Use local building materials--experts (20 October 2014) Page 86

Some players in the real estate sector in Ghana have made a strong case for the use of local building materials in the building and construction industry.

They asserted that the persistent use of cheaper local resources would help add value to the country’s natural resources and create jobs for the unemployed.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion in Accra on sustainable real estate in Ghana, a design/build consultant, Mr Brandon Rogers, and an architect, Mrs Akosua Obeng, observed that the prevailing system was not environmentally sustainable.

The forum, organised by Lamudi Ghana, an online real estate marketplace, brought together real estate developers, architects, agents and property brokers to deliberate on sustainable alternatives for the country’s real estate industry.

 Mr Rogers, whose company uses mainly local materials for it projects, said Ghanaians could not continue using foreign materials when available local materials suited their environment.

“There is a stigma attached to people who have decided to blend the use of local resources with the imported resources for building. The perception is that when you use local materials, it means you are poor, which should not be so.”
He encouraged the use of local resources because the buildings built with the local resources could stand the test of time and its longevity had been proven by research he had conducted.

According to experts, the housing sub-sector is a major contributor to environmental pollution. With the high levels of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the sector’s contribution to climate change continues to be on the increase.

Mr Rogers said beside being thermally friendly, the use of laterite blocks (bricks) and a technology he designed, known as the ‘Earth bag,’ were good alternatives, especially for the rural areas, with mud houses with short lifespan.

Earth bag is a process where sand is heaped into bags and used in building walls before being plastered with concrete.

The construction industry is said to constitute 75 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from the factory to construction site globally.

In that regard, Mrs Obeng with Orthner Orthner and Associates, said the only way to reduce greenhouse gases was by using local resources for construction.

Policy on local material use for public infrastructure 

Ghana’s policy direction is to have about 60 per cent of local materials in the construction of every public infrastructure by 2015.

While commending the policy, Mrs Obeng said the country still had a long way to go since most of the materials in the real estate sector were not manufactured in Ghana.

She observed that the difficulty most real estate developers faced was the unavailability of certification for some local building materials; estate developers had to fall on imported ones.

She, therefore, called on the provision of incentives to encourage investment in the manufacturing sector in the country.

She also added that using the local materials, such as laterite blocks came with its own benefits which included the improved comfort level of citizens, made buildings cooler considering the climate region Ghana found itself and also inculcated the local and indigenous style of building in local architecture.

Lands Commission bureaucracy 

Ghana’s housing deficit stands around 1.7 million but complex land acquisition processes have not helped.

A land acquisition consultant, Mr Kwame Ankapong, observed that although the government had attempted to use Land Administration Project to solve the challenges that came with land acquisition, it was still fraught with challenges.

He, therefore, urged the government to partner the private sector to find lasting solutions to the problems.


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