Architects push for tough policies for green growth

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Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, director-general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority, speaks during the meeting between government stakeholders and the Rwanda Institute of Architects as Innocent Kabenga, country director of Global Green Growth Institute, looks on in Kigali yesterday. (Photos by Nadege Imbabazi)

The association of architects has joined in one accord in urging the Government to strictly follow up the implementation of the Rwanda building code, with a particular focus of influencing property developers to build green and sustainable structures.

This was during a meeting between government and the Rwanda Institute of Architects (RIA).

The Tuesday meeting coincided with the launch of the Rwanda Green Building Organisation (RWAGBO).

The sustainable growth building body, a result of collaboration between RIA and Rwanda Housing Authority, will act as an intermediary catalyst of change between the private sector and government for environmentally-friendly infrastructure development.

The green building organisation is also meant to empower the local construction industry to transform the way building and communities are designed, built and operated, hence contributing to the realisation of the national sustainable development agenda, according to Eudeces Kayumba, head of RWAGBO.

‘Collaboration the way to go’

Kayumba said the organisation might not achieve its mandate—to pursue green growth—if policy-makers are not willing to collaborate with implementers in engaging property developers to respect the rules.

Green building (also known as sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the using of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle for green growth.

Green growth, on the other hand, describes a path of economic growth that uses natural resources in a sustainable manner. It is used globally to provide an alternative concept to typical industrial economic growth.

“We are ready to enforce what we have started. Rwanda green building organisation was started by building professionals; but we want to work with the government by putting in place standard green building regulations and policies, which will assist both the organisation and Government to achieve their respective goals,” Kayumba said.

Joe Oginga, an architect at Studio Landmark, said strong policies and hands-on practices will lead to the implementation of green building agenda.

“Sometime architects want to build sustainably but our clients have something else in their mind—(definitely our clients are “always right”), after all some clients are not the end users of what we design or build,” Oginga said.

“We always want to make building comfortable for the users but clients want something different. Strong policies will bridge the gap for green building in Rwanda.”

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Participants at the stakeholders meeting pose for a group photo yesterday. (Photos by Nadege Imbabazi)

Green growth in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the leading countries for green growth in Africa and a member country of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

Since 2012, GGGI has been collaborating with the Government through the Ministry of Infrastructure on national urban policy for green growth, to consolidate gains made in social development and accelerate growth while addressing sustainability challenges.

GGGI is also supporting the Government on the development of secondary cities as green cities, which have economic opportunities in terms of job-creation, green infrastructure and investments, anchored on low carbon and climate resilient urban planning.

Rwanda’s urbanisation faces challenges related to poor infrastructure, lack of access to electricity, and limited generation capacity.

These pose serious challenges to the country’s urban population, which is growing at a rate of 4.5 per cent – more than double the worldwide average.

According to the Second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013/18 (EDPRS II), in the area of green urbanisation, the Government aims to enhance the quality of life for Rwandans through sustained growth of 11.5 per cent, and drive urban green growth and development in other Rwandan cities.

Innocent Kabenga, GGGI’s country director, told The New Times that the green building organisation will facilitate Rwanda’s push for inclusiveness and sustainable urban green growth—since cities have become both drivers of energy consumption and central to the country’s development.

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An architect asks a question during the meeting between government stakeholders and the Rwanda Institute of Architects (RIA).

Didier Sagashya, director-general of Rwanda Housing Authority, said policies are in place for sustainable building, but acknowledges that follow-up on the implementation is wanting.

“We have the Rwanda building code and some property developers have adhered to it. We need to put in place strict measures to encourage sustainable building. I’m sure green building organisation will play a key role in this,” Sagashya said.

Green building permit in the offing

It is understood that Rwanda Housing Authority is set to add “Green building permit” as one of the prerequisites for private property builders as a way of encouraging green and sustainable building in the country.

However, Sagashya said the permit is still under development, noting that it would be among other basic conditions for those who wish to build private homes or properties for sale or rent.

“As we start this journey of green building, I encourage schools and architects to embrace the green growth concept because it means sustainable development,” Sagashya said.

Rwanda Environment Management Authority’s (REMA) director-general Coletha Ruhamya urged property developers to use locally produced building materials, which are affordable, use low energy and emit less or no green house gasses.

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Participants follow proceedings during the meeting between government stakeholder and the Rwanda Institute of Architects (RIA). 

Eng. Ruhamya is upbeat that the new organisation will help Rwanda to implement the recently adopted Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, by minimising the use of artificial air-conditioning equipment in houses—which emit dangerous greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that cause climate change.

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