Image credit: Olga Yastremska ©


In South Africa, due to the perpetual shortage of affordable housing, the residential sector can expect to see growth. This demand for housing will naturally result in greater demand for electricity as the residential sector alone consumes 30% of Eskom’s coal-powered energy. This increase in housing is expected to further double in the coming decade posing stress on the already burdened electricity grid.

South Africa’s energy security is crucial to its long-term growth ambitions; however, the increase in national loadshedding continues to slow down the economy. Eskom continues to record declining energy availability factors (the amount of energy available compared to the total energy generation) and is well below the 80% target.

Frustrated homeowners often have to deal with spoilt food and damaged electrical appliances due to power surges as a result of scheduled and unscheduled loadshedding. Adding to this burden are the increasing electricity prices, which have increased almost threefold in the last decade and which are expected to rise by more than 10% in 2021.

As homeowners become more conscious about their expenses, they are seeking ways to keep costs down by shifting towards greener solutions and starting to live more sustainably. This includes taking actions to reduce food waste, recycle and conserve water, save energy and opting to invest in energy solutions that are seen as kinder to the environment, reducing their carbon footprint while increasing their resilience.

Furthermore, with climate change now firmly on the global agenda, the topic of energy-efficiency and sustainability is becoming top of mind for first-time homeowners, as it reduces the total cost of ownership in the long-term. The growing interest in green buildings continues to grow, aiding efforts to improve the overall quality of life by bringing a whole new group of stakeholders into the supply chain of green buildings under one initiative, rather than in multiple disparate solutions.

The demand for new buildings presents a unique opportunity to leap into low carbon and a resource-efficient future by building them responsibly, incorporating energy-efficient design and construction strategies. These buildings could inherently have a reduced energy consumption footprint over their operating lifetime and support in meeting climate change targets.

The International Financing Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, together with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) introduced the EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) tool. EDGE is aimed at increasing energy, water and materials efficiency in most building types including homes, hospitality, retail, offices, hospitals and education. The tool was created to respond to the need for a measurable solution to prove the financial case for building green to the residential sector. It sets a standard and gives stakeholders in the industry a benchmark against which to get the comfort that the home meets the standards and is “green”.

EDGE certified residential developments and homes translate into the following benefits:

  • Are at least 20% more energy efficient
  • Use at least 20% less water
  • Have at least 20% less embodied energy of building materials
  • Have sustainability embedded into the construction process
  • Lead to long-term environmental savings
  • Sell better, are affordable and lead to long-term economic savings
  • Are more affordable to rent or owner-occupy

The Absa Eco Home Loan, launched in partnership with Balwin Properties, makes buying and owning a green home possible for more South Africans.

Balwin Properties made history when they announced that they had registered over 16,000 units as EDGE-certified by the GBCSA across seven of its built-to-sell and three of its green developments. The IFC confirmed this as a global first that covered more homes than any single property developer in the world to date.

Qualifying homebuyers at select Balwin developments – The Reid, De Zicht, The Blyde and Polofields – can now get a reduced interest rate on their mortgages through taking out an Absa Eco Home Loan.

Committed to creating customercentric products, Absa recognises that sustainable living is a priority for their customers, seeing this as an opportunity to provide solutions for customers that are eco-friendly, while also leading the industry with South Africa’s first eco home loan.

Absa’s Eco Home Loan offers a finance solution with competitive rates, enhancing the benefits of EDGE certification, by lowering the cost of finance for customers. Building more sustainably, these communities are not only greener but the costs of running a household is lowered and therefore it has a direct impact on a household’s cash flow. Other customer benefits include 105% loan-to-value for young professionals, cashback for rewards members, and access to financial planning.

The Absa Eco Home Loan has demonstrated how collaborating with developers can assist in creating innovative solutions that enable home ownership in South Africa.

Author: Vishay Rabbipal, Head of Renewable Energy, Absa Retail and Business Banking

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