Republic Of Zambia

United Nations Development Programme Zambia

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Green building guidelines


A catalyst for sustainable construction

Zambia has experienced market economic development averaging 7% per annum over the past ten years. The construction industry has continued to positively contribute to the national GDP as well as creation of jobs. The activities in the construction sector have been governed through a legislative and regulatory framework so as to ensure that the industry doesn’t operate in a vacuum. However, this framework has not been able to balance the intricate relation between development and the environment as it does not have specific guidelines addressing requirements of green construction.

Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impact on the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, buildings use energy, water, and raw materials, generate waste, and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. These facts have prompted the creation of green building standards, certifications, and rating systems aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the natural environment.

The Zambia Green Jobs Programme (ZGJP) aims at supporting the creation of green jobs among micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Zambian building construction industry, while at the same time generating systemic change and contributing to the broader discussion on inclusive green growth and job creation in Zambia. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides technical assistance to key actors in government, statutory bodies and civil society to shape an enabling regulatory framework which supports a transition towards green and sustainable building and construction practices. Interventions at the policy level for the Green Jobs Programme in the construction and building sector in Zambia will build on UNEP’s evidence-based policy measures arising from the inception phase and international best practice research in green buildings.  Part of the mandate of the ZGJP is to support the development of green building guidelines. Green building guidelines are the basis for creating high performance and sustainable buildings in general and housing in particular. The guidelines aim to provide information and guidance on how more sustainable or green housing can be planned and designed within the Zambian context.

The guidelines developed will clearly spell out what green buildings are as well as give performance criteria and guidance on social, environmental and economical aspects including a checklist for measuring this performance (please see text box for content). Once green building guidelines are in place, they are useful tools for awareness raising, design guidance, monitoring and verification as well as integrating sustainability principles into the construction sector. Further, experiences in other developing countries have shown green building guidelines to be crucial to create a market demand and uptake of green building techniques and practices. This has led to the development of rating tools which provide standards and benchmarks for green building and the establishment of the South African Green Building Council which not only rates green buildings, but also provides training and other auxiliary services.

The Green Building Guidelines will include the following sections

  • Objectives of the guidelines
  • How to use the guidelines
  • Structure of the guidelines
  • Climate change and sustainable development
  • Social, economic and environmental context
  • Government policy
  • Construction and the built environment impacts
Green buildings
  • Defining green building
  • The opportunities offered by green buildings
  • Green building criteria and performance measurement
Environmental performance criteria and guidance
  • Energy, water, materials, biocapacity, waste and pollution
Economic performance criteria and guidance
  • Transport, local economy, products and services, management, resource efficiency
Social performance criteria and guidance
  • Health, education, access, social cohesion, inclusion
  • Checklists