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How is sustainable construction shaping the cities of the future?

Sustainable cities of the future

African cities are experiencing rapid urbanisation as more people move into these areas. They are fast becoming densely populated and, with it, comes an increase in energy consumption and waste. So, how can our buildings help to keep our cities sustainable in the future?

If we look at the ideal circular economy, the waste we produce is converted into useful products once again, such as energy or reusable goods. Nature is the perfect example of a circular economy – there is no wastage and everything recycles into the circle of life. Architects, engineers and contractors can learn from nature and make our cities more sustainable.

Our cities are likely to be a lot more green in the future. Trees and plants will be planted wherever possible to control air quality and naturally filter carbon emissions out of the atmosphere. Buildings are likely to have their own source of electricity from solar panels and wind turbines. 

Wastewater and sewage will be filtered and processed to create usable water for washing, watering plants and for use in cooling systems. Our buildings will also harness rainwater for drinking. These are some of the ways in which sustainable construction will shape African cities in the future.

Abundance of trees on rooftops

Research has shown that not only do trees have the obvious benefit of removing greenhouse gases from the air, they can also increase the longevity of building rooftops by protecting them from sun damage and severe weather. The lifespan of a flat roof can be doubled by planting trees on top of buildings. 

These trees will improve the air quality in city centres where excessive carbon emissions from vehicles and industry are pumped into the atmosphere. They can help to combat the effects of climate change and protect the buildings beneath them at the same time. Making buildings last longer also results in less construction waste and a more circular economy.

Recycling water in cities

One of the key features of sustainable construction will be the management of water. Tanzania is prone to droughts and saving water will become a priority for citizens. Buildings in the future will have rainwater catchment systems and filters that allow them to store clean drinking water for residents.

In addition, they are likely to have their own wastewater processing plants. This technology is already being used in Africa, whereby used water from baths, sinks, washing machines and toilets is filtered and treated to create ‘clean’ (but not drinkable) water for use in the household. This greywater can be used to wash, mop and water gardens, which saves the clean drinking water for human consumption.

Harnessing renewable energy

Sustainable construction should carry the benefits forward in the lifespan of a building. This means using renewable sources of energy to generate electricity for residents. Africa is a sunny continent, which means that the use of solar panels to create energy is a viable alternative to coal-fired power stations.

Each building in the city of the future is likely to become self-sufficient. They will have a combination of solar and wind power, backed up by large banks of batteries to store the excess energy created. Harnessing renewable sources of energy will minimise our dependence on coal and water to generate electricity, creating sustainable economies in the process.

These are just some of the ways in which sustainable construction will shape the cities of the future. By tackling several environmental issues at once, skyscrapers and apartment blocks will greatly reduce the impact of human activity on the environment. Most of these sustainable systems will also help cities and citizens to save money and lead more environmentally-friendly lifestyles.

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LafargeHolcim is a leading building materials and solutions company that has been operating in international markets for decades. We produce cement and aggregates for construction projects, ranging from small affordable housing developments to large-scale infrastructure projects such as high-rise buildings, dams and bridges. 

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LafargeHolcim Tanzania has been supplying the country and neighbouring countries with our world-class Tembo cement brand for over 30 years. Our head office and fully-integrated plant are located in Mbeya, Southwest Tanzania.

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At LafargeHolcim Tanzania, we believe customers come first. We listen to your specific requirements to supply and develop the best solutions for your needs. As the new leader in building materials, you can also rely on our cutting-edge research and development capabilities that have resulted in the finest materials for your construction projects, whether large or small.

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