By Arch. Francis Gichuhi


South East Commercial Park, formerly known as Muthurwa along Landhies Roadin Nairobi is the newest extension to Nairobi Central Business District.

The world is becoming sensitive to the environment after learning from previous mistakes where man has continued to develop cities without considering the environment.

Solar Energy.

Hydro Electricity is the main sorce of Energy for Buildings in Nairobi. This is usually not enough hence frequent blackouts and power rationing.
Use of Solar for electricity production should be embraced within the South East Commercial Park.

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The street lights can be designed to power from solar.
Harambee Avenue in Nairobi has such solar powered street lights.
Use of BIPV Building Intergrated Photo Voltaic facades will also enhance use of solar power for the buldings.
These are solar cells intergrated within the bulding facades[walls and roofs].
BIPV Curtain walling such as supplied by Sharp Solar are quite common.

Below picture-Solar fabrik, Freiburg facade with transparent modules and shadowing modules
(source/copyright Solar fabrik GmbH)

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The BIPV curtain walling are used in place of windows and walls hence savings realised on the cost of walling and windows.
BIPV roofs are also used in place of roofing material hence cost savings in the total construction cost.

BIPV curtain walls also enhance the appearance of a building since they give it a more ‘modern’ glass exterior finish.
The I&M building along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi has a shiny glass material exterior finish. This gives it the ‘modern’ look. With BIPV walling, the same aesthetics will be achieved at the same time producing energy to power the building.
Below is a picture of the Solar Arc Building in Japan owned by SANYO– an impressive 630 kW solar-collecting building that boasts over 5,000 solar panels and kicks off over 500,000 kWh of energy per year.
Read more: SOLAR ARK: World’s Most Stunning Solar Building | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

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Carbon Footprint Reduction

Use of vertical gardens on balconies and roof tops will go a long way in reducing the ammount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere and act as ‘Lungs’ to purify the poluted Nairobi air.
Building owners within the South East Comercial Park should ensure that their Architects design buildings that have a certain percentage of surface[say 10%] to be covered by live plant material.

Below are pictures of “ACROS Fukuoka” , a building in Fukuoka city of Japan.

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Planters can be incorporated on the building balconies and roof tops. Creepers can be planted along the building facades.
This greatly improves on the aeshtetic appeal of the buildings and at the same time keeps the building internal spaces cool. In other developed countries, City Councils have come up with bye-laws to ensure that live plant materials are included in the buildings. In Nairobi, we do not have such bye-laws yet but this should not stop developers puting up new buildings in Nairobi from ensuring that their buildings become ‘green’ literally.

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A good example of a roof garden is the Chicago city hall building-roof garden above, owned by the City of Chicago, Dept of Environment,U.S.A.

Recycling of Water.

The developers coming up with new buildings should ensure that during the initial design, plumbing and drainage works for gray water [water from the kitchen sink and showers] is separated from Foul water [water from the toilets]. This ensures that water from the kitchen and shower is drained to a separate system where it can be stored and used to water the vegetaition in and around the buildings.
Only the foul water from the toilets should be drained to the City Council sewer system.
Once the gray water is harvested, it ensures that the gardens on the roofs , balconies and lawns will be watered at a very low cost and remain green all year out. This in turn increases the value of the property .

Great Opportunity

The South East Commercial Park offers a great opportunity to make Nairobi ‘green’. Its very rare for such an opportunity to bring itself up in Cities whereby major building design decisions such as use of BIPV walling, solar street lighting and separate plumbing for gray water are included in the buildings.
Most Cities around the world are fully developed using older architectural design and construction methodology so its very expensive for them to embrace such new architectural designs and construction methodologies. For example, to intergret BIPV Solar walling or plumbing to an existing building, you will need to pull down walls, drill holes through concrete slabs ,re-do the electrical wiring to conform to solar electruictity, re-design the entire plumbing system e.t.c.
This is very cumbersome and not very cost –effective .
Therefore, such ideas are best incorporated into the buildings during initial architectural design such as the current opportunity at South East Commercial Park.
During the initial architectural design, Architects will also be able to add other efficient designs wthin the building such as use of Natural light and ventilation within all rooms hence saving on energy required for Air Conditioning and lighting.


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Above picture:A climbing plant on Zone Control’s office building at Håga in Haninge.

The time to bring about these changes is now. Developers within South East Commercial Park should seize this golden opportunity to give Nairobi City a new ‘green’ outlook. This can be done by carefull selection of their Architect who will advice them on ensuring the above issues are addressed fully within their buildings.

Francis Gichuhi Kamau B.Arch. U.o.N M.A.A.K[A] Registered Architect

Francis Gichuhi (693 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email Telephone +254721410684

One Comment

  1. sammy Reply

    I’m doing research on ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Green Roofing in Nairobi. I need expert advice on policies encouraging this and the technical aspects required for establishment. If you can assist I will appreciate.

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