Green building is gaining rapid momentum in Africa with office buildings in Rwanda and Namibia both receiving 6-Star Green Star ratings.
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 ratings, Brian Wilkinson, CEO of Green Building Council of South Africa (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.”
He adds: “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.”
The GBCSA’s own story shows the tremendous impetus gained by South Africa’s green building movement and paints an exciting picture of a greener built environment in Africa’s future.
Founded in 2007, GBCSA certified just one green building project in its first year of operation. In April 2014, it celebrated a milestone of 50 certified projects and, only one year later, that figure had doubled. Today, it has awarded 161 Green Star SA certifications, and the World Green Building Trends 2016: Developing Markets Accelerate Global Green Growth – SmartMarket Report’ predicts that South Africa could become a leader in the green building sector in the next three years.
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.
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.
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.