The case for adopting Green Building practices in Nigeria

Image credits: Pixabay

According to HSBC’s ‘Fragile Planet Report 2018’, Nigeria ranked the 15th most vulnerable country to climate change globally. Given the historic failures of successive Nigerian governments to proactively respond to such economic/social/environmental threats even with repeated warnings from our contemporaries in the West (e.g. Ex-President Obama’s repeated announcements of a reduction of US dependence on foreign oil which consequently led to zero barrel purchases of Nigerian crude for the first time in decades in July and August 2014, to catastrophic effects), the onus is on Nigerian individual and corporate citizens to seize the initiative to adopt practices that help mitigate the imminent effects of climate change.

Climate Change                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Image credits: Pixabay

Given the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change which manifests itself through rising temperatures, altered hydrological (water) cycles and extreme weather events, with corresponding risks to the integrity of energy, food and water systems, the common sense adage of prevention is better/cheaper than cure needs to prevail, if for nothing, for the simple fact that we simply do not have the capacity to respond to challenges that even more advanced countries such as the US struggle to cope with. Take the recent California fires for example.

Nevertheless, one area that we can take immediate preventive action and achieve some quick wins is by making slight changes to our prevailing building construction practices via the adoption of the concept of ‘Green Building’ which is defined by the Green Built Alliance as,

the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and of reducing impacts on human health and the environment for the entire lifecycle of a building’.

According to the IFC, buildings account for 40% of energy consumption and 19% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions globally. By incorporating clean energy and energy/resource efficiency early on at the planning, design and build stages of property development, we can lock in utility cost savings, as well as reduce resource consumption and GHG emissions for decades to come.

According to IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou, out of a total $29.4 trillion Climate Investment potential up to 2030 in emerging markets, there is a $24.7 trillion investment potential for Green Buildings alone representing a whopping 84% of the total climate investment opportunities. Furthermore, in its analysis of 21 emerging markets, the IFC’s Climate Investment Opportunities Report estimates the commercial investment potential in the construction of low-carbon buildings in Sub-Saharan Africa at nearly $153BN, with Nigeria’s climate smart investment potential at over $104BN from 2016–2030 in selected sectors, even as the IFC itself has committed about $300BN in Green Building investments over the same period.

Source: IFC

The IFC posits that the value of green buildings is particularly important in emerging markets such as Nigeria, where utility bills can consume up to 20 percent of a moderate-income family’s disposable income, and resources such as clean energy and water are scarce. To address these issues, the IFC created the Green Building Market Transformation Program which addresses the gap in the market by introducing a clear green building standard and low-cost rating system called EDGE which outlines the benefits to developers, owners and banks, in order to unlock the potential for an era of green construction and development.

Unfortunately, one of the main inhibiting factors to the full scale adoption of green building practices in Nigeria is the perception that they cost considerably more to design and build. This could not be further from the reality, particularly given falling technology costs. The World Green Building Council’s The Business Case for Green Building Report showed that while the actual cost ranges from negative .5 percent to 12 percent higher, the perception is that it is from 1 percent to 30 percent higher. In my use of the EDGE green building software to model a building for a client, I found that it cost just about $2,000 extra to achieve the minimum standards to achieve green building certification for a building with a footprint of 150sqm.

Following the realisation at the Paris Climate Conference that rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings (which are now responsible for over a third of anthropogenic emissions globally) would be critical to achieving the agreed upon limits of a global rise in temperature of no more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, massive financing instruments in the form of Green Bonds to undertake climate friendly investments such as green buildings have emerged. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, green bond issuance grew a steady 4 percent year-on-year to $162 billion in 2018. Green Mortgages offering finance to both developers and potential homeowners at about 0.5 to 2% less than the conventional rates, is another instrument being used to pivot the construction market towards a more sustainable future.

And as a further testament to the commitment of climate investors to the promotion and adoption of Green Building practices, GreenSquaremetre itself, through a strategic partnership with a Europe based climate focused crowdfunding platform, is able to facilitate cumulative financing of up €2.5MN (N1BN) per Nigerian SME property developer, to undertake green building projects according to IFC’s EDGE green building standard in Nigeria – which seeks to achieve a minimum of 20% less Energy and Water consumed in the building, as well as 20% less embodied energy in the materials used in construction.

Attempting to deliver Nigeria’s housing deficit of  over 17 million units using regular construction practices would be a massive opportunity lost to save at least  4.41 tCO₂/Year/Unit in operational CO2 emissions, 10.90 MWh/Year in energy savings, 39.28 m³/Year in water savings and 142242.10 MJ/Unit in embodied energy savings assuming an average aggregate floor space per unit of 150sqm.

Thank you for reading. Comments/questions/observations most welcome

P.S. to find out more about Green Buildings and how you can access financing for your projects; email with the subject; ‘Green Buildings’.

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