The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with Orthner Orthner & Associates, is sponsoring three architectural students from Ghana to attend the annual conference of the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) in Cape Town.
The project has been funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) with technical support provided by SGS and thinkstep.
The students are the winners of a sustainable design competition using IFC’s EDGE green building software.
Participants in the competition, launched on July 18 this year, were selected from the Architecture Department of the Central University in Accra.
The competition challenged students to design a cutting-edge, single-family home intended for a young family located around the outskirts of Accra using only locally available materials. A panel of experts decided on the top three designs.
The students who emerged winners of IFC’s Student Architectural Design Competition were awarded an all-expense paid trip to Cape Town to attend GBCSA’s 12th Green Building Convention, to be held October 2-4. They will also receive professional training on the EDGE software and engage with accredited EDGE Experts, with the intention of bringing home best practices upon their return.
David Ekow Ampiaw, aged 20, emerged the topmost winner with Olufemi Abodunrin and Cheryl Omani-Baah placing second and third respectively.
The winners were full of praise to organizers for the competition and emphasized they were eagerly awaiting the trip and their chance to contribute to the greater knowledge of EDGE and green building design in Ghana.
Ninnette Quao Fio, a lecturer at the Architecture Department of the Central University, explained to News Ghana in an exclusive interview why the competition has come at an opportune time.
She said, “The world is now going green so it is relevant that we inculcate in the education of our students how to design in a sustainable way, making use of affordable, high-quality local materials while taking care of the environment.”
The Central University Architecture Lecturer commended IFC for introducing the competition and expressed optimism it will continue in the coming years. “I hope going forward this will last because it’s an innovative idea that IFC has introduced. It’s relevant to the construction industry and students are also getting the idea of how to design buildings in a sustainable manner.”
By 2050, the built environment is expected to double due to high population growth and urbanization trends. This has serious implications for global warming, as buildings already generate 19 percent of energy-related GHG emissions and consume 40 percent of electricity worldwide.
Switzerland, through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, considers the need for more sustainable buildings so important that it provided seed capital for IFC’s EDGE.
EDGE is a green building certification system available in more than 150 countries with an online, free-to-use application that is tailored to emerging economies. The EDGE platform, available at www.edgebuildings.com, allows those involved with designing and developing projects to proceed to being certified when the requirements of 20 percent savings across energy, water and embodied energy in materials are met.
SECO’s support for EDGE has resulted in an upward trajectory of certified buildings in Ghana and the region, where the construction sector is booming. “Green building standards, such as the EDGE standard, can play an important role in greening the economy and in ensuring greater resource efficiency and environmental sustainability of new buildings,” said Matthias Feldmann, Deputy Head of Mission /Head of Cooperation for SECO.
He further emphasized, “With EDGE we found a way to push design practices to higher levels and foster innovation in the financial sector to accelerate green buildings.”
In Ghana, mortgage rates are more than 30 percent and annual inflation is 9 percent, so a certified green home makes a measurable difference in the lives of homebuyers struggling to make ends meet. Lower utility bills translate to a better quality of life, as families can reinvest savings into other areas such as education.
It is envisaged that IFC and SECO will have a generational impact by encouraging greener building practices with EDGE.