Unknown 10 years ago, hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius are now a mainstay in many countries, sold for their ability to achieve greater fuel economy and lower emissions.
“If you tell people a car is going to get you 50 miles a gallon rather than 15, they are going to seriously consider buying that car,” says Domingo Valdes of Mexican homebuilder VINTE. “Why should housing be any different?”
Just as cars track gasoline usage, he argues, homes should be able to monitor electricity, gas, and water consumption for people at all income levels, letting them save money and protect the environment by cutting back when necessary. Monitoring devices are sometimes offered to the wealthy today. But VINTE is one of the first to make them available in middle- and low-income housing.
IFC has invested $22.5 million in this rising developer that has sold 6,000 homes in Mexico in the last six years. Its homes start at $22,000, making them attractive to working young adults who grew up in Mexico City’s teeming informal settlements, where clean water, paved roads, and good schools are often just a dream. For them, VINTE’s attractive, well-planned developments are a major step up—and affordable through Mexico’s Green Mortgage program that provides incentives for purchasing energy-efficient homes. The program recently won the International Star of Energy Efficiency Award from the Alliance to Save Energy, a business-led global NGO.
With 20 million people in greater Mexico City alone, VINTE’s market is large. Its buyers are schoolteachers and factory workers, doctors and secretaries, and other salaried workers needing affordable housing and utility bills. Its simple, wall-mounted meters let them do just that—setting a good model that could have a major climate impact if applied more widely.