Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Global Agencies Launch Project to Promote Energy Efficient Buildings in East Africa

Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law: Global Agencies Launch Project to Promote Energy Efficient Buildings in East Africa

Columbia Law School Center For Climate Change Law 

Cullen Howe  By J. Cullen Howe, Environmental Law Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

In May 2011, the Global Environment Facility, in collaboration with two United Nation agencies (the U.N. Environment Program and the U.N. Human Settlements Program), announced a project to promote building energy efficiency in five East African countries in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  According to the announcement, the project will be implemented in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda at a cost of $2.85 million over the next four years and will attempt to reduce energy consumption of new buildings by 40-50 percent and in existing buildings by 20-30 percent.

Map of Africa

Most buildings in East Africa are very similar to buildings designed in Western countries with colder, more temperate climates and do not take into account climatic differences.  Inefficient design and construction using energy intensive materials, combined with poor understanding of thermal comfort, passive building principles and energy conscious behavior, have led to buildings which waste a lot of energy.

In East Africa, there are currently no legally binding standards concerning the construction of energy efficiency buildings.  The project will aim to incorporate energy efficiency practices in housing policies, building codes, and municipal bylaws.  It will also categorize buildings in the region according to their climatic zones, such as whether they are located in hot, humid, or dry climates, and whether they are located in desert, highlands, savanna, or semi-arid areas.  GHG reductions from the project are expected to be 7.5 million tons over 20 years, while electricity savings are estimated to be 868,960 megawatt-hours (MWh) by 2014 and 4.3 million MWh by 2030.

Reprinted with permission from Green Building Law Update Service.

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J. Cullen Howe is an environmental law specialist at Arnold & Porter LLP. Much of Cullen's work focuses on climate change, where he attempts to educate lawyers and the public at large on the enormous cooperation necessary to adequately address this problem. In addition to his work on climate change, Cullen is the managing editor of Environmental Law in New York, edits the Environmental Law Practice Guide, Brownfields Law and Practice, the Environmental Impact Review in New York, and has drafted chapters in the Environmental Law Practice Guide on climate change and green building. Mr. Howe is a graduate of Vermont Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vermont Law Review, and a graduate of DePauw University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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