Edinburgh Research Explorer

Informational Database for Sustainable and Energy Efficient Materials in sub-Saharan Africa (DEEMA)

Project: Research

Effective start/end date1/02/181/09/19


The need for detailed information on the performance of materials is a crucial part of the decision-making process for contemporary building design. However, such information is severely lacking across much of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular regarding sustainability and life cycle environmental impacts (e.g. embodied CO2 emissions, resource availability and use). This represents a barrier for built environment professionals to engage in environmentally conscious design aimed towards buildings with reduced environmental impact. This project is a first step towards addressing this challenge, by undertaking an initial investigation of properties and life cycle environmental impacts of one or two basic construction material(s), which will ultimately develop into an extensive database of materials for built environment professionals working across sub-Saharan Africa. The project is timely because of the recent proliferation of informal sector players in the industry and their limited engagement with environmentally conscious initiatives; this is of growing concern in the context of UN-Habitat programmes, such as the “Energy Efficiency in Buildings” project, which sought to grow awareness for sustainable construction and sustainable development. Given the potentially massive upcoming demand for buildings across sub-Saharan Africa over the next century, consideration for the environmental impacts of this demand is significant. An important aspect of this project is thus to disseminate such knowledge of sustainable construction effectively, and to ensure it reaches the intended stakeholders. This project will build on earlier engagements by Buro Happold, which has been proactive in developing and maintaining online databases geared to design professionals. It will also have synergy with the on-going EPSRC funded project “Resource Efficient Built Environment Lab
(REBEL)” in Edinburgh. The project will thus serve as an important milestone for the development of a comprehensive open-source database for the region.

Research outputs