Green building accelerates in Africa
With office buildings in Rwanda and Namibia both receiving 6-Star Green Star ratings, certified by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), green building is gaining rapid momentum in Africa.
In Kigali, Rwanda, the Nobelia Office Tower has achieved the very first Green Star rating in the country – a 6-Star Green Star SA-Rwanda – Office v1 Design rating for shell and core. While in Windhoek, Namibia, Emcon Consulting Group’s offices received a 6-Star Green Star SA-Namibia – Existing Building Performance Tool v1 rating, becoming the second Green Star certified building in the country, and the first to attain a 6-Star rating.
Commenting on these landmark ratings, Brian Wilkinson, CEO of GBCSA, says: “The pace of green building in Africa is accelerating, not only in South Africa but across the continent. Green building is a growing global movement, but its implementation varies widely by country and region, including the rate of growth in green involvement, triggers and obstacles impacting that growth and even the degree of benefits noted.”
“Africa has already made great strides in green building, and these are only its first steps in the significant green building journey of a continent bearing the brunt of the negative effects of climate change,” he adds.
Adapting Green Star SA tools for specific local contexts
The GBCSA’s Green Star SA rating tools were developed specifically for the South African context but are also a natural touch point for green building movements and councils in other parts of Africa. The GBCSA, therefore, seeks to work with other green building councils and structures like the African Network of Green Building Councils to adapt Green Star SA tools for specific local contexts – this has been done through what the GBCSA calls a Local Context Report.
So far, Local Context Reports have been developed for Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, and Uganda with the GBCSA working in collaboration with the relevant Green Building Councils to certify buildings in these countries.
In this way, the GBCSA is clearing the path for fledgling green building industries, like those behind the new Green Star certifications in Rwanda and Namibia.
The Nobelia Office Tower in Kigali, Rwanda has set its sights on being a leading green building in Rwanda and the wider Central East African region. The 19 storey tower will have 16 floors dedicated to office space, adjacent to commercial, residential, recreational and retail zones. It is constructed on previously developed land to prevent urban sprawl.
Manfred Braune, GBCSA’s chief technical officer, reports: “This project scored very high results in key areas of its rating, including energy consumption, water management, emissions and transport. It boasts several impressive sustainable building features.”
This includes the building’s ability to provide dehumidified fresh air, solar panels and on-site water treatment. Its façade is a tribute to the building’s green inner workings, with mesh that allows for plant growth and shading. The building’s waste management plan even includes an on-site composting facility to improve on soil, plant growth and biodiversity.
Lofty green goals
In Namibia, Emcon Consulting Group is leading by example. As an African consultancy firm that operates in the energy, electricity, building services and project management sectors, it set lofty green goals for its own office in the heart of Klein Windhoek.
Braune says what makes this project even more remarkable is that Emcon’s 6-Star Green Star Existing Building Performance rating submission was led by first-time Green Star Accredited Professional (AP), Emcon’s own Carina Muller, who achieved this in the first round of what is typically a two-round process.
Previously a private residence, Emcon’s office building’s green performance was boosted with a solar power plant, more natural light with daylight control, and an energy efficient evaporative cooling system that provides 100% fresh air – cooling and humidifying the hot, dry Windhoek air. This has helped make it 79% more energy efficient than the industry average. It has an intelligent energy and water monitoring system, a live on-screen energy and water usage display, and a Xeriscape Garden with an artificial turf putting green.
Wilkinson says: “The Green Star certified projects showcase world-class, innovative implementations that benefit people, planet and profit. Results in the USA, Australia and now Africa clearly show there is no significant difference between the costs of green buildings compared to conventional buildings. However, green buildings show the potential to achieve better investment returns and higher valuations.”
As the market becomes more aware of these benefits, the GBCSA expects green building to gain even more traction in Africa.
“Green building presents a compelling business case. Our partners, associates and Green Star certified projects have already started reaping the rewards of their green investments through lower operating costs, higher returns on their assets, minimised churn and increased productivity – all while doing their bit for the environment,” Wilkinson says.