Sustainable Success: How Green Buildings are Reshaping Zimbabwe's Real Estate Landscape
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Sustainable Success: How Green Buildings are Reshaping Zimbabwe's Real Estate Landscape

A major new $6 million partnership between Zimbabwe's Green Buildings Council (GBCZ) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is laying the groundwork to make the country's buildings and construction much more sustainable and efficient. The four-year collaboration, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), has the potential to drive positive change for many different groups involved in real estate in both cities and surrounding areas.

One core focus will be developing a green building certification system designed specifically for Zimbabwe's climate. This will provide clear standards for making new buildings more energy and water-efficient right from the design stage. Buildings certified as "green" typically use 25-30% less energy and 30-50% less water compared to conventional buildings. This translates to significantly lower utility bills over the long run.

Across the board, the integration of eco-friendly design elements like natural lighting, renewable power, water recycling and sustainable materials delivers a wide range of benefits:

For developers and builders

  • Lower construction and operating costs  
  • Increased asset values and returns on investment
  • Ability to market premium "green-certified" properties

For commercial property owners and tenants 

  • Reduced utility expenses
  • Higher occupant productivity and satisfaction  
  • More appealing, valuable facilities

For homeowners and residential developers

  • Big savings on electricity, water and other utility bills
  • Expected government incentives for green construction
  • Healthier, more comfortable living environments

For urban and peri-urban communities

  • New integrated waste recovery facilities
  • Clean energy centres provide affordable power
  • Improved sanitation from better waste management

The partnership will also fund vital infrastructure like biogas facilities in areas like Mbare. According to UN-Habitat's Vincent Kitio, this will serve as a model for other cities to learn from. Updating national building codes to require energy and resource efficiency measures is another major goal. GBCZ’s chairman Mr Mike Juru said this regulatory overhaul is crucial for making greener standards the new norm.

The initiative aligns with Zimbabwe's climate goals around emissions reduction, conservation and renewable energy. It promises economic benefits from investments into domestic manufacturing of sustainable building materials and new job opportunities. Mr Juru noted that they are shifting away from wasting unwanted materials and instead finding ways to create power and value from waste streams.  

The academic sector also stands to benefit through research, curriculum updates and skills training programmes aligned with green building principles. Developing local expertise will be key to successfully implementing the projects long-term.  Overall, the GBCZ-UN-Habitat partnership has the potential to transform Zimbabwe's built environment in an eco-friendlier direction that reduces environmental impacts while delivering a host of financial and social benefits to a diverse set of stakeholders.

With SIDA's funding and UN-Habitat's technical guidance, the collaboration aims to accelerate green building initiatives nationwide. The beneficiaries are wide-ranging - from developers and policymakers to communities and the environment itself.