This June 13-14, Nairobi will play host to an exciting workshop and networking event under the acronym SPACE (Sustainable Properties Africa Conference & Exhibition). The aim of the two-day showcase, in the organisers’ own words, is ‘to bring people together to do deals’ – although from the looks of the fairly packed agenda, this tagline does the event a slight disservice in terms of its true ambition and scope.
A better summary of the conference’s overarching aim is found slightly down-page on its official website:
“SPACE is committed to educating real estate owners and developers on the best options for building design, energy savings and management and overall ROI on projects. Real estate is booming across Africa, SPACE will provide the network to do deals and obtain finance for quality and efficient developments.”
In other words, SPACE looks set to establish a framework for a long-overdue discussion set in that crucial middle ground where sustainability and profitability meet. By bringing together real estate developers, investors, experts in the fields of both climate science and the clean energy sector with representatives of major hotel chains, engineers and government officials, it promises to help some key African businesses and decision-makers learn about, explore and improve the overall sustainability of their premises and practices.
Indeed, no less a figure than Prashant Kapoor, principal Green Building Specialist with the World Bank Group (IFC), has billed the SPACE event as being “a significant platform to showcase the economic value of resource efficient buildings” in Africa. Precisely this sort of networking and education event has already proved a key step in the establishment of national eco-friendly building codes elsewhere around the planet – many of the world’s greenest countries are right now using the very techniques and expertise that will be shared and promoted at SPACE conference to safeguard their own future developments.
The real thematic masterstroke of the conference, of course, lies in its championing of the idea that sustainable development is not only the best way forward for the environment, but also the most efficient way to build for a long-term profitable future. By exploring the most cost-effective ways to build and operate hotels and other commercial buildings, the agenda guarantees the full attention of big business while championing everything from European precedents for renewable energy use to the environmental and financial benefits of industrial LED lighting in public sector, mixed-use and large-scale residential developments.
A number of workshops, talks, showcases and networking sessions over the course of the two days in Nairobi will cover areas such as energy efficiency (highlighting available options for managing energy consumption in operation), water and waste management (learning how best to manage water and waste cost-effectively, from small tips to large scale infrastructure options aimed at scaling back usage), and building design and materials (exploring the return of investment potential and the operational cost savings to be gleaned from sustainable design and development techniques).
To help these ideas spread and take root, there will also be a rapid business card exchange session (“essentially speed dating for business”), and a sponsors’ exhibition acting as a fundamental catalyst for forging new partnerships and business relations.
Delegate rates are set at $1,750 for access to the full two-day programme, and at the time of writing, the SPACE organisers are still showing active interest in engaging more ‘innovative and relevant speakers’ to add to the overall message of the conference; interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. A regional briefing panel designed to further develop the agenda, topics and themes for the conference will be held in Nairobi on June 13, and anyone wishing to attend as an invited guest or sponsor should also contact the same address.
Keynote talks, panel debates and round-tables already confirmed for the event feature such topics as ‘Successfully managing the maintenance of an efficient building to shorten pay back periods’; ‘The data dump – what is the supporting data for efficient buildings, and can it apply to African development?’; and ‘Success Stories – unearthing the Return on Investment’.
Fittingly enough for such an important topic in the future of sustainable development in Africa, there will also be a series of awards presented towards the end of the conference. After all, as underlined by Inge Huijbrechts, Global Vice President for Responsible Business with The Rezidor Hotel Group, it is “critical that the sustainable building conversation is had at investor level. In the growing African economies, sustainable buildings and infrastructure are possible.”
Let’s hope that SPACE helps push them a lot further up the national agenda.
13 – 14 June 2017
Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi Upper Hill