The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) has developed a national green building certification tool which is aimed to assess projects in the local built setting to establish their environmental performance.
Dubbed Safari Green Building Index, the ratings system that will be unveiled in August is expected to improve the number of green buildings in Kenya by encouraging investors to build sustainable structures. The rating tool has been designed by the Environmental Design Consultants (EDC) chapter of AAK in partnership with the University of Nairobi and UN-Habitat.
“The Safari Green Building Index is suitable for all kinds of buildings in climatic zones in Kenya and is applicable in other East African countries,” says EDC chapter chairman Gideon Owalo.
“With it, the industry will be able to assess projects in the industry to establish their environmental performance and provide guidance in sustainability.”
The tool covers seven areas among them water conservation, energy conservation, planning areas, design areas, innovation, use of local materials and structures with historical value.
Also known as certification, green building rating tools are used to evaluate and recognise buildings that meet certain green standards. The rating tools, which are often voluntary, recognise and reward organisations that build sustainable buildings, thus incentivising the adoption of green construction.
Kenya has been using foreign rating tools such as the American Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Environmental Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) and Green Star Rating System.
The Safari Green Building Index comes as the 2019 Global Status Report for Building and Construction shows that the industry consumes 36% of global energy while contributing 39% of carbon emissions.
Green building has not received the much-needed attention by Kenyan builders due to lack of awareness and limited financial products. Industry players are now urging banks to frequently market their green building financial products to customers who may not be aware of such products.
“I would like to see financing incentives for those building green buildings at all stages from purchasing materials, installing solar panels and recycling water at different rates with those building non-green buildings,” says Elizabeth Chege, chairperson of Kenya Green Building Council.
The green buildings market in Kenya is currently at a nascent stage of development, with only 25 buildings being green star-rated. Although this might come across as a challenge at the beginning, it does open up a wide range of prospects for the development of green buildings in the country.