Even in the intense noonday heat, the new library at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Kenya's capital stays cool - but without an air conditioner in sight. Instead, stones in the basement absorb moisture from the ground that creates a cooling effect as it evaporates, and the building's large windows and doors are protected from the sun's heat by shades. The building's energy-efficient design has won it an award this year from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers' Centre for Energy Efficiency as the best green building in the country.
Meanwhile, the University of Nairobi Architectural and Building Department took the same group's Green Architecture award for promoting the design of green buildings in Kenya.
Environmentalists and architectural organisations are working hard to promote green design throughout Kenya and to position their country as a leader in sustainable construction and energy-efficient design, even as they admit that businesses are slow to take on board the advantages being touted.
"The building is airy and well lit with natural light during the daytime. Its orientation is along the east-west axis of the sun that allows natural lighting, and hence minimising energy demand," said Hiab Gebreselasie, who manages the Catholic University library.
The library is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and needs no artificial light, even in its basement. It harnesses the prevailing winds for natural ventilation, and collects and stores rainwater to use within the building. Green buildings are designed to use natural sustainable materials, be energy efficient and reduce water use.
GREEN BUILDING STANDARDS
Green Africa Foundation, (GAF) a local nongovernmental organisation, has developed a "Green Mark" standards for buildings and provides guidelines for best practices for environmentally friendly design. The new standards cover the sustainability of building sites, water conservation, energy efficiency, construction materials, indoor air quality, innovation, operation and maintenance. GAF plans to start offering certification of green buildings in the near future.
NB: Press Cutting Service
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