Experts list hinderances to green building developments in Nigeria
With buildings emitting more energy-related carbon globally than the entire transport sector, experts say holistic adoption of green building standards in the housing industry would boost efficiency and lower construction costs.
Despite its benefits, Nigeria is yet to fully embrace green designs in the housing industry. According to the United Kingdom Green Building Council, the construction sector uses more than 400 million tons of materials yearly, many of which have adverse impact on the environment.
Findings show that for a building to qualify as green certified, there are six primary standards such structure must meet. These include energy, water use, lot development, use of resources, operations and maintenance, and air quality.
The immediate past President, Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACANigeria), Mansur Kurfi Ahmadu said despite challenges posed by climate change that necessitate such structural designs, up till now there is no law for green building in the country.
He said authorities are working towards having a law for green building, stressing that there hasn’t been capacity building for architects who are the leaders on green buildings, and other professionals in the housing industry.
Ahmadu stated, “There hasn’t been good sensitisation for green design until recently when some international organisations from Germany came to do training for some professionals. The Ministry of Works and Housing is trying to put it up whereas, some countries have gone far beyond, and in others have regulations.
“Nobody is checking anything we do on green buildings. Even the building code, as it is now, they trying to make it a law. That is one of the reasons Nigeria is behind in green building, but professional associations are thinking very seriously about it.”
According to him, there are architectural procedures that must be considered for design of green buildings. These he stated include, consideration for climate and sustainability where you don’t have to use a lot of mechanical resources, the materials to be used when designing, and make sure you design towards well-ventilated, and lighted rooms without air conditioners.
“You must ensure that you are not using materials that would worsen the climate change effects, and weigh the likely carbon foot-print of buildings.”
A senior official of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Austin Otegbulu said the major challenges are lack of awareness, absence of no clear government policy and certification standards. He explained that green compliance is associated with many environmental and economic implications as documented in advanced countries. He said in the United States, green buildings save about 37 per cent of energy use, and 68 per cent of electricity use, 88 per cent of potable water consumption, and 40 per cent of the country’s raw material.
Otegbulu who is the former head of department of estate management, University of Lagos, said in proposing new structures and renovating existing ones, green designs could be incorporated as it can be used to stimulate the economy by minimising energy, and carbon emissions. He stressed that energy efficiency alone can reduce the power requirements of the country, including demand for extra power stations, and also improve productivity at the workplace.
“In the United States of America, the certification standard is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED), for the United Kingdom, BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREAM) while you have an energy guide in HK Building Environmental Assessment Method in Canada.
“The cost of certification and the entire process for green building isn’t cheap. Edge is more affordable, and ideal for developing countries. Edge certification is a product of the World Bank.”
According to him, the few green buildings that are in Lagos entered the market either just before or immediately after the recession. The effect of this, he noted, was the high vacancy levels and service charge burdens as the cost of common services are shared by few tenants. These are critical challenges.
He noted that in a perfectly robust green property market there will be a large number of consumers who are well vested in the attributes of green building, receptive to green building value or benefit propositions and discerning of the many possible green products available.
Some people, even very educated ones, he stated, see green buildings as planting trees and flowers around buildings whereas for a building to be green compliant, it must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, promote energy efficiency including renewable energy, water efficiency, low carbon emission, positive impact on health and productivity of occupants.
“There is nothing to motivate supply in that market segment. If consumers are aware of the benefits they will demand for it. The three elements critical to the green building market are, consumers, the industry, and government. The three must work in tandem to make it a reality. Industry players should kick starts the movement. South Africa is the only African country that has a reasonably vibrant green building market. We have two classes of green buildings. These are buildings with green features but without certification or label and green building with certification or green label. Examples of green buildings in Lagos are, Heritage building, Nest oil building, the Wings, and Alliance building.”
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu said many housing professionals are aware of green building but putting it into practice has always remained the issue. He stressed the need for capacity development in that regard for the nation to reap the economic and huge environmental sustainability benefits that it offers.
Awobodu disclosed that the institute has a green building association among its folds, which has been promoting the need for green designs in the housing sector.
The Chairman, Sparklight Property Development Company (SPDC), Toyin Adeyinka, an engineer, said the concept of environmental sustainability through green building designs must come to the front burner in the built sector.
However, he said that what is important in Nigeria, is that stakeholders must learn to attend to the actual housing needs of the people. Adeyinka said, “There is a large deficit of housing, and what we must be concerned about is how to come out with real affordable housing for the working class of this country. Affordable in the sense that we will make use of local building materials, in terms of doors, ceiling boards, tiles, clay bricks, and things that are generally made locally, and that would save government money. We must be focusing on houses within the range of N3 million to N5million.”
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