Wednesday, 7th June 2023

Experts seek policies to enhance sustainability culture in Africa’s built industry

By Victor Gbonegun
06 June 2022   |   2:42 am
Stakeholders in the real estate sector have called for the enactment of sustainability policies, green building finance and ethical construction practices in the industry.

Stakeholders in the real estate sector have called for the enactment of sustainability policies, green building finance and ethical construction practices in the industry.

The experts also advocated collaboration among industry leaders to pursue sustainability initiatives and projects rather than isolated efforts by some operatives.

Managing Director, New Frontier Development, Hassan Usman (left); Managing Director, 3INVEST, Ruth Obih; Managing Director, Eximia Reality, Hakeem Ogunniran and Senior Partner, Omotola & Company, Kunle Omotola during the 10th edition of the Real Estate Unite conference organised by 3INVEST in Lagos.

They spoke at the 10th edition of the Real Estate Unite conference, entitled: ‘towards a sustainable culture,’ organised by 3INVEST, in Lagos. The summit was designed to encourage the built environment in Africa to embrace a sustainability culture and align with relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Leading the call, a Professor of Sustainability and Environmental Law, London South Bank University, Obas Ebohon, said the role of the government is fundamental and critical to moving the real estate sector towards sustainability.

He explained that with huge externalities, the market cannot internalise at the onset, hence, the need to provide a regulatory framework and promote industry self-regulation through incentives.

He said: “Sustainable buildings confer huge benefits to the environment, the economy – one of the major sources of economic growth in developed countries – replacements of ageing infrastructure, green jobs to facilitate sustainable supply chain, wellbeing and productivity for occupants, developers and real estate sector itself.”

Ebohon said what is expected of the real estate sector was a 36 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by 2030 to remain under the two-degree Celsius target.

Ebohon, who presented the keynote speech, expressed doubt about achieving the target with the business as usual approach.

He said: “It is not all doom, though slow, some progress is being made presently as more than 50 per cent of new commercial properties are built to sustainable or green standards. Use of new technologies and other Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) have resulted in savings up to 44mt equivalent of CO2.

“In most developed countries, two-pronged approaches are being used to target new build and retrofitting old building stocks to sustainable standards.

“In developed countries, efforts are concentrated on retrofitting old buildings to sustainable standards, while new buildings can readily be designed to use 30-50per cent less energy than required.”

The Managing Director, 3INVEST, Ruth Obih, said the built environment is wakening to its responsibility as a key player in sustainability with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) becoming an ever-growing factor in how industry members carry out their business.

Obih said getting stakeholders to embrace sustainability at all levels in the cycle will not be an easy task and may not happen overnight. “This is why we have established a community of real estate professionals, who are passionate about sustainable development through the launch of United ESG Community.”

The community, she said, will advocate for strategies that lead to more green buildings, recognise organisations that are taking the lead in sustainability and lobby for sustainability regulations, policies and better incentives for the network.

Speaking during a session on sustainable building-land use, regulations, design, planning and construction, the Managing Director, Dutum Construction Company Limited, Temitope Runsewe, urged the Federal Government to create policies and legislation that would assist the built industry in adopting sustainable practices.

Runsewe said the industry needs to self-regulate, adding that the long-term benefits of implementing sustainable solutions in the real estate and construction sectors outweigh immediate costs.

He said: “We need to start thinking about a future where our construction techniques help the environment and everyone’s well-being. According to data, whatever additional costs are incurred today to make buildings more sustainable will be saved in the long run.”

The Managing director, New Frontier said mortgage and REITS could be used to drive sustainability in the built sectors. He stated that government has a big role to play, stressing that there was a need for engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to develop policies that ensure that whatever financing instrument is being created has a sustainability plan built into it.

For Sonola, before any project can be classified as green, it must have met certain criteria with regards to energy efficiency, and green efficiency and must be third-party certified.

The dignitaries’ event includes Head of Real Estate Development, Clifton Homes, Holger Adam, Managing Director, UPDC, Odunayo Ojo, Chief Executive Officer, Karmod, Hakeem Sagaya, Chief Executive Officer, Landmark Africa, Paul Onwanibe, Chief Executive officer, Eximia Realty, Hakeem Ogunniran, Head of Real Estate finance, West Africa Stanbic IBTC, Tola Akinhanmi, Lagos representative, International Finance Corporation, Temilola Sonola, Managing Director, New Frontier, Hassan Usman and others.

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