Construction stakeholders have been asked to promote energy efficiency in buildings, Lands, Housing and Urban development Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi has said.
Speaking during a three day workshop on “Integrating Sustainable Building Design into Curriculum for Higher Education in East Africa” in a Machakos hotel on Thursday, Kaimenyi said the challenge of losing natural energy through construction must be addressed.
Kaimenyi stressed the need to build environment friendly, energy saving and well-ventilated houses using locally available materials.
“The International Energy Agency estimates that on average, 42% of natural energy is used in buildings. The high energy need arise from rapid population growth, increasing urbanization and urban migration,” said Kaimenyi.
The CS pointed out that sustainable building and the greening of our existing buildings is one of our greatest economic and environmental opportunities the world has yet to grasp.
He urged Kenyans to heed the call, and preserve the earth’s non-renewable energy as stated in the UNs conference on Habitat held in Paris in November, December 2015.
Kaimenyi said there is need to substitute non- renewable sources of energy like charcoal and kerosene, with renewable sources like solar and wind.
He said the proposed National building policy, which is in its final stages will help solve the problem of energy lose through construction once passed into law.
The CS further added that the ministry is ready to engage all key stakeholders to ensure that issues of policies, legislation and regulation are put in place and executed.
Speaking during the workshop, Un Habitat Coordinator, Urban Basic Services, Andre Dzikus, noted that the growing gap between the demand and supply for energy is a major cause for concern in Sub-Saharan countries.
Andre noted that access to affordable energy is a limiting factor for economic growth as huge amounts of energy is wasted every day during the construction and the operation of buildings.
“It is estimated that the building sector in Africa consume around 56% of the total national energy supply, making it the biggest consumer of energy compared to other sectors such as transport industry” said Dzikus.
He regretted that majority of modern buildings in Sub-Saharan Africa are replicas of buildings designed for the western world with cold and temperate climates.
Dzikus said the intergovernmental panel on climate change has singled out that the building sector has a great potential to address climate change.
He further said that the project has developed different information and training tools that could be used to enhance training of sustainable architecture in E.A universities.
“As the debate for urban de-carbonization rages, future students ought to be prepared for the low carbon efficiency, and the use of renewable energy sources,” said Dzikus.
Chairman of the Department of architecture, University of Nairobi, Prof Musau Kimeu, reiterated the need to sensitize Kenyans on the designs that work well on our climates and those which do not work.
Kimeu raised concern that the architectural trend has drastically changed over the years, with many modern architects incorporating more glass on the walls surfaces.
“Too much glass leads to overheating. Glass is not supposed to come into direct contact with sunlight, and should constitute only 20 to 40 percent of the entire wall surface,” said Kimeu
The key objective of the workshop was to address the root cause of poor environmentally sound architectural design by mainstreaming and strengthening sustainable architectural design into curriculum of higher learning institutions in E.A.
The workshop was organized by UNEP, GEF and the five EAST African Nations, and is designed to address the different challenges facing the building sector.
By Rachael Kilonzo