THREE talented architecture students from the Central University in Accra have urged stakeholders in the building industry to adopt EDGE (“Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) to design and certify more sustainable buildings.
According to them, EDGE is easy to use and guides the best ways to improve the energy and water efficiency of buildings.
David Gifat Ampiaw, Olufemi Abodunrin, and Cheryl Omani-Baah were the talented young architects selected and fully sponsored by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to attend the 2019 GBCSA green building convention in Capetown earlier this month. Having navigated the EDGE Green Building tool to design sustainable housing projects the students had the opportunity to hear from world-class green building experts during the event in South Africa.
The project was funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) with technical support provided by SGS and thinkstep in the UK.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the students reflected upon their experiences and learning during the competition and event. They gained a greater understanding of the need for the building industry to act urgently to design better buildings in Ghana that are resource-efficient. Ninnette Quao Fio, a lecturer at the Architecture Department of the Central University, accompanied her students to the conference to experience first-hand how professionals using EDGE to certify their buildings will help achieve a better-built environment.
An innovation of IFC, EDGE is an online platform and certification system, which helps to build professionals to determine the most cost-effective options for designing green within a local climate context. EDGE can be used for new construction, existing buildings and major retrofits. EDGE requires 20 percent less energy and water use, as well as 20 percent less embodied energy in materials compared to a base case building. Builders who certify with EDGE gain a promotional advantage, with customers benefiting from lower utility bills.
The Importance of Green Buildings
Mr. Ampiaw urged stakeholders in the building industry to design green to ensure that the existence of unborn generations are not jeopardised.
“We need to think about the future. If you look at what’s happening in the housing sector, most professionals are not focused on green design. The question must be asked: ‘is what you are designing actually going to help the environment?’”
Mr. Ampiaw recounted that one of the topics at the conference focused on consistency. “What I learned is that being sustainable is not enough. We have to give back to the environment by designing positive buildings that contribute through harvesting what nature has provided while restricting the materials needed for structures.”
Mr. Ampiaw added that the effect of not designing sustainably will be seen by the next generation as incompatible with best business practice.
Creating a Dialogue on Green Buildings
Mr. Abodunrin urged Ghanaian students and stakeholders in the building industry to join the global trend towards a more sustainable future. Ghanaian architecture students needed to connect to the conversation on green buildings, he said.
“Green technology products are heading to Africa at cheaper rates and without the knowledge of their harmful effects. Africa is still asleep on this topic,” Mr. Abodunrin said.
EDGE as the Future
The built environment is expected to double by 2050 due to high population growth and urbanisation trends. This has serious implications for global warming, as buildings already generate 19 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consume 40 percent of electricity.
To address the opportunity for green buildings, Switzerland, through its State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), provided funding for IFC’s EDGE program in Ghana.
The intention is to have a generational impact by increasing the use of EDGE to encourage greener building practices.
The first EDGE-certified buildings in Ghana include the Atlantic Tower by Wahhab Estate Co. Ltd in the Airport City enclave of Accra, as well as the new Tema Port Expansion Project and the Terminal 3 at the harbour.