On the leading edge
When property developer Alleyroads bought the Illovo Country Club in 2012 on KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) South Coast, affordable housing was top of mind. “Our main aim was to close the infrastructure gap in South Africa, as demand for affordable housing far outstrips supply,” says Ivan Pretorius, founder and MD of Alleyroads. While upmarket property developments have mushroomed along the North Coast over the past decade, middle-income earners have been left behind. “There were also economic drivers that made us choose the South Coast,” explains Pretorius, including the development of the Durban port towards the old airport, as well as the expansion projects of Toyota and Illovo Sugar, which required additional personnel to be housed.
The other objective Alleyroads wanted to achieve was sustainability. Last year the company secured funding for R325 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank. Alleyroads also became an EDGE Champion, one of only a handful of African companies that were chosen by the IFC to accelerate green building adoption. While the IFC is responsible for EDGE certification worldwide, the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) is a Certification Provider is the country.
Pretorius says the group chose to pursue EDGE certification because it’s kinder to the planet and on people’s pockets. “As a developer, by greening our housing projects, we put less strain on the national electricity grid and this ensures sustainability into the future,” he asserts. “The tenants living in our units also derive direct benefits from the reduction in their monthly utility expenditure.”
There was also a market advantage to working with the GBCSA, Pretorius believes. “GBCSA’s certification systems, such as EDGE, are widely recognised and respected in the industry,” he explains. “By working with GBCSA, Alleyroads can aim for green building certifications for its projects, providing a market advantage by demonstrating commitment to sustainable design and construction.”
From country club to estate
Construction began in 2015, with the first phase of the development consisting of 80 units, then financed by the National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency (NURCHA). Later, Phases 2 and 3 were added, consisting of 160 sectional-title units. In total, the development now consists of 240 units.
Each unit has a floorplan of 65m² and consists of two bedrooms and a bathroom. It comes fitted with built-in cupboards, granite kitchen countertop, and modern sanitary ware and tiling in the bathroom. The complex has ample parking, with plenty of visitors’ bays, as well as 24-hour security. In addition, it features amenities like tennis courts, a play area for children, a swimming pool and a club house, which was part of the original country club house.
Hano Oberholzer, director of BDH Solutions, who advised Alleyroads on the green building design and helped the client understand the ins and outs of the certification system, is thrilled with the result. “I am immensely satisfied that all our hard work paid off,” he enthuses. He says he worked closely with the GBCSA to prepare the application and achieve the certification.
The new development has achieved considerable energy savings to its residents through practical solutions, such as the fitting of 288 solar panels that provide 157 230kWh of renewable energy a year. In addition, just over 65 exterior solar security lights contribute to a further saving of 28 470kWh a year. Alleyroads chose to use power-saving bulbs with a luminous efficiency of 96 for interior lighting. Reduced window-to-wall ratios and roof insulation ensure optimal energy efficiency. This energy reduction adds up to a predicted savings of 26% of all energy measures for the entire estate.
On the water side, significant savings have also been achieved. These include restricting water usage in the kitchen and bathroom taps, as well as the shower, by using aerators that reduce water flow to three litres/minute. All the toilets in the estate have a dual-flush mechanism with a six-litre, high-volume and a three-litre, low-volume flush. Overall, a 35% saving was achieved in the predicted water consumption.
But the most impressive saving of all was using less embodied energy through the choice of construction materials. In this, the estate achieved a 56% reduction, resulting in a saving of 40 tonnes of CO2 a year. Some of the smart measures that were incorporated into the building design were the choice of ceramic floor tiles with a thickness of 10mm, ensuring minimum heat loss with a U-value of 0.49W/m2.K.
On the roof, micro-concrete tiles on timber rafters were used, which generated a U-value of 0.36W/m2.K. The exterior walls were built with a combination of face brick (92%) and dense concrete bricks (8%) that were plastered and painted. The interior walls, on the other hand, were exclusively built out of dense concrete bricks, which were plastered and painted. All window frames are made out of 100% aluminium. The roof insulation consists of 100mm Aerolite to keep homes cool in summer and warm in winter. This glass wool ceiling insulation product has a thermal conductivity K-value of 0.040W/m2.K. Lastly, all ceilings consist of 7mm PVC and have a thermal resistance of 0.112 W/m2.K.
To achieve EDGE certification for Illovo Country Estate, compliance had to be demonstrated at preliminary and post-construction stage. Each stage consists of two rounds of submissions, giving clients the opportunity to correct any errors they might have made.
In the design stage, Alleyroads registered on the EDGE app and entered the project’s details. The EDGE app is intuitive, enabling clients to decide which green features they want for their development. The app then quickly assesses how feasible the proposed green measures are, given the constraints of the project. A design certificate is issued once the project has demonstrated a minimum improvement of 20% in energy, water and embodied energy in construction materials, compared to current building regulations.
In the post-construction phase, an EDGE auditor visits the site to verify the project’s sustainability features. In the case of Illovo Country Estate, the EDGE auditor was Yvonne Pelser of Inside Out Consulting, well known for its consulting services targeted at the affordable housing market. After inspection, the auditor submits the relevant findings to the GBCSA. The GBCSA then assesses the application and makes a final decision on whether to issue an EDGE certificate to the project owner or not.
Pretorius says Alleyroads will continue to use EDGE certification for its future projects and is proud of its association with the IFC. “We benefit from our partnership with the IFC, enjoying funding opportunities, expertise sharing and networking advantages,” he says.
“As an EDGE Champion, we will enrol 3 770 units or 250 000m2 for EDGE certification in the next 12 months,” says Pretorius. “By December 2027, we plan to roll out 10 000 units or 620 000m2 of EDGE-certified affordable housing.” He believes that with the IFC capital of R2.2 billion as debt funding over the next five years, Alleyroads should be able to hit these targets easily. “We are the first residential developer in South Africa and with the GBCSA – in the affordable housing sector – to achieve design certification on EDGE Version 3,” Pretorius says.
An innovation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) is a green-building certification system for emerging markets. EDGE certification enables residential developers to optimise the performance of their building design and be rewarded for resource efficiency. The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) is a licensed certification provider for EDGE throughout Africa.
Achieving an EDGE certification requires savings of 20% in each of the following three categories: energy usage; water usage; and a reduction in the embodied energy of construction materials. The EDGE certification gives homeowners peace of mind that their homes have been designed and built to be resource-efficient, saving them money on utility bills and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.