Is This Africa’s Largest Green Residential Development?

Street view of Acorn, a green residential development in Somerset West

The Power Up units found in each unit will reduce electricity bills by up to 75%.

The “green” revolution continues to grow – and is attracting the attention and support of major developers nationwide.

It’s a trend on the rise with developers, eager to create a product that stands out above others, in an increasingly eco-conscious world, whilst still creating additional income streams.

A development in the Western Cape will benefit residents by vastly reducing electricity bills and carbon footprint, yet continue to allow them to become “almost autonomous of an unreliable grid.” All 480 units throughout the luxury-living complex will feature the Power Up energy system that produces up to three times the daily power output of other deep cycle systems and the Crystal battery banks are known to last up to five times longer.

“This is the largest green development I know of in South Africa, and could easily be the largest in Africa as a whole,” says Miles Oates, chief executive officer of the Build Africa Corporation. “We hope this is a stepping stone to many more eco-friendly, sustainable, developments.”

Oates, in his role with Build Africa, distributes Power Up Supply units in 19 African countries.

“We supply the developer with all their green energy requirements from insulation, LED lighting, heat pumps and solar geysers at far lower prices than they would normally be able to procure in the market,” he explains.

The development – Acorn Creek – is located in Somerset West, in the Helderberg region of the Western Cape. It is in its construction phase with development set to take place over the next three years.

The Power Up units found in each unit will reduce electricity bills by up to 75% and “leave load-shedding a distant memory”. Each unit is a complete environmentally-conscious alternative power solution able to harvest energy from solar panels, windmills, generators or the grid. The system harvests energy from the sun, using solar panels, and uses it to run both the application and charges the Crystal battery banks which then supply energy to the when the sun sets.

[quote style=”boxed”]“This kind of mass implementation of green, renewable energy is very new in the residential market locally,” shares Oates.[/quote]

The control system that includes an inverter, UPS, solar tracker and specialised charge controller the size of an average laptop, along with the battery banks, is ergonomically designed like an Apple iPhone, and safe enough to be installed in a garage, lounge, kitchen or under a desk in an office.

Unlike current acid and gel technologies being used in the market, the Power Up batteries do not expel gases or radiation, will not “pop” and do not have the high fire risk of systems utilising lithium technologies.

Mauritz Robertson, who was involved in the initial planning stages, says development was conceptualised by MSP Developments, one of the largest private residential development companies in the Western Cape, in April of this year.  He was part of the identification process of renewable energy generation and storage as an opportunity to boost the sales potential of the complex.

‘When searching for a supplier to fit renewable energy units in each home in the development there was nothing currently on the market that could match the combination of functionality and cost-efficiency of the Power Up systems,” he shared.

“With appreciation in residential property in the Western Cape in 2015 outperforming all other regions, it’s unsurprising that foreign demand for “lock-up and go” developments in the region is increasing,” according to Robertson.  “And the development is already seeing interest from potential buyers – most notably from Germans” with units in the development likely to be sold for between R2 million and R3.5 million.

The Acorn Creek development Incorporating urban design and spatial planning “inspired by a sense of community”, is intended to be “synonymous with contemporary village living” in a desirable location. The estate also boasts fibre internet in every home, good security, and low-maintenance gardens.

It is also beneficial to home owners that the Power Up systems were installed during the construction phase preventing them facing the cost of fitting the system. “Should they opt to sell, the system’s value will be factored into the property value, substantially increasing it,” shares Oats.

“The financial benefits are easily quantifiable, “How do you price availability of power when load-shedding kicks in? And what would you pay for fresh air?” asks Robertson.

“Renewable energy is not the next big thing, it is the big thing,” says Robertson. “It is highly topical and gives developers like MSP an ideal opportunity to be seen as market leaders by integrating innovation and technology into the planning and execution of new residential developments. Not only does this set leaders in the market apart, it caters to the changing needs of consumers. Everybody wins, and so does the environment!”

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