•The country’s building code requires adherence to regulations on the greening of buildings and observing minimal environmental performance.
•However, the country is littered with tall buildings that are yet to come to terms with the country’s ambition on mitigating the harmful effects of environmental disruption.
Strict compliance with laws and regulations on the minimum environmental performance of new buildings in the country are the missing ingredients in efforts to meet energy needs and realize climate change adaptation interventions.
The country’s building code requires adherence to regulations on the greening of buildings and observing minimal environmental performance.
However, Kenya is littered with tall buildings that are yet to come to terms with the country’s ambition on mitigating the harmful effects of environmental disruption.
The building code now incorporates the concept of green buildings in designs, construction, operation, and maintenance.
This is a way of ensuring healthy environments by having the most efficient and least disruptive use of resources like land, water, energy and materials.
The building sector needs strengthening in terms of greening technologies and environmental protection, especially at the county and Constituency levels.
At these levels, many of the “constructors” are Members of the County Assemblies through the Ward funds, and CDFs, where buildings- police posts, classes and health centres- are constructed with very minimum standards.
The quality and standards of structures done through CDFs and Ward funds have gone down significantly, aided by poor supervision and approvals by the authorities.
Calls for the building and construction sector to fully embrace the greening route are on the rise, as both the country’s energy needs remain wanting and the government engages high gears towards environmental protection.
Article 43 (1) (c) requires that Kenyans have access to adequate housing with reasonable standards of sanitation, many of the buildings coming up especially the counties seem very old school and averse to these demands.
Many of them have been collapsing while others borrow very foreign though highly artistic and modern, designs unsuitable to the country’s regulations.
Note that since the COVID-19 onset, the building and construction sectors recorded one of the highest growth rates in recent years.
This contribution to environmental protection in the country is very critical.
More importantly in the helping reduce energy poverty in the country.
With the increasing population especially in the urban areas, energy consumption by the sector will continue to grow in a way that is not sustainable.
The country has done a lot in the diversification of the energy sector as a way of reducing energy poverty.
This has been done through a focus on renewable sources from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.
According to earlier Government records, the country’s effective power generation capacity is about 1664MW.
This comprises; hydro 770, geothermal 241, thermal 622, cogeneration 26 and wind 5.1 while the power demand stands at approximately 1,360MW.
This is also contained in the country’s green growth and blue economy strategies.
One of the challenges of poor implementation and compliance with the green building principle is individual tastes against reality.
Because of exposure and opulence, many building owners are aping foreign designs which are not necessarily fit for our environment.
Many buildings in the country have been abandoned or failed to get tenants simply because of failing to incorporate factors such as the direction of the sun and wind movement, inappropriate building materials or pure failure to consider energy-saving technologies in their design and construction.
In addition, Government should take a lead role in encouraging best environmental practices.
This includes ensuring that new government buildings embrace “green” building principles, giving tax rebates as an incentive to developers of green buildings or offering cash incentives to green building developers.
It could also help if the banking sector offered incentives in the form of lower interest rates to developers of green buildings.
UN-Habitat and professional bodies should also educate people on the advantages of green building.
Architects must lead from the front by designing environmentally friendly buildings while architectural curricula in local universities and colleges should put emphasis on sustainable architecture.
Studies have shown that green buildings have various benefits in environmental, financial and social terms.
Whereas environmentally friendly buildings are likely to cost slightly more than those that do not have environmentally friendly features, the extra construction costs are likely to be recovered through reduced energy running costs, and low-maintenance costs, among other things.
Environmentally conscious buildings lead to low long-term exposure to environmental problems, and low electricity or energy bills.