23 September 2016

Namibia: Green Building for the Future

The Green Building Council is preparing a submission to the National Standards Institute for a green building code as part of a minimum set of requirement for the design and construction of buildings. Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Ministry of Works and Transport, Festus Mukete and a member of the Green Building Council said this week that the national building codes are typically the foundation of state and local building codes. "As such, state and local building codes shall also be followed to the maximum extent practicable." Mukete explained that this means that the new building codes will help the government in achieving development goals that have been set, such as the National Development Plans (NDP), Vision 2030 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

It also enforces environmental protocols such as the Paris Agreement on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "The benefits of building codes are to provide minimum standards for safety, health, and general welfare including structural integrity, mechanical integrity of buildings that includes sanitation, water supply, light, and ventilation and energy conservation among others" said Mukete. "It is about a well-regulated build environment, and for which building inspectors, designers, contractors, commissioners, renovators, and maintenance teams have a framework to operate" he said adding that this will help prepare the general requirements for conformity of buildings that take the environment into consideration. Workshops have been organised by the Namibia Standards Institute involving various stakeholders for adoption of a green building code. "However major policy makers from other big players are normally absent namely the Ministries of Works and Transport, Urban and Rural Development.

Mines and Energy, and Housing, and the National Housing Enterprise, another semi-autonomous state-owned enterprise." Mukete said. Representations from selected operatives rather than policy making organisations are being selected to incorporate Renewable Energy Technologies and Energy Efficiency Principles as presented by consultants assigned by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. A new building that is vying to outperform the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre in terms of "greenness" is the newly-built Ministry of Mines and Energy regional offices in Swakopmund. It will soon be incorporated into the Green Building Council's catalog as a six-star rated building. Designed by Karen Miller Architects on request by the Ministry of Mines and Energy for a "green" office building for their new regional offices, it is designed to create a comfortable working environment enhanced by the use of renewable energy sources and green material and systems where possible. The building serves as a research center, documenting all aspects of the local environment. All environmental data from the systems installed is collected and digitally stored.

The passive design and orientation in the mild climate of the Namibian coast, as well as the materials and every system component, were considered at the initial stages of the project. "The appearance of the building showcases renewable energies and systems such as solar, wind and fog/dew collection, and gives the client a model which encourages other developers to follow suit. The structure, finishes, passive design and all services have been designed and built with green design in mind" stated the Green Building Council. The building generates 68kW power using the solar panels and wind turbines on its roof and feeds power back into the grid. It makes use of the newest technology wind turbines imported from the USA, and thin-film solar panels. It has a fog net on one boundary which collects fog and dew into a water storage tank system. Fog and dew (and rain if it should rain) collected on all the panels and roofs are also collected into this semi-purified tank system. "This water is used to flush toilets and water the garden. The solar panels must also be washed down from time to time and this water is collected into the same system." Mukete said, adding that the inside and outside of the building therefore showcases the Energy Sector of the Mines and Energy."


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