10 Barriers to the Adoption of Green Building Technologies
Green building technologies have been embraced more in developed countries compared to developing countries. Policymakers and construction industry participants are gradually embracing the adoption of green building technologies.
However, despite the benefits of these technologies to the environment, improved indoor air quality, and reduced energy consumption promised by green buildings, their adoption in developing economies has been low.
The following are some of the barriers and challenges to the adoption of green building technologies in construction industries in developing economies:
- Lack of proper urban planning and poor enforcement of land use policies
- Traditional architecture has not been incorporated into green building designs
- Destruction of forests
- Poor waste management strategies
- Inefficient methods of generating and using energy
- Cultural barriers
- Financial challenges on the part of developers and regulators
- Lack of effort by local construction industry professional bodies
- Limited education and research on green building concepts
- Lack of empowerment of stakeholders
- Lack of incentives from the Government
- Lack of Proper Urban Planning and Poor Enforcement of Land Use Policies
Most urban dwellings are compactly constructed with little or no space left. This prevents air movement after construction.
Given that the construction process has a significant impact on many sustainability fronts, site planning is one of the most notable elements of sustainable building. Large green spaces are frequently destroyed rather than absorbed into the developed environment; hence, they are reduced considerably.
When structures are created, developers intend to fill the entire land, consequently ruining the nearby natural habitat and limiting airflow after the development is finished. Numerous metropolitan areas have caused irreversible environmental damage as a result of this poor site planning.
2. Traditional Architecture has not been Incorporated into Green Building Designs
Buildings of traditional architecture were created while respecting the surrounding natural environment. Additionally, the materials were obtained locally. However, modern buildings do not follow this tradition since imported materials, as well as designs, are currently used.
Architects have sometimes just copied designs that appear appealing to the eyes—from the West and other parts of the world—without considering the local climatic conditions, availability of resources, or lack thereof.
The loss of conventional building techniques and the growth of environmentally unfriendly structures are the consequences of this decision.
3. Destruction of Forests
In continental Africa, the supply of resources for the construction sector is directly related to the loss of forests. Timber that is used in the construction of buildings is acquired from indigenous forests, and in most instances, it is never replaced. Forest use has to be made sustainable by ensuring that harvest trees are replanted. Thus, appropriate measures need to be taken into consideration.
Since that is not happening, the destruction of the forests has contributed fully to inhibiting efforts to adopt green building and sustainable construction.
4. Poor Waste Management Strategies
In the building sector, waste regulation is a crucial concern. In most instances, the waste produced is disposed of in landfills or pits. However, some of the worst environmental effects come from these waste management techniques. As a result, procedures should be undertaken to make sure that waste management is sustainable in the building process.
5. Inefficient Methods of Generating and Using Energy
Energy efficiency in the construction and production of buildings is a very important concept that has been neglected.
This efficiency is not only attributed to the direct usage of energy but also to the usage of fuel in the production process, the obtaining of raw materials, and eventually the transportation of the same to various construction sites. Increasing energy efficiency and lowering energy consumption, along with the use of renewable energy sources, are two approaches to lessening the environmental impact of a structure.
6. Cultural Barriers
Green building principles cannot be implemented because of cultural limitations. African nations were more likely to exhibit a high distaste for western technologies during the colonial process. As a result, green energy technology was less widely used.
The public’s trust in internal knowledge or traditional building techniques could be severely eroded by an over-reliance on foreign information and technology. There is a chance that building occupants, users, and other interested parties won’t be confident in its outcomes and benefits.
This uncertainty of outcomes and benefits is a common barrier to the successful implementation of these sustainable practices. As a result, the trend towards green buildings has considerably slowed.
7. Challenges in Green Building Project Financing
The initial investment in green buildings is higher. This makes most developers shy away from such developments, as they want to minimize the initial cost of construction. However, the payback period is generally shorter due to savings.
Energy consumption is reduced by green buildings. However, additional savings from the interior environment, health advantages, and productivity must be added to these savings.
8. Lack of Initiative by the Local Construction Professional Bodies
Locally, there have been a lot of discussions on the area of green buildings and the associated technologies. However, no policies and guidelines have been created to guide the adoption and implementation of these technologies in the construction industry.
This lack of well-documented, laid-down policies, procedures, and guidelines leaves a big gap in how the matter should be approached. It is one of the contributors to the low uptake of green building practices.
9. Limited Education and Research on Green Building Technologies
The subject is minimally taught and talked about in universities and even in the construction industry itself. Although mentioned as a trend, when it comes to the actual implementation of the same, industry players do not advise clients on adopting the concepts because they fear that the clients might abandon the project due to the initial costs that come with adopting green buildings.
Little research has also been done, and especially the cost aspect of it is not clear yet. Hence, industry players are very adamant about enforcing the same on clients because there are questions that they might not be able to answer when it comes to the overall cost implications of these projects.
10. Lack of Empowerment of Stakeholders
The stakeholders have not been properly empowered, and there are not any proper policies to enforce the adoption of green building and sustainable design and construction concepts.
11. Absence of Incentives from The Government
The government has not been vocal about sustainability. Although the modern construction industry has been promoting the climatic change agenda and indirectly adopting green building technologies, it has not put measures in place to either promote or even regulate the same.
For instance, it would have been prudent if the governments could give tax incentives and lower the statutory charges for construction projects that are adopting the concepts of green building and sustainability.
The failure on the part of the government has led to a lower rate of adoption or even a complete lack thereof.
Lack of understanding of the possible benefits, especially in the long run, and a high degree of uncertainty regarding the actual benefits that may be derived from adopting green building practices are the root causes of the lack of interest or the ‘sluggish’ adoption of green building practices.
I’m a Quantity Surveying graduate from the University of Nairobi with more than five years of office and construction site experience. I have been in charge of several construction projects that have informed my expertise in matters of construction contracts, cost control, project management, and sustainable design research. Also, I teach construction technology on my YouTube Channel.