Ideas & Debate

Green buildings will help tackle climate change

building

Green buildings enable us to cut down on energy costs as they store energy. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Summary

  • Green buildings are designed in such a way that they lessen the overall impact on environment and human health by reducing pollution and environmental degradation while efficiently using energy, water and other resources. They also safeguard the health of occupants of the buildings.

It is common at this day and age to hear people talking about going green. And no matter our thoughts around it, at some point we will all have to follow the green movement.

I say this having considered the rate at which we are developing; the earth is simply not sustainable in many aspects. What this means is that in the near future, we will begin to run out of certain natural resources that are needed for us to survive.

Indeed, this is something that has raised the antennae of many across the planet, the more reason as to why there is increasing interest and focus on green buildings today.

But what exactly is a green building? According to the World Green Building Council, a green building is one that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Such buildings preserve crucial natural resources and improve our quality of life while still serving their intended purpose.

Of course, when we talk of anything green, the first thing that comes to mind is climate change and we know that to slow it down we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Data from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) show that buildings and their construction together account for 36 percent of global energy use and 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually.

These statistics demonstrate to the need for impactful action on climate change, which can only be achieved through reduction of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

One of the way through which we can achieve this is by embracing green buildings. This way, we can greatly reduce our carbon footprint and create a sustainable environment.

Green buildings are designed in such a way that they lessen the overall impact on environment and human health by reducing pollution and environmental degradation while efficiently using energy, water and other resources. They also safeguard the health of occupants of the buildings.

One of the other best things about going green is the fact that in the long term, we are able to save and conserve a lot. Green buildings enable us to cut down on energy costs as they store energy.

Similarly, they influence efficient usage of water and other resources that are critical to our lives. This should give us the impetus to consider green buildings more of investments than anything else. Investment that will save us money, while sustaining our ecosystem.

From where I sit, this is a win-win situation for ourselves and our environment. I say so fully aware that shifting focus from traditional construction designs to green buildings will ensure long term sustainability of urban places and also improve the quality of life of inhabitants.

Konza Technopolis as the pioneer smart city in Kenya is keen on being a leader in sustainability by adopting green practice which sets the right precedence for future urban development projects.

Most of the constructions and designs in the Technopolis such as the Konza Complex and the National Data Centre have been issued with different certifications by the Kenya Green Building Society (KGBS) which advocates for green built environment and trains green building professionals in the country. The society issues certifications to buildings and designs that have adopted green practices.

As we continue to develop the Technopolis, our aim is to be a smart, sustainable city that will improve the quality of life for residents.

It is for this reason that at Konza, we have made it mandatory for all buildings to be designed and constructed in a manner that adheres to green practices.

We also encourage acquiring of certification on this achievement, just to retain global standards. We also have specifications on the types of construction materials which are required, a decision that ensures sustainability of the materials being used.

Aside from that, buildings at the Technopolis are also required to factor in usage of solar energy as well as collection and utilization of rain water.

I am therefore a firm believer that by adopting greener practices, we can take the maximum advantage of environmental and economic performance of the buildings while playing our role in tackling climate change.

In the construction industry, the path is well cut out, and there is urgent need to adopt green practices right from the designing to the construction of buildings to protect our health and well-being.

Tanui is the chief executive officer of Konza Technopolis Development Authority.