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.
Yet nowhere is this consciousness more pronounced than in the construction of office spaces, where developers have set the bar high by investing in projects that are not only in tune with market trends but are also attractive to the environmental-conscious segment of the market.
Today, installation of occupancy sensors, water-efficient solutions, modern meeting rooms and parking spaces that come with chargers for electric vehicles and other sustainability features is the norm rather than the exception.
Some of these developments are driven by multinationals either setting up office in Nairobi or those expanding their operations in the country and region.
Findings of a market survey of the first half of the year by consultancy firm Knight Frank show that investors in office properties are not only incorporating environmental sustainability aspects into their designs to enhance resource efficiency but also to lower their carbon footprints.
Already, some properties in Kenya, including The Cube, Promenade, Absa Bank, Caxton House and PTA Complex, have attained either EDGE (excellence in design for greater efficiencies) or LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certifications for sustainable structures.
EDGE green building certification, for instance, makes it faster and easier for developers to build and brand their structures green, often using software that also allows for resource efficiency.
The report indicates that with Kenya’s growing digital industry and interest by technology giants, there is an attractive investment opportunity in smart offices that go beyond the physical building to provide amenities such as occupancy sensors, water-efficient solutions, meeting room and parking solutions.
In Nairobi, 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, all that have incorporated sustainability features.
“The expectation for sustainable buildings by multinationals is creating a fresh opportunity for real estate investors in this market. It is the future of the industry globally and we expect it to continue growing in demand even by local businesses,” explains Anthony Havelock, the head of capital markets at Knight Frank.
As is the case elsewhere in the world, developers of new housing projects in Kenya are having to incorporate sustainable designs rather than incur additional costs in future redesign.