Rwanda Cabinet approves Green Building Minimum Compliance System

The Government of Rwanda in the cabinet meeting held on 3rd April 2019 approved the Ministerial Order determining Urban planning and Building regulations. The Rwanda Green Building Minimum Compliance System which is an Annex to the Ministerial Order along with the revised Rwanda Building Code. The Ministerial Order and the supporting green building annex were officially gazetted on 16th April 2019 on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) in collaboration with the Building Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Rwanda Green Building Organization (RwGBO), and stakeholders developed the Green Building Minimum Compliance System . The Green Building Minimum Compliance is a point-based system to help building owners and developers choose indicators based on the applicability to the building type, usage and the benefits associated. The green building indicators address the basic green features any building should possess such as appropriate orientation, day lighting, natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, efficient plumbing fixtures, low-impact refrigerants, greenery protection, paints not harmful to the occupants; to name a few. A total of 29 green building indicators are defined in the document that are applicable to the Rwandan context with little or no incremental cost and maximum benefits to the owners, occupants and the environment.  The system complements existing Government of Rwanda commitments such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

According to UN Environment, buildings accounted for 30% of global final energy consumption and 28% of global CO2 emissions in 2015. According to UN-Habitat, in Africa, energy used in buildings is an estimated 56% of the total national electricity consumption. Over 70% of this energy is consumed in cities. In some cases, more than 50% of the national energy is used in the capital city alone. It is also interesting to note that 75% of the building stock in developing countries in Africa and Asia will be built between 2010 and 2060.

With regards to Rwanda, the Third National Communication Report on Climate Change by the Rwanda Ministry of Environment estimates that the CO2 emissions from buildings will increase approx. 574% by 2050 from 2012 baseline levels in the business as usual scenario. In terms of sheer numbers, the report estimates that the CO2emissions are expected to increase from 2.2 million-ton CO2eq. in 2012 up to 6.1 million-ton CO2eq by 2050. Commercial and public buildings are expected to account for 72% of total GHG emission from buildings in 2050. This exponential growth can be attributed to population growth, economic development and rapid urbanization. The report estimates that GHG emission from the building sector could be reduced, with the introduction of mitigation policies and actions, ceiling the GHG emissions up to 3.5 million-ton CO2eq. by 2050. Some of the mitigation policies and actions such as green buildings and green cities are also reflected in Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy, 2011 and National Roadmap for Green Secondary City Development, 2015.

“Green building promotes energy and water efficiency, reduces the need for air-conditioning by taking full advantage of Rwanda’s cool, upland climate combined with appropriate building orientation, maximize day lighting and natural ventilation, using water-saving fixtures in washrooms, provides superior Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) to building occupants, protects environment and promotes biodiversity” says Mr. Harouna Nshimiyimana, Division Manager for Building Regulations, Inspection and Audits (BRIA), AT Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA). He further added that, “the compliance system was developed through a robust stakeholder consultation conducted in 2017-18 by involving all related government institutions and professional bodies to understand the challenges buildings pose to the environment in Rwanda and arrive at the definition of green building that suits Rwanda’s development context and aligns with the vision laid out in the national strategic documents such as Vision 2020, Vision 2050, National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) , and Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy.”

The Green Building Minimum Compliance System would be applicable for new, large-scale commercial buildings, public buildings, assembly buildings, health facilities and educational buildings. New large-scale commercial and public buildings shall achieve 60 points out of the 190 points available to comply with the requirement of Rwanda Green Building Minimum Compliance system.

Ms. Inhee Chung, GGGI Rwanda Country Representative said that “this is a significant step in realizing green urbanization in Rwanda as more buildings will be built in adherence to the Green Building Minimum Compliance System in the next decades than buildings that have been constructed so far” Apart from the technical advisory provided to RHA to develop the compliance system, she added that “GGGI is in the process of developing easy to use excel-based templates/ calculators that are aimed to support RHA to build the capacity of Architects, Engineers and project teams with the green building indicator calculations, point scoring, documentation and help comply with the requirements of the system”. The templates are also aimed to support building inspection officers to verify compliance.

Mr. Yves Sangwa, CEO, RwGBO mentioned that “the implementation of Green Building Minimum Compliance System will take Rwanda to the next level of sustainability under the green cities development, as the compliance System is the first of its kind of mandatory system in Africa, which also aligns with the government’s goal to make Rwanda a Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) hub by constructing green conference facilities, office buildings and hotels; as well as create green jobs”.

Going forward, RHA with the support from stakeholders will conduct public awareness campaigns, training programs for architects, engineers, building inspectors, developers, contractors, students and other stakeholders to ensure that the Green Building Minimum Compliance System is successfully disseminated and implemented.

Globally, green buildings are helping to reduce building operating costs through energy and water savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance occupant comfort and productivity. By designing, constructing, operating and maintaining green buildings, Rwanda can avoid locking in carbon emissions into the future, as many buildings are yet to be constructed through the ongoing rapid economic development and urbanization.