The earth is disintegrating. It is weakening every day. Human beings have nowhere else to go. The weather is teetering on the extremes. The earth is angry. It is turning against us. It is therefore up to every individual to do their part in making sure that the earth remains livable. It does not make sense to wait until you can do something big. Do something small now. Inspire someone else to do something small. All these small things combine to be big significant things. Below are the benefits of environmentally friendly buildings.
Efficient light will use a lot less power than the regular lighting fixtures. That means that you will pay less for electricity costs. Going green also means finding efficient ways to use and store water. This is yet another bill that will be significantly reduced. If your building has air conditioning then you will also benefit from going green. The bill from that will go down as well. Point is, despite the high cost of execution in the beginning. You will be able to gain from that as well as create a more affordable living for your tenants.
Natural resources are divided between renewable and non-renewable. The non-renewable resources are obviously limited. The thing with limited resources is that they get depleted. If resources become depleted, human beings will not survive. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to ensure that said resources are used sparingly. This especially applies to water. Water is non-renewable at least for the most part. You must strive for efficient water usage. Wastage of water is one of the many ways in which most people do not realize they are doing harm to the environment. What is the harm in wasting a little water, right?
The point of green building and living is to reduce the carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases left out in the air by human beings. These gases are the sole reason the earth is breaking down. There is no other planet to go to after this one is lost completely. It is irresponsible to leave the duties of saving the earth to only a few who have a lot of power. Those efforts are useless if the smaller things are not taken care of. It is, therefore, the duty of every human being on this planet to do their part. By installing better lighting fixtures and finding ways to collect rainwater as well as recycle water, you will be doing your part. You might even influence someone to do their part too.
In an air-conditioned house, the air will be clean and fresh but it will not be as great as it would be if it was siphoned from the outside. However, if the building is created in a way that allows proper air circulation, the tenants will enjoy better air quality.
Studies have shown that green buildings enhance health. Their cognitive abilities will be better. Your tenants will sleep better. They will also be more productive in their workplaces. With clean air to enjoy, natural light to see with and all other resources working efficiently, your tenants will be happy and healthy. They will enjoy making homes in your building. Happy and healthy tenants are good as you are bound to be happy too. Not too much hands-on ‘landlording’ in this case.
You may think that some of the actions are very small. However, think about the cumulative positive impact. As an individual, you could not possibly clean up the ocean by yourself. You could use efficient bulbs though. Below are all the small ways you can contribute to this big fight.
Natural lighting is an efficient way for the tenants to light their houses during the day. This is executed by large windows and skylights. If you look around, most of the commercial buildings coming up now are mostly glass. This is one of how companies display their environmentally savvy operations. Obviously, the design is more complicated than just glass walls though. Natural lighting means that the tenants will not need to keep the lights on during the day. If they keep the lights on then they will pay a lot less for electricity. They will also be able to open the windows to let in some fresh air. Studies have shown that natural lighting is very beneficial to the health of residents.
You cannot count on natural lighting to light the building at night. Therefore, you will need proper bulbs to ensure that the lighting in the building at night is environmentally sound. There are many different kinds of bulbs and light fixtures. This is actually one of the most affordable environmentally friendly activities in green building. A few years ago, an energy-efficient bulb would go for at least 650 shillings. However, you can find one now for about a third of that amount. They use a lot less energy and therefore drive costs down.
If the units in the building are not properly ventilated, they will feel uncomfortably warm, the windows will frost up and the tenants will be uncomfortable in their houses. They will be unable to sleep. Their children will be fussy through the night. They might have to sleep with the windows open. Ventilation allows proper air circulation in the house. It provides residents with fresh and clean air to breathe. Some plants in and around the buildings would help enhance the provision of fresh air.
Solar panels help turn the sun’s rays into power. Lately, institutions like Strathmore University have been extensively investing in solar power. This is a renewable source of power and saves money in the long run. These come in handy when the power authority in Nairobi decides to plunge neighborhoods into darkness. They may also be used as the sole power source. A single solar panel costs something between 2,000 and 6,000 shillings a piece depending on wattage. The amount of wattage required will depend on how big the building is and the intended power uses.
As mentioned before, water is a non-renewable resource. There are many ways in which water can be used efficiently. An example is channeling water from the bathroom sink to flow into the cistern for recycling as toilet water. You could also install a special kind of water cistern that dispenses water sparingly. You should also conduct frequent checks on the plumbing to ensure that there are no leaks. As part of making use of natural resources, you should install proper gutters for rainwater collection. Find a way to store this water that way the building is not fully reliant on city council water. With regards to water efficiency, there is quite a bit that can be done to ensure that this non-renewable resource in mindfully utilized.
There are many materials that contractors can use that end up harming the environment. An example is the use of lead-laden paint. The lead when released into the environment not only pollutes the air but may also seep into the water systems. Another example is heat regulating building blocks. You could look into this as well as roofing among other building materials that can be substituted for more environmentally conscious ones.
Garbage recycling is only common in high-income areas. It is yet to catch on in the lower-income neighborhoods. In these places, people tend to just pick a place and make that the dumping site. Garbage recycling is an important step because it keeps all the plastics from being irresponsibly disposed of. If these plastics are not properly handled, they end up in water catchment areas and perhaps eventually into the ocean which works against marine wildlife. Everyone’s duty as a human being on earth should remain mindful of how they dispose of their garbage.
While corporates in Nairobi seem to have embraced green buildings, residential developers are slow on the uptake. There is a myth that green building and environmental consciousness are expensive. However, you must think about the cumulative benefit of providing your tenants with environmentally friendly living quarters.
Another issue is the misconceptions about designs and what green building is really about. To be clear, merely making your house all glass does not make it green. The green comes in the design, construction and even maintenance. There is also a shortage of affordable contractors who can explore green options as well as execute them. The Kenyan construction industry is yet to fully acclimatize to the whole green thing and therefore environmentally friendly building materials are not In abundance in the market. Go green!