JSE-listed real estate investment trust Balwin Properties has, together with financial services provider Absa, launched South Africa’s first green home loan – the Absa Eco Home Loan.

Balwin CEO Steve Brookes. Image credit: Balwin

Balwin CEO Steve Brookes. Image credit: Balwin

The home loan will come with features and benefits that will appeal to customers looking to live green, the parties said on Thursday.

Balwin CEO Steve Brookes, during the launch event held at The Reid residential complex in Sandton, said the idea of a green home loan was inspired by the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) Green Bond. He called this ‘the loan of the future’.

“I was impressed by how much they have achieved in driving climate-smart investment and saw an opportunity to extend this philosophy to our customers. My team and I set out to find a like-minded, innovative partner with the right technical expertise and delivery capabilities to develop such a product – Absa became an obvious choice,” he says.

“The Absa Eco Home Loan is testament to our commitment to create products and offerings that are centred on what the customer and the future of residential property needs. We recognise that sustainable living is a priority for our customers and so it must be a priority for us,” commented Absa home loans managing executive Geoff Lee.

The residential property developer last year achieved EDGE certification of 16 000 of its units, across seven of its built-to-sell developments. The IFC at the time confirmed that Balwin’s EDGE registration of 16 000 units was a global first, covering more homes than any single property developer in the world as at June 2019.

EDGE certification for new homes is implemented in South Africa by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), in partnership with IFC. The EDGE certification can be achieved once a home achieves a 20% reduction across energy consumption, water use and embodied energy in materials.

Brookes says it had become an imperative for the company to help its customers reduce energy costs while electricity tariffs continue to rise in South Africa.

Balwin has introduced several innovations to its developments to make the homes more energy efficient and environment-friendly.

IFC had been one of the earliest issuers of green bonds, with a green bond programme launched in 2010 to help catalyse the market and unlock investment for private sector projects that support renewable energy and energy efficiency. EDGE was created by the IFC to respond to the need for a measurable solution to prove the financial case for building green and to help jumpstart the proliferation of green buildings.

“The release of the Absa Eco Home Loan is an exciting first step towards increasing accessibility to green homes. This is one of the most important catalysts for green homes since the launch of the EDGE rating tool in 2015,” says GBCSA market engagement executive head Grahame Cruickshanks.

Brookes concludes that, using the EDGE software, Balwin now had a cost-effective planning tool that helped to build “green” based on occupant behaviour, building type and the local climate.

“Importantly, EDGE registration provides our environmentally conscious buyers and tenants with peace of mind that they are minimising their environmental footprint while saving on utility costs over the long term. Absa’s Eco Home Loan enhances the benefits of EDGE certification by lowering the cost of finance for our customers.”