Architects root for green buildings as need for public awareness on designs and available financing increases

Architectural Association of Kenya Chief Executive Jacob Mwangi, AAK President Mugure Njendu, Kenya Green Building Society Chairperson Elizabeth Chege and the society’s CEO John Kabuye during the signing of an MoU at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday. [James Wanzala, Standard]

Architects say there is need for public education to accelerate construction of green buildings to reduce carbon emissions.

The call comes as the 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction indicated that the industry consumes 36 per cent of global energy and contributes 39 per cent of carbon emissions.

“With these statistics, we in the built environment need to be part of this conversation,” said Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) President Mugure Njendu during a media breakfast yesterday to launch the AAK Convention 2021.

The meeting will be held in Mombasa between August 11 to 14.

“We have a big role to play in ensuring that carbon emissions are reduced and that’s why our convention theme this year is on climate change, to have an impact in built environment and climate change,” said Ms Njendu.

Recognising the increasing threat of climate change, many countries came together in 2015 to adopt the Paris Agreement, committing themselves to limiting climate change to well below 2°C.

Over 180 countries have formally joined the agreement, including Kenya after it was effected in November 2016.

Given Africa’s geographic position, the continent will be particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its considerably limited adaptive capacity, exacerbated by widespread poverty, experts say.

“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,” said Elizabeth Chege, chairperson of Kenya Green Building Council (KGBS).

She said some heads of corporate banking may not be aware about green buildings and thus fail to explain to customers the available funding and benefits of green buildings.

“The banks are also not frequently marketing these green building products, thus many Kenyans do not know that they exist,’’ she said.

According to Ms Njendu, three banks - Standard Chartered, KCB and Absa Kenya - offer green building financing products, but they need to do frequent awareness of the products.

KCB last year November received $150 million (Sh16.3 billion) funding from Green Climate Fund to finance sustainable green climate projects.

“There is also $25 trillion available for Africa from World Bank for large scale or commercial green projects,’’ said Njendu.

The KGBS and AAK signed a memorandum of understanding towards a greener future as well as to advocate for, promote, train and build capacity among the association’s members on the principles of green building design.

Njendu said the MoU will help in certifying more environmental design consultants and green buildings and materials awareness.

“We intend to increase our certified environmental design consultant architects from the current 10  to between 100 and 200 out of the  over 1,000 practising architects so that you can easily get green building consultants when you ask us or search online,” she said.