Opinion: Green Approaches to building

February 12, 2019 By Chris Coulson


1. Why are green approaches to building expected to gain interest of prospective homeowners?

Garden City has sustainability at its core and will be the first mixed-use development in East Africa to gain LEEDTM Building Design & Construction Core and Shell (BD+C 2009) certification, leading the way, and hoping to encourage future green developments to follow suit. In its commitment towards energy efficiency, the development has Africa’s largest solar panel covered car canopy located on the roof of the Garden City Mall. The system is designed to produce an annual output of 1,245,591 kWh that translates in an annual saving of USD 112,103.19.

Globally there is a greater awareness of the need for humans to live in an environmentally sustainable way, and one needs only look at the increasing consumer demand for ‘clean’ cars and fuel, the proliferation of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and their suppliers, development of more efficient energy use for household appliances and white goods such as washing machines and fridge-freezers, demand for safe disposal of household waste and recycling of paper and plastics, etc, to begin to understand how strong the ‘green’ label might become in motivating both consumers and prospective homeowners.

2. What were the requirements for construction of such property?

Garden City has followed the guidelines laid out by the internationally recognised LEEDTM for the retail development and Green StarTM  SA-Kenya rating for the residential development and has been continually assessed throughout the design and construction phases, to ensure that they receive certification from both bodies upon completion of the project.

Garden City is the first mixed-use development in Kenya to target green building rating as part of its master plan. The retail development is pre-certified to LEEDTM Gold and is targeting LEEDTM for its official rating. The residential developments are targeting Green Star, 4-star rating. Garden City residential is the first in Kenya to adopt the Green Star rating tool and the development has played a key role in setting the benchmark for future Green Star developments in Kenya.

3. How are these buildings different from the usual buildings?

Green buildings not only use eco-friendly materials (for example Actis has specified the use of timber that is certified environmentally, so that FSC wood has been used throughout the project), locally sourced materials (reducing transport costs and carbon footprint), and non-toxic materials wherever possible, which therefore do not cause damage to the environment, but also incorporate energy-saving features in terms of passive design and use of technology. In addition, at least 1% of the project contract value is represented by re-used materials, which prolongs the useful life of existing products and materials and encourages uptake of products with recycled content.

The design incorporates on-site energy generation systems (eg. solar panels) utilising 2,180KVA stand-by generators that meet the EPA Tier III emission standards that provided for full power backup, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as compared to other energy sources, and bringing costs down for residents. Designs that ensure strong use of natural light reduce the need for artificial lighting, open spaces that need no ventilation and will stay cool without the need for air-conditioning, nearby amenities reduce the need to travel by car, safe cycle paths and facilities for cyclists to store bicycles encourage bicycle use, and greater energy efficiency of appliances (the target is for major appliances in 90% of the homes be certified with a minimum ‘B’ rating of the European ‘energy rating’ labelling system) ultimately means reduced cost to the homeowner.

Garden City has a range of features that ensure the home design and building fabrics minimise greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating and cooling energy consumption, and increased lighting efficiency and hot water generation efficiency. With the use of water harvesting and recycling/reuse systems, the target is to reduce the potable water demand for toilet flushing by a minimum of 75%, as well as designs to reduce the use of water for landscape irrigation, and potable water used for the development’s fire protection and essential water storage systems.

The infrastructure for waste management within the Garden City development is designed to reduce the amount of water going to disposal. This has been achieved through the development of a comprehensive waste management plan and user guide provided to tenants that advises and guides the tenants on the importance of recycling, reuse and ultimately responsible disposal of waste. To reduce its water discharge to sewers the development has installed water-efficient sanitary fittings and toilets that reduce the amount of water used.

4. What is the cost difference in constructing such a building?

The cost of developing “green” to Green Star – 4 Star rating and LEED Silver ratings are achievable at no extra cost. The important thing is to ensure that the sustainability consultants are engaged during the concept phase of the development that way all costs are maintained within the project budget.

How will it save on future bills and other costs? (see answer above for this question)

5. Are there developers who are looking to adopt green building methods locally?

Garden City has played a pivotal role in advancing the green building agenda in Kenya. As a result, the market transformation has seen local developers adopting the practice who initially thought it was a preserve uniquely of international developers.

The practice does not stop with the developers however. Manufacturers have also now begun producing and branding their products as sustainable, including products such as paints and steel.


For more information visit actis.com


Garden City is Kenya's first integrated residential, retail and office (mixed-use) development, offering over 400 apartments, duplexes & family villas, an international shopping mall, 60,000 square metres of office space, a modern business hotel and state-of-the-art medical centre. And at its heart, a three acre central park, with a children's play area and generous lawns and gardens.

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