Residential property developer Calgro M3 and Standard Bank of South Africa (SBSA) have helped the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) win the Sustainable City and Human Settlements Award from the United Nations (UN).

The award was announced at the UN’s fourteenth yearly session of the Global Forum on Human Settlements, held in Ethiopia earlier this month.

The award recognised the South Hills development, which is located in the south of Johannesburg and is a joint venture between Calgro, SBSA and CoJ.

South Hills was considered to demonstrate sustainable cities and human settlements, as well as implementation of sustainable development goals.

The South Hills development has about 1,400 units already completed, with a further 1,600 currently still under construction.

The development will comprise a mix of fully-subsided homes, subsidised rental units, bonded units to the open market and free-standing houses. 

Calgro CEO Wikus Lategan commented in a statement on Monday that while the provision of affordable housing is a vital component of the social transformation and empowerment efforts of national and local government, affordable housing should not just be about providing shelter, but also about enhancing quality of life, providing opportunities and supporting dignity.

He added that the company endeavoured to do as much as possible to make the running cost of the houses as affordable as possible for residents, with less water and electricity use, by implementing gassolar and solar farming, heat pumps, induction geysers, energy-saving lights and prepaid meters, as well as rainwater harvesting.

Additionally, Calgro ensures there is “green space” for superior urban design and recreational purposes. South Hills has a total green space of 112 ha.

Calgro has implemented a device called “Save a Flush” by Dry Planet South Africa.

Placed in a toilet, the device reduces water consumption by one litre per flush. Calculations show that, based on the construction of a 40 m2 residential unit and 11 flushes a day, the group will be rendered “water neutral” for each unit it develops within just 84 days of being occupied.

“While energy– and water-efficient affordable housing is still in its infancy in the country, early indications are that the inclusion of these sustainability components in the design of low-cost houses could cut the utility costs of the people living in them by as much as 20% a year.

“And given that electricity and water prices are set to rise significantly in the coming years, these savings represent immense value, particularly for lower- and middle-income households,” said Lategan.

The environmental and social impact that drives Calgro to build responsible integrated developments, supported by the CoJ, makes for a viable solution to the housing crises in the country, he added.