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Mombasa developer goes ‘green’

MOMBASA, Kenya, Jun 25 – A local developer is tapping into the growing demand by environmentally conscious buyers for energy efficient homes and has introduced Kenya’s first International Energy Performance Rating for its homes.

Based in Mombasa, Mandharini homes use less than 50 percent of the energy consumed by similar coastal homes, with each house using solar water heaters, solar powered pool pumps, insulated windows and roofs and solar powered LED lighting.

“We have designed the homes from the beginning to limit electricity use as much as possible. For example our UPVC heat reflecting windows close like a bank vault, significantly lowering the amount of air conditioning needed to keep the temperatures agreeable,” said Friso Abbing, Director of Hello Properties, the developer of Mandharini.

The introduction of the rating system into Kenya comes as surveys in various countries clearly show a preference by buyers for energy efficient homes.
For example, the National Housing Cooperation in the USA reports that 91 percent of home buyers prefer energy-efficient homes with lower bills, versus two to three percent who prefer cheaper homes without energy-efficient features.

The DPE Energy Performance chart indicates the amount of energy actually consumed or estimated for the use of a building, and gives an energy efficiency rating according to reference values that consumers can use to compare and assess their energy performance, and to calculate annual house hold energy expenses.

“All the homes in our development are level A efficient, they are designed to minimise energy so use so our buyers will incur lower electricity bills and minimise their carbon footprint,” said Abbing.

Though electricity is a key enabler of Kenya’s development, the country currently experiences frequent black outs attributed to increasing demand for electricity, which continues to rise, peaking at 1,215 megawatts (MW) compared to 1,194 MW at the end of June 2011, contributing to erratic supply.

In this environment, the government, through the Energy Regulation Commission came up with the Energy Regulations 2010 requiring developers to incorporate solar systems in their developments, a move that has resulted in increased uptake of solar water heating and lighting, while reducing dependency on the main grid power.

Property developers, however, are yet to fully embrace energy efficiency as part of their homes from design. This lack of energy efficiency creates high energy use, which in combination with the fact that power in Kenya is amongst the most expensive in the world, creates high monthly costs for property owners.

“Right from the beginning of the design process we wanted our homes to be an excellent long term investment and energy costs quickly emerged as a concern that needed to be addressed,” said Abbing.

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Through the Europe Union, all European countries in 2002 implemented the energy performance of buildings directive that requires the obligatory energy certification of new and existing buildings as well as prominent display of this certification and other relevant information in public buildings.

France, in particular, has led in enacting law making DPE certification a must for all homes whether for purchase or rentals, protecting renters from incurring additional costs resulting from energy inefficiency.

The country also implemented a second law in January 2011 requiring that all adverts for property sale or rental in France display the energy classification from the DPE report, making their home buyers some of the most informed globally on the energy consumption of their investments.

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