Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LIVE BLOG - Promoting Green Building Rating Systems in Africa - Introductory Session

The conference assembly hall with attending members.

The UN-Habitat Conference on Promoting Green Building Rating Systems in Africa opened this morning at the UN Compound in Grigiri, Kenya. Representatives from twenty African nations, seven countries from Europe, Asia, and North America, and delegates from the United Nations were in attendance as Inga Bjork-Klevby, Deputy Executive General of UN-Habitat welcomed the assembly and introduced the goals of conference:
"In the United States, the building industry is responsible for approximately 40% of the green-house gas emissions for the country. At present, there are no figures for African cities. How do you measure the effectiveness of green building strategies where little or no record is kept? The purpose of this conference is for participants to understand the available options in terms of sustainability so they can make informed decisions. It is not the responsibility of the people, but of you, the building industry - architects, engineers, builders, developers, and legislators - to generate and organize ideas to meet the challenges of the future of urbanization."
Tirop Kosgey, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Housing in Kenya echoed the sentiments of Bjork-Klevby:
"We need to harness the full potential of technology to address the effects of climate change and to build sustainably, to build smart infrastructure, and create robust building codes. We need to move beyond advocacy, and put into place, legal and legislative standards."
The opening remarks by both Bjork-Kevby and Kosgey were clear: accountability would be placed squarely on the shoulders of the building industry, and the only way to truly promote sustainable design in Africa is through collaboration, education, and the incorporation and enforcement of legislative guidelines.

The United Nations Building in Grigiri, Kenya.


  1. Thanks for blogging on this. One of the most important things is to make green building affordable. LEED standard is great for the very rich in the developed world, but is completely inappropriate for the majority of those in the developed and developing world. Hopefully you can blog more about what discussions are had on this topic.

  2. Agreed. There was a great session today on the relationship between a nation's GDP and the size of their building sector. The follow-up question was how small can a building sector be and still support a full-service green building council. Currently, New Zealand and South Africa are the smallest GDP's with full GBC's. Can these models be scaled down? Are there alternatives to GBC's?