THE RWANDA GREEN BUILDING ORGANIZATION (RWGBO) IS ONE OF THE GLOBAL TEAMS WORKING TO DEPLOY AT LEAST A MILLION COOL ROOFS ACROSS COUNTRIES. THE ORGANIZATION IS STRATEGICALLY HELPING SPREAD COOL ROOFS TO REDUCE AMBIENT TEMPERATURES, FOSTER BUILDINGS ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND IMPROVE WELLBEING IN RWANDA.
Rwanda has a moderate tropical highland climate. Kigali, its capital city, has a typical daily temperature that range between 17°C and 27°C with little variation through the year. Yet, even among this moderate climate, some people and a number of buildings still rely on mechanical cooling to reduce ambient temperatures within their job and living environments. This ironic yet true reality may go down to the way buildings are constructed: in the middle of this tropical realities, hundreds of buildings are being raised every month. But these buildings are being covered by mostly dark, heat-capturing glass sheet, and little consideration is given to natural ventilation and lighting and more is put on external appearances.
In addition, the growing climate change is leading to increased temperatures and prolonged dry seasons. This increases people’s dependency on energy-fed cooling options, and thus results in high-energy demand and high pollution. The demand for energy is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as the construction and building sector grows,
The Rwanda Green Building Organization (RwGBO) is working to improve indoor environment by deploying ‘cool roofs’ in Kigali. Working with a range of partners, including Rwanda’s ministries of Environment, Health and Education, the Rwanda Housing Authority, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority and the City of Kigali, among others, and GreenA Consultants as technical partner, RwGBO set out to address cooling challenges in Kigali and beyond. The implementation of the Cooling Rwanda project, which kicked off in the beginning of January 2020, started with a number of demonstration projects, including the Lycee Notre Dame de Citeaux (school) in Kigali, the Kigali University Teaching Hospital -CHUK , Kigali Bus Services , one of the biggest public transport companies in Kigali and Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority Head Office under construction.
Working with the local paint company Maxoline, RwGBO was able to develop and produce a locally-made solar reflective paint in light blue and white colors – allowing it to cut costs, create green jobs and contribute to local economic growth. This solar-reflective paint reduces indoor temperatures by between 3- 5 degrees Celsius.
Currently, over 4000 square meters of ‘cool roofs’ have been completed and provide better learning environments for the more than 1500 students at LNDC. Another 11 000 m2 are being painted at the Kigali University Teaching Hospital to improve patients living environment and experience and this will be followed by the painting of 2 buses to improve passenger experiences. The ultimate goal is to deploy 1 million square metres of cooling roofs in the country. The main targets will be offices, schools, health facilities and businesses.
This ambitious target is in sight: there is political will to drive the adoption of the ‘cool roofs’, and the country has proved to be a world champion when it comes to environmental sustainability. The country has put in place plans, policies and strategies to support sustainable cooling – such as the Rwanda Green Building Minimum Compliance System, Rwanda National Cooling Strategy which calls for sustainable, inclusive cooling options across the country. The private sector is very supportive, leaders, communities, and businesses are active in the implementation of this program.
It is critical to note that the deployment of solar-reflective paint goes along with awareness creation on its benefits in homes and a variety of government, commercial, and public buildings. Creating awareness of the need for sustainable, low cost cooling options is essential in ensuring that everybody can live, work and travel in a safe, healthy and friendly environment – taking profit of the moderate climate but also limiting emissions and energy demands.
When the COVID 19 pandemic struck, it put a strain on our activities; measures were put in place to limit movements of people, people gathering and total lockdowns. This really slowed our work and proved to be the major challenge we have faced so far.
With the Cooling Rwanda project, the Rwanda Green Building Organization and partners are cooling Rwanda, one roof at a time.
Cover picture: Right: Workers deploying solar reflective paint at Kigali University Teaching hospital (CHUK) in March 2021. Left: An already painted building at CHUK Hospital. Photo/RwGBO