The right policies in the construction sector can have huge economic, social, and environmental impact for developing countries during the 40 to 70-year life of buildings going into construction. The buildings sector is one of the main consumers of energy and resources, using about 35% of global energy (and 60%

of electricity), 25% of global water, 40% of materials extracted globally, (UNEP SBCI), and emitting approximately one fifth of greenhouse gases (UNFCCC AR5). Yet it remains one of the most difficult sectors to improve because of the complex and soiled value chain. Building growth is faster in Africa than any other region. Cities swelling by 18 million inhabitants per year are increasingly stretched to deliver water and electricity to new developments, most of which comprise low income households often paying about 20% of

their disposable income on utility bills. Due to the long life cycle of the built environment, its vital that we don’t lock in inefficiencies that cannot be addressed for many years to come at the end of the buildings lifecycle.

Parallel to the construction boom, many countries in Africa are experiencing power and water shortages, further amplifying the need to alleviate the burden placed on scarce natural resources. Efficiency in the built environment is critical to manage future demand on cities for energy and water.

The paper assesses the impacts and benefits of the IFC’s EDGE Green Building Program. It reveals that split incentives exist between the builder/developer who wants to minimize construction costs and the owner who has an interest in the all-in life-cycle cost of operations and maintenance of a building. Traditional valuation techniques do not account for these green features, creating a need for green measures to be defined and verified so these benefits can be valued and on-sold. The EDGE Green Buildings Program hopes to provide a solution through the use of a mixture of regulatory and voluntary approaches (depending on the country), to shift the building and construction sector towards a more resource-efficient development path. Introducing either method to a market requires a whole value chain approach and focused capacity building, monitoring, and support to ensure that implementation occurs. In Africa, greater market fragmentation, weaker public sector resources, and higher sensitivity to increases in up-front costs exacerbate all these barriers.