By Terhemen Mark Chieshe
Sustainability is fast becoming an important design and construction feature of prime office buildings. Green office buildings drive better business outcomes, maximize asset value, and ensure occupant satisfaction while reducing environmental impact. Cities from the United States to China and Africa are witnessing a green evolution of the office marketplace as sustainable building practices become mainstream and demand grows.
This evolution of the office market reflects two trends. First is the increasing threat of climate change and the need for heavy carbon-emitting sectors—such as construction, which accounts for over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions—to decarbonize faster. Increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, storms, droughts, and sea-level rise underscore the urgency for action.
For the built environment, green building practices provide a sustainable and profitable climate mitigation solution. They ensure efficient energy and water usage, lowering the carbon footprint and operational costs.
Second is the multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity that green buildings present to investors and developers. An IFC analysis estimates this to be worth $24.7 trillion in emerging markets by 2030.
As a component of the real estate market, office buildings are at the center of this industry transformation. Financial services, multinational corporations, tech firms, and businesses that lease premium office spaces in cities worldwide are becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers of climate change and knowledgeable about the benefits of eco-friendly office spaces. They demand buildings that attract and retain the best tenants, foster collaboration, and innovation, and increase employee productivity and well-being. At the same time, they want to reduce operating costs, energy use, and environmental impact.
The convergence of these factors is accelerating the demand for high-performance office buildings and establishing them as the future standard of the modern work environment.
Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) – Driving Sustainability in the Lagos Office Market Place
One of the leading drivers of sustainable office buildings in Nigeria is Africa Capital Alliance, a pan African equity firm with a proven track record of identifying profitable investment opportunities.
“Sustainability aligns with our vision and corporate brand. It is key to the future of our business. Beyond moral and ethical considerations, as a forward-looking investment firm, we believe that there are tangible economic reasons why sustainable office buildings are a good investment for the future,” says Okechukwu Enyinna Enelamah “Okey”, the Chairman/Co-Founder, African Capital Alliance
Africa Capital Alliance understands global trends in the real estate industry, changing consumer preferences, and has focused its business strategy on sustainability. The firm also recognizes the massive investment opportunity that climate-smart, high-performance green office spaces present for its future as well as the potential value for its shareholders.
ACA has leveraged its experience and network within the financial community to form strategic partnerships with reputable developers that are helping it to innovate and deliver premium and resource-efficient office buildings in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city.
Like other reputable developers, ACA is leveraging EDGE, a global green building certification system currently available worldwide, to build green. An innovation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), helps developers champion eco-friendly change in different building sectors. ACA is creating a distinctive brand in the market through its commitment to using EDGE Certification system for its projects.
One of ACA’s signature green office projects is Alliance Place. ACA delivered the modern eco-friendly office in Ikoyi, a high-profile commercial and residential district in Lagos, in partnership with Samges Investment Limited. Alliance Place features a light and airy ground floor reception area and over seven floors of flexible office space. It uses resource-efficient design features and technologies to reduce its environmental impact and lower operating costs. This includes a reduced window to wall ratio, higher thermal performance glass, variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, and energy-saving lighting. It also uses low-flow faucets and water-efficient water closets and urinals in all bathrooms to boost efficiency in water use. Other features include in-situ reinforced concrete slab for the floor, steel sheets on steel rafters for the roof, solid, dense concrete blocks for internal and external walls, and plasterboards on metals studs for interior walls, while aluminum profile cladding was used for exterior walls.
View of Alliance Place, Ikoyi, Lagos
Alliance Place has received the final EDGE certification from Sintali-SGS, achieving 23% energy savings, 32% water savings, and 22% less embodied energy in materials. This means lower utility costs for tenants.
As a result of its sustainability features, Alliance Place has attracted international tenants sensitive to the impact of buildings on the environment and values the benefits that sustainable office buildings have on staff productivity and utility payments. They include IFC, Mastercard, and Selectium (Hewlett Parkard Enterprise).
Alliance Place tenants enjoy multiple benefits, including well-ventilated spaces that enhance staff productivity and over 27.5% reduction in monthly utility costs compared to conventional office spaces.
For ACA, the return on investment has been encouraging. Despite premium prices for the spaces, tenants see good value and are seeking space expansions. ACA is convinced that it made the right choice by choosing to build green.
ACA has also partnered with Cornerstone Insurance to build Cornerstone Tower, a premium resource-efficient office accommodation in Victoria Island, Lagos. An architectural masterpiece with respect for the environment at its design core, the EDGE certified building incorporates a range of climate-smart solutions that guarantee comfortable spaces for occupants, a sense of prestige, and lower utility operations and maintenance costs.
By optimizing the building design using EDGE software, the developer achieved 31% energy savings by reducing window-to-wall ratio, insulated roof, higher thermal performance glass, lighting controls for corridors, staircases, and occupancy sensors. The building also uses 53% less water due to fixtures such as low-flow faucets, dual-flush water closets, and water-efficient urinals. This saves both the building owner and the tenants money.
In the residential segment, ACA has teamed up with Elalan Group, a construction and civil engineering firm, to develop Blue Waters. Located in Lekki Phase 1, an affluent area on the south of east of Lagos city, Blue Water is an imposing architectural masterpiece that dots the Lagos skyline.
The first phase of the project, named Sapphire, is a 17-story 124-unit residential tower. The modern building has thermal performance glass, energy-efficient lighting, and cooling systems to reduce energy use by 27%, low-flow faucets, and dual-flush water closets that minimize water use by 28%. For occupants, this means lower utility costs while owners have the room to charge premium rates. The project has received a preliminary EDGE certificate.
It is clear that institutional investors are shifting finance towards sustainable building projects in response to climate concerns, pressure from governments and regulators. For investors and developers in the Nigerian office market space, these developments represent a chance to innovate, diversify their portfolios, and take the lead in accelerating positive change while strengthening their brand in sustainable leadership like Africa Capital Alliance is doing.
ACA’s decision to put sustainability at the heart of its business is ethically right. It also makes sound business sense. It is time for other big players in Nigeria’s real estate industry to take a cue from ACA and join the green movement for a better planet and profitable business.
Terhemen M. Chieshe is a housing policy analyst based in Abuja