Sustainability is important because it is essential for our planet’s health and the health of all its inhabitants. It is a concept that includes preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring a healthy environment for future generations.
Sustainability has become an increasingly important trend in recent years, as a growing number of businesses and individuals from different sectors recognise the need to reduce their environmental impact such as:
Architecture and design
Architects, designers and builders use sustainable materials, energy-efficient designs, and green building standards to ensure their projects are as environmentally friendly as possible. This has taken shape across the globe and Kenya is slowly adapting. In conjunction with public, private, academic and civic sectors, Green Africa Foundation recently created the Green Africa Building Standards, Certification and Rating Systems aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on occupants and the natural environment. The Foundation also has a rating system that awards the best green practices.
The Strathmore Business School was awarded the Best Green Building Development in Africa by the African Real Estate and Housing Finance (AREHF) Academy Awards. The building is completely fitted with indoor air quality designed to meet LEED standards with optimum relative air changes controlled using evaporative cooling air units. Rainwater is utilised as it is collected and channelled to an underground tank. LED lighting is connected directly to photovoltaic solar louvers.
In the engineering field, sustainability is implemented through green processes and technologies. Engineers play a key role in designing machines and products to minimise resource use and optimise efficiency. Aspiring youth in Kenya have made great progress in achieving this. One of the examples is Norah Magero, a mechanical engineer and renewable energy expert. Norah is the CEO of Drop Access which is a women and youth-led social enterprise that develops practical and affordable energy solutions. One of her innovations includes VacciBox which is a portable solar-powered refrigerator that is easily mounted on a bicycle, motorbike, or even carried by hand so that medical supplies, as well as food, can be safely stored and transported to communities that have been affected by climate hazards.
Manufacturing industries have also made huge investments in such innovations to cut down on their emissions. An example is EABL. The company has invested in biomass boilers. These biomass boilers replace heavy fuels by using sustainable fuel alternatives such as wood chips, bamboo, and rice husks among other raw materials to create steam power for the breweries, reducing carbon emissions by 42,000 tonnes a year.
In the business field, sustainability is integrated into corporate strategies. Companies have put efforts to design products and services with an eye on environmental and social responsibility. Kenya is a witness to these interesting ideas.
Gjenge Makers, located in Nairobi, is a social enterprise whose aim is to address the prevailing issues of plastic waste pollution by recycling and upcycling plastic waste into strong and beautiful construction products e.g. paving bricks, paving tiles, hatch and manhole covers.
We also have the Taka Taka solutions which collects and manages waste by recycling 95% of it. The company has a vertically integrated model of waste collection, sorting, recycling, composting and incineration. Taka Taka solutions offers its customers a one-stop-shop that meets the most demanding sustainability standards. Their recycling rate of 95% represents one of the highest recycling rates globally.
These are just a few initiatives taking part in creating a sustainable future. You and I also play a key role in achieving this by supporting these initiatives and working together to implement and promote sustainable practices, including reducing our reliance on non-renewable energy sources, promoting greater efficiency in the use of resources, and investing in renewable energy sources.
We must also support policies and regulations that promote sustainability and incentivize the use of sustainable practices. We must also take personal responsibility for our actions and strive to make conscious decisions that will benefit the planet and its inhabitants. By taking these measures, we can ensure that our planet remains habitable and prosperous for future generations.