The dream of living near a park, owning a house with a garden and overlooking a lake or a body of water comes at a premium, sometimes pushing up the property price by as much as 20 percent.
Properties with a backyard, parks, trees, shrubbery and other green spaces are now more expensive as homebuyers move away from apartments to detached houses.
A 2020 Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) report showed a higher interest in single detached homes by buyers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as more families settled and worked from home.
Going green is a fad that is gaining currency today, with the increased awareness of global warming stirring action.
Not only do green spaces improve the view of the home, but they also add a natural touch and improve the air quality and value of the property.
Potential homebuyers are looking for well-manicured lawns and yards. They want mature plants that have taken root and require little maintenance.
A survey by Artistic Group found that 63 percent of respondents were willing to pay more for an apartment or house if it was located in an area with good green spaces.
Some believed it would help them live healthier lives.
“The world is going green to counter global warming effect and healthy living requires natural open spaces with trees, shrubs, and flowers to create a beautiful environment that engages the mind, body, and soul,” says Charles Dickson Ogeto, an architect at Maestro Homes.
“It is, therefore, an added advantage to have green spaces or open grounds full of planted or natural trees as this gives the plot a premium tag in price and value ... you are buying into an existing ecosystem which would lead to sustainable development solutions by skilled architects.”
No official research has been conducted on the impact of landscaping or having green spaces on property value, but real estate agents reckon it jacks up the prices by up to 20 percent.
“A green lot could add between 10 percent and 20 percent of the usual price. Apart from providing desired shade and privacy, mature trees generally make the area beautiful and desirable,” notes Mr Ogeto.
The latest AAK status of the built environment report shows that the built environment contributes up to 39 percent of all global emissions, which is higher than other sectors.
Picking your shrub
While homebuyers are attracted to greenery, Mr Ogeto cautions against planting any type of shrub around the home.
“Some like gum trees have deep spreading roots that may damage building foundations,” points out Mr Ogeto.
Sam Kariuki, the chief executive officer at Mivida Homes says that while green spaces are factored in when pricing, the margin is not significant.
“The greening itself isn’t a significant cost factor if distributed among the units. The open land where the green space has been left is the more significant factor – it’s land bought but which you are not building on,” says Mr Kariuki.
Green space costing
“Green spaces include the cost of the land plus landscaping cost, which form part of the overall cost. Hence the profit markup is on top of this cost.”
As Kenya’s property market races to attain world-class standards, environmental sustainability has emerged as one of the strongest drivers that will define the industry in years to come.
This consciousness is now more pronounced in the construction of office spaces to attract the environmentally-conscious segment of the market.
Statista, a leading research company that specialises in market and consumer data, projects that Kenya’s urban population will reach 44 million people by 2050.
With this realisation, real estate developers and the government are working on affordable housing projects to bridge the burgeoning housing gap.
The problem lies in increased construction sites in the cities shrinking green spaces at a fast rate.
Kenya has slowly employed environmentally sustainable architecture in real estate development.
This comes at a time when multinationals including big tech firms are investing in the country.
Several international brands have invested in innovation hubs, including Microsoft Africa, Development Centre, Visa’s innovation studio, Google’s Africa product development hub and Amazon Web’s AWS Local Zone Hubs, which have incorporated sustainability features.
Microsoft launched an IT pre-assembled components (ITPAC) data centre at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi to help ensure that the UN can achieve its green IT goals in the country.
Green building certification
Other properties include The Cube, Promenade, Absa Bank, Caxton House and PTA Complex, which have attained either EDGE (excellence in design for greater efficiencies) or LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certifications for sustainable structures.
The green building certifications make it faster and easier for developers to build and brand their structures green, often using software that also allows for resource efficiency.