Catalyst Project Update

The Road to Net Zero Green Building

As alarm bells ring ever louder about the fate of an over-heating planet, in Africa, we must look to improve living conditions without adding to the problem. The building sector is a major culprit, accounting globally for 28 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Sadly this trend is on the wrong path as by 2060, total global floor space will most likely be double what it is today and Africa is a major contributor to that. The question is for Empowa – how do we practically and sustainably balance the demand for housing while minimizing resource depletion and carbon impact?

In order to do this, Empowa has to juggle the following:

  • Affordability – green building methods are often more expensive than traditional methods
  • Market acceptance – traditional buildings are aspirational and green alternatives are often seen as inferior  
  • Supply chain – traditional building materials have proven supply chains
  • Knowledge – there is already a significant skills shortage in the construction ecosystem. Adding new things and complexity increases this.

Fortunately, we are not alone in attempting to address this problem. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group,  report  Green Buildings: A Finance and Policy Blueprint for Emerging Markets has identified the market potential for green residential buildings to be an estimated $15.7 trillion by 2030 across emerging market cities. To help meet this need, the IFC, has designed EDGE (“Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies”) to enable providers the tools to support the path to net zero building. 

Understanding the emerging market challenges, EDGE has designed a three-step certification process to drive the construction process to net zero.

  • Edge Certified – 20% or more savings in energy, water and embodied energy in materials.
  • Edge Advanced – EDGE certified with 40% or more on-site energy savings.
  • Zero Carbon – EDGE Advanced with 100% renewables on-site or off-site, or purchased carbon offsets to top off at 100%. All energy must be accounted for, including diesel and LPG.

For the Fund 5 Catalyst Project, Empowa has decided to use this certification process to validate the project in Mozambique. The objective is to gain Edge certification at the highest level possible. To date, Casa Real, the developer in Mozambique has been using traditional building methods. To support Casa Real to take the steps to complete Net Zero building, rather than develop a unique one-off pilot, the Edge approach will enable Casa Real to build Edge Certified and environmentally better homes on an ongoing basis. In other words, rather than just two homes being built in an environmentally friendly fashion, the Catalyst Project has initiated the road to Net Zero for Casa Real for all their construction. 

The impact of this pivot is profound. Catalyst funding fundamentally shifted the conversation around green building in Beira, Mozambique and stimulated the investigation into a practical and certified methodology to make this happen today and lay the groundwork for future ongoing improvement. Our thanks go to the Cardano and Catalyst Community.