The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Mr Mahama Ayariga, has made a strong case for the maximum use of daylight as an energy conservation measure, especially in the face of the current energy crisis.
“If it is day time, we must use transparent curtains so that natural light can come in. If you are constructing a house, we need to look at your house and tell you that it doesn’t make adequate provision for lighting so that you can have bigger windows with transparent curtains,” he said.
“During the day, you have heavy curtains that block light from coming so that the place becomes dark and then you put on the light. That is waste. That is inefficiency. If it is day time, you don’t need the light bulb on,” he said at media training on green economy at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region.
Organised by the UN systems in collaboration with Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), the training programme was meant to equip selected journalists from 15 media houses with the knowledge and skills required to report on the green economy.
When well implemented, the concept improves human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
The UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative, launched in late 2008, consists of several components whose collective overall objective is to provide the analysis and policy support for investing in green sectors and in greening environmental unfriendly sectors.
Mr Ayariga observed that in the housing sector, there were opportunities to build houses in a green way, using less energy but it had not been the case.
In the developed world, the enforcement of building codes makes it easy to ensure maximum use of daylight.
However, in Ghana, the law is lax on such requirements, making it easy for real estate companies to build houses with small windows that require a lot more energy to light and to keep them cool.
That situation, Mr Ayariga said, must stop especially when the country’s energy generation was not able to keep up with the speed of the expansion in the real estate sector.
“It is not that our country does not have enough resources. The problem of this country is not about the availability of resources but the waste of resources.
We are wasting it because we are running everything inefficiently,” he stated.
He observed that instead of louvre blades people used sliding windows that block air from coming into their rooms, when perhaps an option could be that before the day gets warm, louvre blades could be opened to allow air into the room.
According to him, the choices made over the years had made people to adopt lifestyles that would make them cope with very cold temperature in their offices.
“Whenever I go to Parliament, I complain every day that the chamber is too cold. MPs don’t want to sit in the chamber because it is so cold. When you sit there for a while, you begin to freeze, so they go out to the lobby and when they are needed for a vote, they run and come in,” he said.
“Why is it so cold? Can’t we reduce the energy we are consuming? It is the same with most offices; we put opaque curtains, sliding windows and air-conditioners and then complain that we don’t have enough energy. The expansion in the housing sector is so fast that the energy provision is not able to meet the speed to be able to meet everybody’s needs,” the minister added.
As part of measures to boost the country’s energy needs, Mr Ayariga said the government had begun the construction of biogas plants in some senior high schools in the Greater Accra.
According to him the needed tanks in some of the schools had been completed awaiting accessories from China to make them fully functional.
“If we get them running, the schools through the waste they generate may be able to produce as much electricity as they may need.”
The move, he said, would also save the country’s forest resources as most of the schools depended on firewood to cook for the students.
He said the government was aware of the opportunities that came with turning waste into a productive industry and would therefore put in the needed measures to help create green jobs while at the same time protecting the environment.
The National Coordinator for Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Ghana, Mr Samuel Dotse, observed that without a paradigm shift in the development of the country, the future of generations to come would be compromised.
“We can’t continue with business as usual because the pattern of economic development we are using now is not sustainable.”