Green and Sustainable building in Africa
Going Green is an intriguing concept that has become quite popular in recent years. But what does it actually mean to go ‘green’?
This term refers to the pursuit of environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible lifestyles. which are vital in order for us as humans to sustain our natural resources. It is doing your part on environmental conservation efforts by changing certain habits. Recycling waste materials instead of throwing them out into landfills. Using energy saving equipment, such as solar lighting, or energy bulbs. And also striving to reduce on wastage such as excessive water usage.
Historical aspect of sustainable building practices
From centuries past, Africa has had sustainable building practices. But many got lost to colonialism or modernization in recent times. and due to lack of adequate preservation of this ancient knowledge. Some of these practices are now adopted to fit modern methods of construction
Sustainable construction techniques are an important part of any green building initiative. Let’s look at some of these practices, still being utilized in Africa;
- Mud brick buildings and earthen architecture: Mud bricks are made combining water with soil, sourced locally. They have excellent thermal properties that make them perfect for absorbing heat during the day. They release it at night so homes stay cool in the hot seasons.
- Adobe brick making: This method uses clay combined with sand and straw as insulation against heat loss. It has low labor costs because materials can be easily found on site (a pit oven dries bricks). Clay has been used for centuries all over the world. It’s not only to make bricks and roof tiles, but also as flooring and for plastering walls. It is a natural insulator that cools in the heat, and retains warmth during winter months.
- Roofs protect buildings from rainwater damage and other weather elements. In Africa, traditional roofing materials include straw raffia, palm leaves, sugar cane leaves. Baked clay is also used as a roofing material. In fact, many traditional homes in Africa still use natural material coverings today.
- Bamboo is an ancient sustainable building material. Many cultures in Africa have used it for countless purposes. It is quite a versatile plant. Besides being one of the fastest growing woody plants, it can grow in almost any type of soil. It is a lightweight and flexible material. It’s still used for flooring, roofing, walls, and using it as scaffolding rather than steel beams, etc.
The significance of these building practices cannot be under estimated. They have proved sustainable in many cultures and communities for centuries. Using locally sourced materials also reduces transportation requirements. This leads to decreased energy consumption, and keeping CO² emissions down.
Adoption and assimilation of these practices
In today’s world of architecture there is a push for sustainable construction practices . With an emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation. This is drive is no longer only important in developed countries. Green concepts are now adopted and applied throughout Africa. Many are now embracing these ancient and sustainable building practices.
- The Eco beam and sandbag house is a creative and economic solution to housing. Created by a South African engineer, it’s one way for affordable housing across Africa. It’s built using inexpensive local materials that are easy on the environment. Labor is usually sourced from future residents. This system of strong building material replaces brick-and mortar with sandbags. These are cheaper than bricks and much quicker to set up. Yet offer strength and safety. This makes them effective at delivering cheap houses all over the world. This building practice has been adopted by developers in Northern Uganda. They’re currently constructing a multiple housing estate, using this system.
- Eco friendly construction materials are now being adopted all around the African continent. People are more conscious of environmental preservation and embracing cleaner, sustainable building practices. Some of these communities have taken up sustainable agricultural practices like permaculture. They also use renewable energy options such as solar to meet their power needs. The concept behind an eco village is simple: live in harmony with nature. Adopting environmentally friendly building practices helps remove the present large ecological footprint. With more eco friendly construction materials adopted in local communities, Africa can truly be a continent of hope and growth.
In the past, Africa boasted of a variety of sustainable and effective building practices. There is growing interest to adopt and put a modern twist to these ancient practices. But these sustainability resources are still dwindling due to lack of interest. Inadequate knowledge preservation of these valuable skills is another hinderance. The pressure and popularity of modern building practices is another. There’s an urgent need to sensitize people about Africa’s traditional building practices. And how they can fit into an environmentally friendly model for construction. We can help them understand why they should embrace and lean more to these practices. Instead of adopting and leaning towards more modern practices damaging to the environment.
“Going green” may not be the way you want to live your life. But it can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions. These choices protect our environment from natural resources for current generations as well as future ones. It means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly decisions and lifestyles. Going green is no longer a responsibility only for those who care about the environment. It’s a lifestyle that should be pursued by everyone regardless of age, race, gender or profession. To create sustainability on this planet and take care of what we have before it’s too late.