The remarkable growth of the Ghana’s real estate industry has been moulded by a great friction of socio-cultural settlement and introduction of modern and technological ways of development. Before 1843, the real estate industry was non-existent and settlers crafted shelter from several and more traditional ways- the main purpose of which was to protect inhabitants against the wild and other adverse weather conditions. The emphasis on developing the housing industry gained prominence in Ghana probably from the late 50s to the early 60s as it attained independence from colonial rule [Bank of Ghana, 2007]. Development was very primitive and was characterized by materials which were available, little care was given to other amenities to the shelter. The acceleration of Ghana’s development has been influenced greatly after colonization. Development has been improved with the introduction of several uses which include residential, industrial, commercial and even transportation purposes. Over the years, the country has seen an evolution of physical structures from the building of huts to the construction of ultra-modern apartments and condominiums, all to provide maximum comfort to their inhabitants.
The current state of Ghana’s real estate industry has been greatly influenced by the historical development evolution and the post-independence transition. Pre-independence witnessed the direct involvement of government in public housing. The Gold Coast government’s first recorded direct involvement in native housing was in 1920s when Disposed Persons Housing Scheme was introduced to provide housing for the natives dispossessed as a results of government development programs [ds.space.knust.edu.gh]. Similarly, Alan Burn’s government also introduced a 4-year Development Plan in 1943 of which housing was a priority. The plan sought to implement the construction of inexpensive but well-built houses with as much local material content as possible on a budget of 0.8 million pounds [Agyemang, 2001]. The post-independence which was first led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also established a 5-year Development Plan from 1951 to 1956. This plan saw the establishment of the Tema Development Corporation and the State Housing Corporation [Bank of Ghana, 2007; Benjamin 2007; Agyemang 2001]. The objective of these two was to create affordable housing. However, it is important that real estate does not become stagnant in its growth and evolution as it contributes to the economic, social and environmental development of the country.
Green development in the real estate is a concept that considers social and environment impacts of development. Development of all kinds have effects on the environment, buildings are not exceptions and so careful attention should be given to the industry and its effects on the environment. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, developments are to conform to environmental conditions and have positive effect on the environment.
SDG 9; build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
SDG 11; make cities and human settlement inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
SDG 13; take urgent actions to combat climate and its impacts.
Considering Ghana’s aim of achieving the sustainable development goals, then it is very important to take make green development the foundation of our industry. Green building is the practice of creating structure and using processes that are environmentally friendly and resource efficient throughout a building’s life cycle- from string of design, construction, operation, maintenance renovation and deconstruction. Green development must have the following three elements;
- Environmental responsiveness: development must be environmentally friendly; the development needs to be able to impact positively to the environment and not pollute. Per the SDG 13, development should be able to help combat climate and not add up to the emanating climate issues.
- Resource efficiency: development must be able to achieve the required quality and energy efficiency using the most conducive technological ideas. Buildings must be strong, safe and be able to conserve energy and not consume energy.
- Community and cultural sensitivity: developments must not lack the existing socio-cultural and historical lineage of the society. Developments is supposed to portray history and reveal culture through landmarks.
Ghana has not been far behind the new transition into green development. There are several developments in the country that seek to achieve the SDGs inculcating green development in the foundation of our industry. The following are some green developments in Ghana and how they are helping to conserve energy;
- Inno-native Home in Accra.
It is constructed by native materials such as, timber, and adobe mud block. The house provides ventilation and so there no need for air-conditioning and so conserve energy, also reducing cost of the building.
- Takoradi Mall.
The mall conserves resources, allowing tenants to focus on improving their profits rather than paying high utility bills. It conserves natural resources with reflective paint and energy-saving lighting, both of which reduce energy consumption, while features like dual flush closets conserve water.
- Atlantic Tower.
The building conserves energy with such passive design features as external shading devices and includes energy-efficient air conditioning and occupancy sensors, while water use is expected to be reduced by more than half by using water-efficient fixtures. Construction materials such as aluminum profile cladding for external walls will also reduce embodied energy in materials.
- Tema Port-Terminal Three.
The development is designed to maximize the use of natural daylight while implementing technical solutions to reduce consumption of energy and water.
These buildings have been certified by the EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) from thinkstep-SGS. The International Finance Corporation which is a part of the World Bank group is providing certification for developments which meet the standard of energy conservation. The inculcating of green development has also given birth to the Ghana Green Building Council which is a non-governmental organization and private-public partnership that is committed to help create sustainable buildings/communities in Ghana using energy savings, water conservation, resource management and cost-efficient techniques.
The understanding of green development suggests formidable solutions to Ghana’s developmental problems such as slum creation, extreme weather conditions caused by excessive deforestation for settlement, and housing deficit caused by unaffordability of development. In reducing the cost of construction, native materials must be encouraged to facilitate development affordability. Resources must be reasonably allocated and appropriate technology used to construct strong, safe, and affordable development to solve the huge housing deficit problems. The country is not far from achieving the best when it comes to developments. The improvement of the Ghana development industry regulations is a good attempt in restructuring the development industry. The recently launched building code in the country states several regulations especially on building materials to help control building energy consumption. Green development cannot be undermined in development country like Ghana and therefore the foundation of Ghana should be strengthened through green development.
Derrick Frimpong Buabeng.
Member, GHL-Real Estate Club, KNUST.