In a first-of-its-kind event in Africa, builders and housing ministry officials from all over the continent are converging on Nairobi this week to explore ways to encourage ‘green’ building in their own countries. The three day conference organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) titled “Promoting Green Building Rating in Africa” will take place from the 4th to the 6th of May 2010.
Green buildings use salvaged recycled or low carbon materials; they support rain water harvesting, bicycle commuting, solar heating, natural ventilation and many other environmentally friendly practices. ‘Green’ buildings emit fewer greenhouse gases, consume less energy, use less water, and offer occupants healthier environments than do typical buildings.
The conference will seek to put the phenomenon of green buildings in context drawing from relevant, real life experiences using expert speakers, panel discussions and interactive forums. There are different rating systems in use around the world, however these systems were developed for specific environments, and what is appropriate for a developed country may not be appropriate for Africa. Some observers believe that to date most green building rating schemes have not adequately rewarded alternative building technologies, or addressed affordable housing – concerns uppermost in many African countries. This is just one of the issues that the African builders coming to Nairobi will explore.
The Chairman of the South Africa Green Building Council, Bruce Kerswill, is looking forward to the debates. “Green building is transforming property industries around the globe, and the emphasis on the efficient use of energy, resources and infrastructure is particularly relevant to a developing continent like Africa”, Kerswill notes. “Africa needs to be part of [this movement] and to be involved in the "green economy" that goes with it. GBCs and rating tools have proven themselves to be one of the most effective means of achieving the necessary change and know-how. This conference is important.”