Architecture students from the Central University in Accra say they have started the new year with a clearer career focus following their participation in the Green Building Council of South Africa’s annual conference in Cape Town.
The students, Cheryl Omani-Baah, Olufemi Abodunrin and David Gifat Ampiaw, have a new perspective after the conference, placing a larger value on the importance of sustainable design.
Bringing their experience home to Ghana, the students aim to be change agents, inspiring their colleagues to design green and help the Ghanaian government enforce their new green building code.
The students told News Ghana in an interview that they were pleasantly surprised to see that people in Cape Town were so conscious of the environment.
“The property sector in Cape Town has gone far in making the city sustainable,” said Cheryl Omani Baah. “The materials that we normally throw away in Ghana are being reused in Cape Town and not as much waste is being produced. I hope that one day our building sector gets to the level where we are equally enthusiastic about saving the environment.”
Olufemi Abodunrin agreed. “What I gathered from the conference is that Cape Town is advanced in terms of green buildings and people are very conscious of protecting the environment.”
The students continued with how the experience in South Africa has helped to influence their interest in sustainable design.
“Since returning from the conference, I’ve been more focused on how to reduce carbon emissions,” said David Gifat Ampiaw. “I’ve also been sharing the knowledge I acquired at the conference with my peers to influence them to think of the environment as they design their projects.”
Cheryl Omani-Baah agreed. “Since we came back, I’ve been able to influence my mates to design in a new way. When we leave the classroom, we’re going to influence other architects, our friends and families to also go green. It really starts with one person spreading the concept.”
The students concluded their conversation with News Ghana with advice for architects to be more conscious of the environmental impacts of buildings when executing projects.
“In Ghana, we tend to design to fit what the client wants,” Cheryl Omani-Baah said. “We’re not thinking of how we may end up destroying the environment. In the design stage, we should inform the client of the environmental impact of the building and suggest a greener way. If we do that, we will help the entire economy of Ghana.”
David Gifat Ampiaw, Olufemi Abodunrin and Cheryl Omani-Baah are winners of the Architectural Design Competition organized by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its partners in July 2019.
The competition challenged students to design a cutting-edge, single-family home intended for a young family on the outskirts of Accra, using locally-available materials and IFC’s EDGE software. Homes had to reach the EDGE standard of a minimum savings of 20 percent less energy, water, and embodied energy in materials.
Winners of the competition travelled to Cape Town to attend the Green Building Council of South Africa’s conference in early October last year.