As scientists advocate more and more for going green, the Catholic University is already ahead of the curve
The Nairobi Skyline is constantly shifting; old iconic buildings have been replaced by more modern steel and glass indulging architecture. A sign of economic growth but unfortunately an emitter of greenhouse gases which a key cause of global warming. So, how does one find a balance between growth and environmental consideration? The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (C.U.E.A) Karen has found that balance through its Learning Resource Centre built as a facility for the 21st Century.
The Going for Green team spoke to Joseph Kavulya, a Professor and Librarian at the Catholic University in Karen.
Planning and building
During the planning process, the architects and project leaders factored in the use of natural light into the initial design of the building.
“This is a facility that takes into account environmental issues in order to save on energy. The planning process took almost two years.”
The building orientation was carefully considered; it is long on the east-west axis ensuring all the windows face north and south. The windows are also sun-shaded which means that no direct sunlight hits the glass. This stops the build-up of greenhouse gases.
“The building uses natural light, by 10 am, all the lights are usually off until about 6 pm because of all the open spaces and the natural light coming through the glass.”
However, this part of the planning encountered many challenges. Security was a major concern that slowed down the project.
Natural Cooling system and how it works
Security notwithstanding, the design also factored in the exclusion of air-conditioning, favouring a natural cooling system.
Air comes in under the auditorium and passes over the surface of the rocks. The rocks then cool this air; at the same time, thermal chimneys on the roof are heated by the sun causing expansion and forcing the warm air out through vents. This creates a suction effect that pulls the cool air that has passed through the rocks into the sitting area and out when heated.
Green architecture is the future
Plenty of work went into designing and building the CUEA learning resource centre and it paid off as it’s fast becoming a spectacle for green technology enthusiasts in the country and worldwide.
“I hope this concept of environmental-friendly buildings catches up because it can save the country and the continent. It can contribute to creating a wonderful habitat that really saves the environment.”