Daily Graphic Editorials
Real estate, climate change
It is the emission of greenhouse gases, such as, carbon dioxide, methane, etc., into the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.
To mitigate climate change, therefore, is to control activities, such as energy consumption, that emit these gases.
Like many other countries, including the US, UK and Canada, across the world, Ghana is experiencing the effects of climate change.
We are experiencing unprecedented flooding, drought and heatwaves, all being climate-related problems.
Arguably, these issues have had a toll on our economy, with sectors like agriculture and tourism suffering the most.
In an attempt to curb climate change, the country has planted millions of trees, which, undoubtedly, is one of the solutions to curbing the menace.
However, achieving net zero in the real estate sector would be a game changer in the world’s fight against climate change.
Net zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
In the real estate sector, achieving net zero means buildings are designed, constructed, and operated in a way that minimises their carbon footprint (total amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, emitted).
The 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction by International Energy Agency shows that the world’s real estate sector accounts for about 39 per cent of the total global emissions and consumes nearly 40 per cent of the world’s energy.
Net zero in real estate presents an opportunity for Ghana to address climate change while also promoting sustainable economic growth.
The rapid growth of our construction industry presents an opportunity to build energy-efficient and sustainable buildings that contribute to net zero emissions.
One key step towards achieving net zero in real estate is to incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power into building designs.
In Ghana, solar energy has immense potential, given the country's abundant sunshine.
The government could promote the use of solar energy by providing incentives such as tax breaks for businesses that invest in solar panels or subsidise and make it mandatory for buildings to incorporate solar power in their design.
Building design is identified as another critical aspect that can help achieve net zero in real estate.
This means designing buildings to be energy-efficient and sustainable.
For instance, buildings can be designed to maximise natural light and ventilation, reducing the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning, which are significant sources of energy consumption.
Additionally, materials used in building construction can be chosen with sustainability in mind.
Building materials such as concrete and steel have high carbon footprints, and alternatives such as bamboo and wood could be considered in some instances.
Green roofs and walls can also be incorporated into building designs to help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Such features would not only contribute to reducing the building's carbon footprint but also provide other benefits such as improving air quality, reducing urban heat islands and enhancing biodiversity.
In sum, Ghana can tackle climate change by promoting net zero in real estate.
Achieving net zero in the real estate sector will not only contribute to reducing the country's carbon footprint but also present an opportunity for sustainable economic growth.
By incorporating renewable energy sources, sustainable building materials, and building designs that maximise energy efficiency, Ghana can lead the way in the fight against climate change while also promoting sustainable development.
The writer is a Student of MSc.
University of Aberdeen, UK.