What are building committees?
In 2013, the Building Control Act of Uganda established a building committee in each district and urban authority. The Act also established the National Building Review Board (NBRB) to oversee the activities of the Building Committees. The building committee is responsible for issuing building permits after reviewing the building proposals submitted to the council.
As of November 2020, only 30 building committees were earmarked within 146 districts.
To increase compliance with the building laws, policies, and regulations, as well capacity building of the stakeholders involved like the newly established committees to adhere to these standards, they must be trained.
The absence of compliance with these laws and regulations and the lack of building committees within the districts, municipalities and some of the new city councils, leads to the mushrooming of unauthorized structures in incompatible areas and protected zones. It is reported by NBRB that less than 10 percent of all new structures are officially approved at this moment!
These failures hinder well-planned and sustainable growth, compliant with greening interventions.
It is important to note that the role of the building (regulations) committees is different from the physical development (or development control) committee of the council. The former is concerned with structural integrity for both buildings (superstructure) and infrastructure. The latter is concerned with land-use conformity with the Physical Development Plan (PDP) and subsequent three-dimensional design.
The opportunity for green buildings within the cities
There is an opportunity to promote green buildings concepts through these building committees. A green building is one whose design, construction, and operation reduces or eliminates negative environmental and psychological impacts. A green building standard can reduce carbon emissions by up to 48% compared to a conventional building. Dark and dingy interiors of buildings, with poor ventilation, can impact on how people feel – the psychological impact.
There is a lack of awareness on this topic, both within the general population and the leadership.
So far, its principles of green buildings are in a few commercial buildings in the GMKA.
The building committees that grant building permits are a great start to stimulate the roll-out of greener building habits and practices.
The building committee’s capacity building activities
NBRB, physical planning committees, building committees, and building experts have worked with GGGI to deliver training on green buildings and general building laws, policies and regulations.
The training was from 4th to 20th April, in Mukono and Entebbe municipalities and Arua and Gulu cities as part of the European Union funded ‘Greening Uganda’s Urbanization and Industrialization’ project.
A total of 104 members were trained. These were 19 from Arua, 32 from Gulu, 25 from Mukono, and 28 from Entebbe. More training in Jinja and Mbarara will be held in June.
During this training, the focus was on enhancing the capacity of the participants on national building laws, policies, and regulations in Uganda; familiarizing the committees with the physical development plans (PDPs); the relationship of PDPs with building plans, and their significance in the built environment.
The participants gained the capacity to apply and enforce building control measures, promote green growth /expansion, and ensure more inclusive and low-carbon development of their urban spaces.
Innovative solutions and case studies presented in the “Circular Built Environment Highlights from Africa” report are among other training materials used to enhance the understanding of green buildings by the building committee.
An increased awareness of green buildings towards implementation, in the context our efforts to green urbanization and industrialization, is going to enrich Uganda’s march to a more prosperous and environmentally friendly future. This we owe to our children and our children’s children!