In 1996, Steve Brookes founded Balwin Properties in Johannesburg. Twenty-five years later, Balwin Properties owns, sells and rents property across the country. “When you turn 18, getting your first car is important. At 21 you get the keys to your first property and start your journey through life. My latest journey has been becoming a grandfather,” Brookes says, “and it’s made me realise that the generational wealth of this country is in sustainability.”
Today, Brookes is a board member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) — one of 75 councils that form part of the World Green Building Council. The GBCSA issues the internationally recognised certification, Edge (excellence in design for greater efficiencies), which sets sustainable building standards such as water and energy consumption reduction. Apart from promoting green building and architecture, the GBCSA also provides training in green building techniques, offering courses and webinars.
“When I started at Balwin, we were driven by financial security. We now want to be known as the most environmentally friendly development company in the world,” Brookes explains. He believes that it is “fundamental” that our homes should enable us to live in harmony with the environment around us, and his beliefs on sustainability are evident in Balwin’s practices. It is mandatory for all new properties to receive an Edge certificate and Balwin has negotiated with banks to provide preferential home loan rates to those whose homes are Edge certified.
Brookes has imbued his company with an identity that has made it a fixture in South Africa’s green economy. “There is no difference between how I view sustainability personally and professionally — if you are passionate about it, it makes no difference. What we do with my family is exactly in line with what we are doing at Balwin,” Brookes says.
“When I started at Balwin, we were driven by financial security. We now want to be known as the most environmentally friendly development company in the world.”