Top 10 Greenest Buildings in Africa

Eric Mutema|Africa Energy
Sat, 30-Sep-2017, 04:05

The number of Africans living in informal settlements is estimated to be over 200 million. These are the ones continuously migrating from rural to urban areas in search of brighter economic opportunities. In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it is estimated that up to 70% of the population lives in informal settlements. These settlements are so poorly designed that even economic, social, and environmental stability is at risk. Nevertheless, Sub-Saharan Africa is among the fastest-growing regions of the world, expanding at 4.5 percent per year. Countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia, and Tanzania are expected to reach 7 percent. The number of Africans joining the working age is expected to exceed that of the rest of the world combined by 2035. This rapid growth in economics and population comes with a significant boom in construction projects across the continent.

Most of them are just the normal brick and mortar buildings, but some dare to break out of the mold and prioritise environmental impact in the construction.

Here are ten greenest buildings that we have identified.

Ghana Ridge Hospital

LEED certification is a prestigious rating for environmentally conscious buildings. This is what Ghana hoped to achieve when it commissioned Ghana Ridge hospital in Accra. They had little hope in achieving it though. This is because much of the infrastructure that supports green buildings in US. and Canada, where LEED is most common, is not available in Ghana. The situation called for a rethink of what a green building should be, and, in turn, led to Africa’s first LEED for a healthcare-certified hospital.

The architects, Perkins+Will, improvised for ways to design and build with what was locally available. They first went for natural ventilation, as they couldn’t rely on a complex and expensive HVAC system. They then went on to include outdoor rooms for large groups.

It is also equipped with a solar hot water heater, which is encouraged by the hot Accra climate; this helps curb reliance on electricity. Accra is still a developing city with immense infrastructural and resource challenges, and electricity is unreliable. When the project began back in 2004,  the city had a total of 159 days of blackouts in the year. Solar in Ghana Ridge keeps it running in event of the interruptions.

The limited power brings forth another opportunity: the layout of the building. Elevators weren’t possible because of their power draw, so the architects designed a long, stout building. A prominent feature in the design is a fully walkable ramp that connects the four stories.

The building is also not connected to the city’s water supply;  instead, all the water used is either trucked in or harvested on site. In the rainy seasons, water is collected and stored in cisterns buried underneath the hospital.

The design of the hospital was inspired by the Kente cloth- an icon of African heritage around the world, as well as part of the local weaving culture in Ghana. Like the cloth, the design makes use of patterning, layering, and vibrant colours throughout the building.

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