Green Building refers to “the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.” It is a practice that is generating debate in the Kenya at the moment. Steps are being taken to ensure the integration of the practice in Kenya’s construction.

The UN-HABITAT and Kenya Property Developers Association held a stakeholders forum meeting in Nairobi on February 25th 2014. Notable speakers included Joan Clos [Executive Director, UN-HABITAT], Robyn Emerson [CEO, KPDA] and Frank Ireri [Managing Director, Housing Finance].

Subjects discussed in the forum included:

1. Urban Planning

UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director underscored the need for proper planning for urban areas. The agency is working with authorities in urban Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. The planning process, according to Clos, should be informed by the growing urban population in Kenya. Poor planning of urban areas coupled with a rising number of Kenyans moving from rural to towns and cities would lead to increase in informal settlement in Kenya.

The government was challenged to formulate a national urban policy that would provide necessary guidance to the urbanization process in Kenya. The policy document would come in handy in reining in the growth of informal urban settlements. The policy would inform the central and county governments on the necessary infrastructure that ought to be put in place in order to sustain urban areas in Kenya.

The policies require regular review and adjustments in the provision of public services and the implementation of the economic policies against the constantly changing urban environment.

2. Serviced Land

Serviced Land refers to land that can be connected to trunk infrastructure such as water supply lines, electricity, sewerage and roads. From the forum, it was established that connectivity to these lines forms the backbone of sustainable urbanization in Kenya. However, currently, provision of these services form a significant proportion of developer’s capital expenditure. Consequently, this leads to higher prices of development.

From the UN-HABITAT and KPDA forum, the state was challenged to provide these trunk infrastructure in order to provide the foundation for green building technology in Kenya. Proper planning has to go into this in order for the connectivity to be meaningful.

3. Funding

The UN agency announced that it has set aside Ksh 605 million for urban planning purposes in Kenya, especially at the county levels. The main areas of focus are Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Housing Finance also announced that it has a US$ 20 million credit facility from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). US $ 4 million will be used to finance green building in Kenya. According to Frank Ireri, the initial project will be used to assess the market viability for green building in Kenya. Developers who will successfully utilized green technology through the fund will enjoy a 1% cut in the interest rate for every 500 units built.

For more information read related articles in Capital FM, The Star and The People