cut waste sent to landfill dramatically. The overall outcome was that the family expects R18 000 in annual savings.


Brian Wilkinson, chief executive of the GBCSA, says going green increasingly makes economic and environmental sense, as has already been clearly demonstrated in the commercial property sector.

He says: “Our My Green Home project makes the point that while greening an existing home is not an overnight experience, there are meaningful savings which can be achieved immediately.

“It’s not difficult to see how these savings will translate into real benefits for consumers and homeowners, particularly when it comes to selling their property.

“In the commercial property sector the South African annual green property indicators show that in 2014 green buildings out-performed less energy efficient buildings by yielding returns on income and capital growth of 12.1 percent compared with 9.4 percent – in other words green buildings yielded almost 30 percent more.”


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