What would it take to have more green buildings in Kigali?

The words ‘green buildings’are hard to miss duringtalks and projections of the ideal City of Kigali in coming years. What would it take to actualize the projections and plans?

The City of Kigali is urging real estate developers to consider investing in green buildings as Rwanda moves to include green buildings as part of the green economy.


A green economy is a low carbon and resource-efficient economy driven by investments that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy, and resource efficiency.


City officials say that there is need for structures that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient from design, construction, maintenance and renovation.


Marie Solange Muhirwa, the Chief of Urban Planning in Kigali city said noting ‘Nyarutarama Plaza’ is the first certified green commercial Building completed in Kigali. 

It has been certified as an environmentally sustainable commercial building, with the attainment of the Green Mark certification from Building and Construction Authority based in Singapore.

The construction started in 2017. It is currently owned by RSSB, designed by GMK architects and constructed by Real Contractors Limited. 

 The five storey building with two basement floors, could save 184, 515 kWh (15%) energy per year, 1, 183 cubic metres (47%) per year and reduce 92.26 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

The Chief of Urban Planning noted  that the popular Vision City project phase two is  also complying with the green and smart city concepts adding that  the Kigali Green Complex (In former Centre Culturel Franco-Rwandais plot) will  also be a green and smart building.

“Green buildings are the solution to the problem of high energy and water consumption. Green buildings create spaces that promote health and comfort,” she said.

In order to increase more green buildings in the city, she said that the enforcement of Rwanda Green Building Minimum Compliance regulations will be applied.

“There is a need for capacity building of construction sector stakeholders on green building best practices and achieving regulatory requirements,” she noted.

Muhirwa recommends architects and engineers to consider green concepts during the design stage.

Kigali Master Plan 2050 Zoning Regulations highlights the incentives for developers related to Green Buildings

She said the city of Kigali may at its discretion, can permit a certain additional number of floors, after proper assessment, where the developer demonstrates or provides Sustainable building design technology and sustainable construction methods as per Green Building Minimum Compliance.

Developers speak out

Jean Marie Vianney Kamiya, The Managing Director of GMK architects that designed Nyarutarama Plaza said that besides energy saving efficient lights and water saving, it maximizes natural ventilation and natural day lighting into buildings while wastewater is reused for different purposes such as garden irrigation.

He said the building was designed in a way that reduces heat and usage of air-conditioning. 

“Installation of highly efficient water and sanitation fittings and strategy to reduce the use of potable water results in more than 47 per cent of water savings,” he said.

For landscaping, drought-tolerant native vegetation was planted.

Olivier Kabera, the Managing Director of Real Contractors Limited (RCL) that constructed the plaza that local materials such as Ruliba Clays, natural granite, stones, cement and others were preferred to lower carbon footprint.

 “We had no technical know-how on green building principles. That is why we invited Green A Consultants, a Singapore based sustainability consultancy firm to assist us to adopt green building features as the idea to make the project green certified came when the building was at a mature stage, ” he said.

He added that green technology used includes lifts installed with Variable Voltage Variable Frequency (VVVF) Lift Drive, installation of LED lights and sensors that lead to use of less water in washrooms.

He added that environmentally friendly paints reducing risks of respiratory illness and other body effects were also used.

“Being the 1st local contractor to initiate and implement a sustainable certified green commercial building in Rwanda gives us more confidence for future execution of similar projects” he said.

Yves Sangwa, the CEO of Rwanda Green Building Organization promoting green building emphasizes that a Rwandan green building certification will be available in the beginning of 2021.

Integration into construction permits

Pudence Rubingisa, Mayor of Kigali City said that the city is also planning to include the use of green energy in requirements to people applying for construction permits in line with the new master plan.

 Infrastructure Minister, Claver Gatete said that the new Kigali city master plan will continue to enhance greenery, biodiversity and put efforts to protect and enhance green spaces.

“To adapt to climate change, global temperature, the master plan put in place various mitigations,” he said.

Buildings in Rwanda account for 14  per cent of all gas emissions.

Rwanda looks to have a climate resilient and low carbon economy by 2050 including  green buildings.


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