Nairobi, 14 July 2014: UN-Habitat, the Kenya Property Developers Association, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the Architectural Association of Kenya, the Kenya Green Building Society and Italy’s “Politecnico di Milano” have delivered training in sustainable design principals and energy efficiency to building practitioners in Nairobi. 

The course addressed the emerging trend of developing healthier and smarter buildings by defining effective ways to utilize energy through introducing basic principles and for use in Kenyan climates. The participants, comprising of architects, engineers and developers, also learned how to implement these principles through a hands on studio session aimed at showcasing strategies for incorporating energy efficiency into site planning, building design and construction. 

The training was facilitated by international experts from Politecnico di Milano as well as local trainers from UN-Habitat, the University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.  It forms part of the programme Promoting Energy Efficiency in Buildings in East Africa implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the governments of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

The aims of the joint programme are: to mainstream energy efficiency measures into housing policies, building codes, housing finance and building practices in East Africa and to achieve considerable avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions as a result of improved building practices. East African governments have committed to use the knowledge developed by the programme to construct energy efficient buildings. 

According to UN-Habitat “energy used in buildings accounts for a significant percentage of national energy consumption. What is more is that over 50 per cent of the total energy generated in developing countries is used in urban buildings alone, consuming more energy than the transport or the industrial sectors. The building sector…accounts for 38 per cent of greenhouse gas emission worldwide, contributing significantly to climate change.” 

In addition, most new buildings in Sub Saharan Africa are replicas of buildings designed in developed world and do not take into consideration climatic differences. Inefficient design and construction using energy intensive materials, combined with poor understanding of building physics, thermal comfort, passive building principles and energy conscious behavior, have led to energy wastage in buildings. As a result, buildings are heavily reliant on artificial means for indoor comfort: lighting, ventilation, cooling and to some extent heating. With the demand for electricity increasing more rapidly than the supply and generation capacity in Africa, higher energy prices are coinciding with tremendous inefficiency in the use of energy, particularly in the housing sector. This tendency has led to energy becoming the limiting factor for sustainable development and economic growth in the recent years. 

The main target of the Promoting Energy Efficiency in Buildings in East Africaproject is to promote the construction of at least 400,000 energy efficient housing units by the end of the programme. This will be achieved through the provision of technical assistance on the design and implementation of new houses in the region.