African countries urged to formulate energy codes for the building sector to reduce emissions

By Wallace Mawire

 African countries have been urged to formulate energy codes for the building sector to enable reduction of emissions.

 The call has been made as part of Africa’s roadmap for transforming the  buildings and construction sector.

 According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, the large housing backlog and growing demand in Africa can be viewed as both a huge challenge and a tremendous opportunity to expand economic activity and create millions of jobs.

 It is also reported to be an opportunity to transform the sector
into a resource efficient, resilient and low emissions sector.

 Also according to Jonathan Duwyn,Programme Officer, Buildings and Construction Cities Unit, Energy and Climate Branch, Economy Division at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),in 2018, the African buildings sector accounted for 61% of final
energy use and 32% of energy related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, excluding emissions from manufacturing building materials.
It is reported that the Paris Agreement Goals cannot be achieved without decarbonising buildings.
It is also added that most countries in Africa do not have energy
codes for buildings.
Building energy codes are reported to be a key instrument to reduce emissions from the buildings sector.
Duwyn says that to date, most African countries at least 68% mention buildings, although most National Development Commitments (NDCs) still do not include explicit actions to address buildings sector energy use and emissions.
He says that the Africa roadmap aims to support governments in their NDC development by providing an illustration of the pathway towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient building stock.

  He adds that half of the buildings standing in 2060 have not yet been built.

  Duwyn says that the current housing backlog in the African continent accounts for at least 51 million units, with large variations across countries.

  It is added that in Africa, rapid population growth and urbanization is increasing demand for new buildings and infrastructure.

  Floor area in Africa is expected to double between now and 2050, over 90% of which will be in the residential sector.

  In the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) region, population is projected to increase by 100 million over the next two decades and will require an additional 800 000 housing units each year.

  It is added that the large housing backlog and growing demand in Africa can be viewed as both a huge challenge and a tremendous opportunity to expand economic activity and create millions of jobs.

And an opportunity to transform the sector into a resource efficient, resilient and low emissions sector.

 It is also reported that only Morocco and Tunisia have mandatory building codes in place that cover the entire buildings sector.Ghana and Nigeria have codes that cover part of the sector,Egypt and South Africa have voluntary codes,Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, the Gambia, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda are developing building code standards.The remaining 38 countries in Africa are reported to yet implement building energy codes.

 It is added that most African countries have referenced buildings/construction in their NDCs, but most lack a commitment to net zero and concrete targets and measures.

 According to World Bank, the total investment potential for clean energy based on existing national climate commitments in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa is nearly $783 billion, with buildings and transportation accounting for about $652 billion and renewable energy generation for about $123 billion.

 Duwyn outlines key actions which he says need to be put in place such as developing local roadmaps, developing and implementing mandatory building energy codes, avoiding need for space cooling, having governments lead by example on public procurement and reducing embodied carbon.

 Policy makers are urged to develop performance-based building codes and consider including into NDCs elements such as passive design to reduce cooling demand, resilience, life cycle approaches and low-carbon materials.

  For designers such as planners, architects and engineers it is reported that the key to achieving efficient, low-carbon, cost-effective housing lies in the design stage, which in turn can be most influenced by building codes.It is added that national NDC buildings and construction roadmaps should be modelled on GlobalABC roadmaps and applying GlobalABC’s guide for incorporating buildings actions in NDCs.It is reported that a toolkit is under development.

  It is reported that Vietnam and Cambodia will be the first pilot countries to use the tool kit for energy building codes which is under development.It is also added that the NDC roadmap translates the NDC building sector targets into tangible targets and measurable actions, they also help identify common goals, targets and timelines for key actions across eight key activities.

Governments are also reported to provide orientation and guidance to key stakeholders which include academia and civil society based on the roadmap.The NDC roadmap is considered to be a steering instrument, subject to regular revisions, precisions and updates.

 It is also reported that a key challenge in developing national roadmaps is lack of data.

   It is added that the process for developing energy codes should be a country driven process, implemented by a national team, with stakeholder involvement, alignment with national development objectives,building on and strengthening existing and planned national buildings and construction activities, bringing together all efforts under one umbrella to enhance synergies and coordination and striving towards implementation of the NDCs.

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