African developers are increasingly turning to eco-friendly building practices, which can be seen in hotels, safari lodges, and business parks around the continent. Even though the investment can cost more up front than traditional construction costs, the effort pays off in the end in terms of environmental impact, reduced operating costs, and of course, good publicity. So whether you’re headed to Africa on business or on holiday, keep your eyes open for these innovative buildings.
1. Zarafa Lodge – Botswana
This luxury Botswana safari lodge uses solar electricity, recycles waste into ‘bio gas’ that is used for cooking, and has tents made of canvas and recycled hardwoods. The tents sit on raised platforms made from 100-year old teak railway sleepers.
2. Karoo Wilderness Centre – Karoo, South Africa
Recognizable by its bowl-shaped roof, this building is not only designed to be eco-friendly but forces visitors to learn a thing or two about being environmentally conscious. Every visitor takes a tour throughout the building to learn what the builders did to be greener. Known mainly for collecting rainwater on its roof, this building also produces all of its own energy, and processes all of its own waste.
3. Hotel Verde – Cape Town, South Africa
This hotel is the first in Africa to provide carbon-neutral accommodation with a goal of zero carbon footprint. When hotel owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio decided to build a green hotel, they sought every way possible to make this happen. Rainwater is collected and the pool functions as an eco-system, providing nutrients to living plants and organism. The hotel has an interior living wall display of plants that receive natural sunlight from skylights, allowing visitors to enjoy greenery indoors. And this is just a fraction of the many eco-friendly features of this hotel.
4. Nedbank Building – Johannesburg, South Africa
This was the first building in South Africa to receive a 4-Green Star rating. Made almost entirely from recycled materials, the building has a strict policy on recycling waste. Every light bulb is energy efficient and many offices in the bank are purposely designed with lots of windows to let in natural light.
5. Eastgate Centre – Harare, Zimbabwe
This shopping center is wrapped in hundreds of glass panels, which control the temperature and provide natural light. This building was designed to be ventilated by natural means including passive cooling and recycled air systems.
6. Mombo Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana
A building at this game reserve is made of recycled woods and uses 100% solar energy. The food is all locally sourced, and because that wasn’t eco-friendly enough for its owners, they are also involved with the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project which protects endangered rhinos in the area.
7. Sandbag Houses – South Africa
Sandbags by Eco-Beam are an environmentally friendly way to use natural resources without cutting down trees. They’re also an affordable way to build houses, costing approximately 30-to-40 percent less than the average house. Eco-Beam Sandbag houses are reportedly good at stabilizing temperatures. They allow air to pas through the seams of the bags. Because sandbags are heavy, the houses are pretty stable. You can find sandbag buildings scattered throughout South Africa including the Pavilion on Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg.
8. Vodafone Site Solutions Innovation Centre – Midrand, South Africa
Voted the greenest building in Africa in 2011, the entire building is completely run on solar energy and has solar absorption chillers to control room temperature. Rainwater is harvested from the roof to supply water for toilets and to irrigate the garden. The building is surrounded by glass to provide natural light, allowing visitors to feel more comfortable indoors.
9. Makoko Floating School – Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos is home to a large community of people who live in slums on the water with few resources. Makoko Floating School — a school built on a lagoon — opened in 2013, allowing many children living in stilt homes to access proper education. The school is made from recycled materials. It collects natural rainwater, and uses solar-powered roof panels for energy.
10. Inno-native Houses – Ghana
“Inno-native” homes are a new concept in affordable, eco-friendly living for Ghanaians. The brainchild of architect Joe Osae-Addo, every house has solar-power energy to to run appliances and lights. The goal is to kill two birds with one stone, by helping the environment and ending poverty, one house at a time.