AAR Hospital Solar System
AAR Hospital Solar System. [Photo/ Courtesy]

More than USD5 million (Ksh585 million) is being saved annually in utility costs throughout Kenya because of green building modifications and designs that allow for large-scale energy efficiencies, research has shown. 

The figures, released by EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), an innovation of IFC, relate directly to buildings within Kenya that are EDGE certified – a green building certification system which focuses on making buildings more resource-efficient.  

The research demonstrates how sustainable buildings are dramatically reducing energy and water use to generate substantial monetary savings every year.    

Within the monetary savings of USD 5 million is a reduction of 392,938 m3 of water usage each year, which is the equivalent of more than 157 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Green buildings also produce energy savings of 11,811 MWh per year, which is enough to power a city the size of New York City for an entire day.

Dennis Papa Odenyi Quansah, the Green Building Lead for Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, at IFC said: “These figures demonstrate how green buildings can generate a dramatic reduction in power usage which equates to impressive monetary savings. The reduction in utility costs can often exceed the initial design and construction outlay and have a reasonably quick return on investment.”

“Green buildings can now be delivered at prices comparable to those for conventional buildings which means we’re seeing a rise in the number of affordable homes now becoming EDGE certified in Kenya, as well as student accommodation.”

The data covers a range of different kinds of buildings, including Nairobi’s AAR Hospital, which generates 20% of its power using solar panels hidden on its roof. They are one of a number of energy-saving measures which are helping generate annual savings of USD 90,000. Other buildings included in the data are warehouses, residential homes, and offices. Each of these has reduced their energy use by around 20% compared to the local baseline, which is a requirement to gain certification.  

Since launching in Kenya in 2015, 22 buildings covering 374,334m2 have achieved EDGE certification. Some of these buildings are still under construction, whilst a majority have already been built.  

But it is not just the known benefits to the environment which green buildings are impacting. Research shows that green buildings and their indoor environments can improve worker productivity and occupant health and well-being.   

South African study in 2018 showed green, well-ventilated offices provide better health for workers due to the improved indoor quality.  

Dennis Papa Odenyi Quansah added: “Kenya’s Green Building Market is nascent, and the market development has been gradual. The certified green build market was 3% of new builds in 2020 but we are very pleased to see how momentum is gathering in a relatively short period of time with more and more new builds seeking EDGE certification. The floor space registered to achieve certification as of March 2022 is 281,910, 86% more than last year.”  

“To become EDGE certified, we require a minimum of 20% reduction in water use on top of the 20% reduction in energy use, and a 20% reduction in embodied energy in materials. For the latter, this can mean using hollow concrete slabs instead of solid concrete slabs. We don’t insist on how these savings are achieved; we are trying to democratise the green building space and ensure each building works for each developer.”   

EDGE is an innovation of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. It empowers emerging markets to scale up resource-efficient buildings in a fast, easy, and affordable way. The certification has the goal of reducing the environmental impact of buildings in three main areas. These include direct energy consumption, water consumption, and the embodied energy of construction materials.   

Developers can make decisions about what modifications to include by using the free EDGE software, which details how much energy or water will be saved as a result of installing each measure e.g., low flow faucets, efficient light bulbs, or even solar panels.    

In 2020, Kenya issued a decree that all affordable housing development projects under the nation’s “Big 4” agenda must meet the EDGE Green Buildings standard. The Government will provide developers with free land to build affordable housing projects that meet the government’s commitment to resource-efficient structures. The decree was enacted by Kenya’s State Department of Housing & Urban Development in the Ministry of Transport.

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