Getting the balance right between secure community living, green spaces and maintaining a low carbon footprint through energy-efficient solutions, is driving new standards for the future.
The increased demand for sustainable and energy-efficient solutions has driven developers to heed the call of investors and home buyers to include alternative and off-the-grid capabilities in their developments. This is in the wake of the rising costs of electricity, water shortages, and a conscious awareness of the impact our carbon footprint has on the environment.
According to Murray Collins, Director of Collins Residential, there is an upswing in people looking to live in secure estates that are eco-conscious and put the environment first. By incorporating biodiversity into developments, developers fulfil the homeowner’s desire to live in communities that have green spaces and whose environmental footprint is low. However, often trees and other natural elements are removed and replaced with bricks and mortar.
“Our mandate as a company is to create ecosystems that benefit homeowners by enhancing wellness while protecting the environment. We are creating biodiversity where both fauna and flora abound within a residential environment while also keeping our carbon footprint low through energy-efficient solutions for homeowners to run their homes on a day-to-day basis,” says Murray.
According to Murray, with all their developments on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, they only develop on land that has been previously degraded or disturbed, overused or over-farmed. “If we cannot enhance or improve the land, we won’t build on it. Seaton Estate is a great example of this. We spent many years rehabilitating the land by planting trees, removing invasive species, and allowing the grass to grow naturally before we introduced Seaton to the market. This rehabilitation process started with insects, owls and other mammals returning to the area with the objective of returning the land to its former glory before it was sugar cane farms,” Collins explains.
Seaton Estate’s rehabilitation programme will see more than 10 000 trees being planted. This reduces the carbon footprint of the development, and when combined with the environmentally-friendly building materials, the inclusion of low voltage appliances and solar geysers in the architectural guidelines, the Estate will be well on its way to becoming carbon-neutral. It has also taken steps to reduce its reliance on the national electricity grid with sustainable options for both power and water being offered to residents.
Zululami Luxury Coastal Estate has also been developed with the environment and sustainability as a focus with picturesque wetlands as well as rare and indigenous coastal forests as the backdrop to residents’ everyday lifestyle. A micro-grid within Zululami allows homeowners to feed excess power, generated through solar, back into the Zululami micro-grid. This is then used within the estate thus reducing the draw from the national grid.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Sheffield Beach, Lalela Estate prioritises sustainability for a greener future, and already enjoys over 50% of green spaces. Each freestanding home is retrofitted with a rainwater harvesting tank, a gas geyser, and a gas hob. Both 2- and 3-bedroom units are inverter-ready for emergency back-up electricity.
Murray adds, “We’ve taken major steps to reduce Lalela’s reliance on the national electricity grid by offering both sustainable power and water options to our residents, thus creating low-impact and ultimately carbon-neutral communities. To enhance the biodiversity of the estate, about 50-hectares of land will be rehabilitated through the reintroduction of indigenous plants and soil amelioration techniques. Our wetlands and natural biomes are teeming with plants, animals, and birds. When we speak of sustainability, it’s more than the trees and plants, it’s a culture of putting the environment first in the creation of communities and the improvement of the environment.”