Q&A: What Makes a Building Sustainable?

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There has been a lot of talking recently about what a sustainable building is, especially with the current energy situation. A number of suggestions including the use of alternative sources of energy like the sun, local materials, which are readily available and rain gutter to collect water. In this post, we explore sustainable buildings and we provide you with an expert opinion on a typical example of sustainable structures located right here in Accra.

A building is described as being sustainable if it has features that are eco-friendly and make use of materials that are available locally.

Q: What is a sustainable design?

A: A sustainable design seeks to reduce the negative impact of the building, which will improve the health of its occupants and at the same time improve the building’s performance.

Q: What features make a building sustainable?

A: A building can be described as sustainable if it has features such as solar panels, rainwater gutters and rain harvesting features. All of these designs reduce negative impacts on the environment, thus also energy consumption and waste.

Q: What is a typical example of a sustainable building in Ghana?

A: The New IFC World Bank Building located at Ridge in Accra is a typical example of a sustainable building. After a careful assessment, an Accra-based architect has mentioned this building as one of the best examples we have in Ghana. According to him, a sustainable building should address an issue. He described the features as, “It has glass but the heat has been taken care of. It also has a sun-shading device. That device tilts when then the sun is moving, so for instance, if the sun is at a particular location, the glass windows are shut to prevent the rays from penetrating and at the same time, you have the lights and fresh air. There is air conditioning but they do not rely on it. There is a good courtyard to allow for ventilation. And it is a beautiful building. It has good lighting, good ventilation and the materials used are a blend of local and imported goods.

Have you identified any building with sustainable features in Ghana? Share them with us.

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