Lack of corporation hampering green building efforts

By Kelvin Chiringa
August 2016
Prime Business

Green Building Council Namibia chairperson Mr. Frederick Muketi laments the lack of corporation from government ministries, construction engineers, architects and tertiary institutions as hampering national efforts towards reducing the carbon foot print through the erection of eco-friendly infra-structure.

Speaking to this publication recently, Muketi who is an advocate for the embracing of green building for a sustainable economy and safe environment says despite the willingness by GIZ to fund testing laboratories and political will by government to necessitate the growth of a low carbon economy, the steps towards bringing this about are still at snail’s pace.

“Government ministries are having a hands-off approach and remain silent on the need to safe guard our environment through green buildings. Nobody’s hands is tied, they should come out of their cocoons,” he says.
While Namibia has the potential to create green cities and fall in line within Africa’s roadmap to sustainable development by turning environmental challenges like climate change into opportunities yet according to Muketi there lacks the much needed holistic approach.

“We are arguing that energy is only one aspect out of ten that are considered for a building and yet the way a building is built has something to do with sustainability so Ministry of Mines and Energy would be concerned with energy related issues on construction. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has its portion, The Ministry of water comes in and looks at water recycling and conservation on the construction site as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry,” he says

Muketi goes on to reiterate that people build their cities has a big bearing on the country and we need for a concerted effort by all stakeholders which span government ministries to tertiary institutions.
“Industry and universities must cooperate, how do we get material from around the construction sites if we do not have the laboratories to carry out tests on the suitability of this material? No structural engineer is going to accept material that has not been tested of their strength. We need them from the University of Namibia and although we have approached NUST but they have to respond faster,” he says.

Muketi emphasises that transporting material from far-away places to build on a construction site comes with huge costs as well as making room for the burning of fuel which would increase the carbon foot print.
Green buildings also known as green construction or sustainable building refers to both a structure and the using of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout a building’s life cycle.

This begins from citing to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
“The green star rating system assess the sustainability of projects at all stages of the built environment lifecycle. Ratings can be achieved at the planning phase for communities during the design , construction or fit-out phase of buildings, or during the ongoing operational phase,” said Muketi.

At present only two buildings have been certified since October 2015 while two existing buildings are currently under certification.
While Muketi believes Namibia is making progress towards going green yet the few number of buildings certified as green questions the national desire towards reducing the carbon foot print.

“I think we have the political will but the actions on the ground don’t match, and I sincerely hope that we get there, we should be somewhere else with the resources we have in this country because we have the sun which is free, which we can utilize and do everything greener. Our government has the right ideas and make pledges and commitments, but we need to catch up with our pledges and commitments,” says InnoSun Energy Holding Executive Director Usuta Imbili.

United Nations Climate Change Secretariat lead stakeholder Lucas Brusa hints on the need by all African countries to transform the problems of carbon emission and climate change into opportunities.

“Africa can easily become the world leader in low carbon development if it takes into consideration the existing opportunities of climate change impact mitigation measures,” he says.
He goes on the underscore that policy makers are aware of the conseqences of inaction on climate change.

According to Muketi green buildings have a great impact in benefiting the economy as well as addressing the impact of climate change which is one to the greatest challenges facing humankind.

“Eco-friendly infrastructure besides generating green jobs in the construction industry also reduce the deterioration of the few forests available as well as increasing green cover. Excess power generated from the renewable sources will be exported to funds for the development projects and recurrent expenditures,” says Muketi.

However despite a plethora of benefits green construction brings to an economy, Muketi laments the fact that in its fight against poverty and quest for prosperity, the GRN completely over looked the issue of transforming economic structures in the pursuit of a low carbon economy.
“It is lamentable that government does not address the concept of going green but we are not saying I is not ready to fund any such efforts, the problem is not with the President but us the people. We have to create dialogue around how we can establish green cities but even though the Harambe Plan is silent about green buildings, our role as the Green Building Council is to advocate for and educate the ministers and people on this issues,” he points out.

Meanwhile African policy makers and scholars in climate change and air pollution as well as investors thronged to Rwanda two months ago to deliberate on how best to transmogrify the vagaries of climate change into sustainable opportunities.