Home is where the green is

Private Property South Africa
Martin Hatchuel

We’ve looked at the law and the theory of green homes (Go green or go home) and we’ve considered the costs of going green at home (Don’t just dream green) – but what do the banks say about the idea? After all, they’re the guys who’re expected to provide the upfront financing for the green innovations in your new, or about-to-be renovated home.

According to Tim Akinnusi, head of sales and customer management at Nedbank Homeloans, the bank has committed itself it to green housing through its policies: “Nedbank strives to be a leader in sustainability. Not because it makes us look good, but because it is clearly the right way to work.”

Tim said that Nedbank has understood this for quite some time now, which is why it considers itself “Africa’s green bank.”

A world of firsts

“Nedbank has always been a pioneer in the area of sustainability – especially in the environmental area. We were the first African bank to sign up for the Equator Principles; we were the first bank to partner with the World Wide Fund for Nature; the first bank to build an entire new office extension totally based on green principles; and most recently, we became the first African bank to go carbon neutral.”

Since conservation of the environment is one of the company’s core values, he said, it follows that it supports its customer’s efforts to green their homes.

The company is also committed to educating its clients and all other South Africans on how to green their homes, and how by so doing they can contribute positively to the environment. The company’s web site features a section that’s dedicated to information about greening your home, with practical tips that you can adopt that will result in both positive short- and long-term environmental impacts, and long-term financial benefits.

Real life example

The bank sponsored the real-life greening of a home built by Michelle Garforth-Venter, which she reported on in her “Green Home Case Study.” (Download the pdf here: it’s an easy read and a practical guide, and it includes a list of contact details for the various companies that provided the green technologies that Michelle and her husband, Riaan, installed.)

Michelle said: “The costs of ignoring the signs from the natural world are very high,” and made the point that, “An ecofriendly home can be defined as one that considers the environment, our families and how it interacts with its surroundings, both now and in the future.”

She said that the green home “questions the traditions of conventional construction, asking how can we tread more lightly on our natural resources and do it better.” In her case, she and Riaan achieved results by working with an experienced architect to look at things like the materials they would use (did their manufacturing process minimise pollution, were they non-toxic, were they from recycled, recyclable, or renewable resources?), where their energy for heating, lighting, and their geyser would come from – and how efficiently it would be used – and at waste water disposal (including the use of technologies to recycle grey-water).

Real benefits

“The findings were that eco-friendly homes are cleaner, more cost-effective and more fun,” said Tim.

“They use less, do more, and last longer, and they support your local community, and help you to connect with the natural world.”

Tim’s advice for buyers, sellers, and developers is that greening has significant advantages for everyone.

“Adding features such as roof insulation, solar panels and water-conserving facilities will save you money in the mid- to long-term, increase your home’s attractiveness to future buyers and in turn place a premium on the value of your home,” he said.

Clearly, green is the way to go.

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