Mark Chieshe

Greenage has developed an innovative green student housing value proposition for tackling the student accommodation problem in Nigerian universities. By placing EDGE at the core of its business, Greenage is unlocking private sector investment to re-define the future of student housing accommodation in the country and creating business value for shareholders.

Decent, comfortable, and quality student hostel accommodations enhance university learning and ensure good health while aiding students’ hygienic habits.

In Nigeria, the student hostel accommodation sector is huge, both in terms of the magnitude of the gap in availability and the potential for private sector investment. There are currently more than 170 universities in the country and the tally is increasing. This includes 43 federal universities, 48 state universities, and 79 private universities.

In addition, the country also has 17 federal and 26 state-owned Polytechnics, with several others owned by private individuals and other religious or corporate bodies. Statistics show the total population of tertiary enrollment exceeds two million students competing each year for about 750,000 admission slots. Average annual growth is estimated to be above 12 per cent.

This population growth pattern has long outpaced the capacities of existing hostel accommodations in the universities. Facing financial challenges, university administrators lack the means to build more bedspaces to meet the increasing demand as annual intakes surge.

The result is a crisis that needs a sustainable fix. Less than 30 per cent of enrolled students are housed on campuses in shared accommodations that are conducive for learning. A majority of students are compelled to rent expensive spaces “off-campus” in the surrounding university environments.

Fixing Student Housing

This gap is a profitable investment opportunity for developers and the private sector. And there are several players already in the space.

However, Greenage Development Managers, a private equity-driven fund and provider of on-campus student and faculty housing projects stands out. First, on account of its unique environmentally friendly approach and second, because of its adoption of EDGE Certification for its buildings.

As a climate-smart developer, Greenage has set out not only to meet the demand but to do so in a manner that aligns with the future direction of the global built environment by adopting green building practices. This futuristic focus has put Greenage ahead of the competition and on a more sustainable path to business growth, brand equity, and profitable returns to its investors.

Incorporating green building practices into its hostel designs enables Greenage to deliver bed spaces that use water and energy more efficiently, leading to lower utility, operations, and maintenance costs.

“We are out to make a sustainable difference in the student housing space in Nigeria. And that means charting a different path. Instead of building in the conventional fashion, which could be in the short term, less expensive, we have decided to think and build green. This is because it shows not only our commitment to building a better climate smart future, but because it makes business sense too for our investors,” an Executive Director with Greenage, Mr. Marcellinus Nnaedozie said.

Greenage understands that buildings account for about 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions and that resource-efficient buildings leave a lighter carbon footprint on the environment.

“From what we see, it is clear to us that the future of the real estate sector, and in particular, the student housing space is green. So, it is simply logical that we should toe this line – for the planet, and of course, for our bottom line,” Nnaedozie added.

Leveraging EDGE Certification to Grow

Greenage has put EDGE certification at the core of its transformative vision: a future-smart, climate-friendly, and sustainable student housing accommodation in Nigeria. The developer has signed a long-term commitment to certify all its hostel projects in Nigeria using EDGE.

“EDGE is a vital part of our efforts to re-imagine a green future for student hostels in Nigeria because it provides a scientific and the transparent basis for us to measure in exact terms, how much water and energy our buildings would save, and to also make projections as to the future value of our investments,” Nnaedozie added.

An innovation of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) provides a measurable way for design teams to optimize their designs to achieve certification as green. It includes a cloud-based platform to calculate the cost of going green and utility savings. Fast, smart, affordable, and inclusive, EDGE is powered by a state-of-the-art engine that possesses reliable city-based climate and cost data, consumption patterns, and algorithms for predicting the most accurate performance results.

The Greenage Climate Smart Value Proposition for Universities
By adopting EDGE, Greenage has been able to unlock new sources of investment to drive its hostel projects. They have set up a $150 million sustainable housing fund to power development of 100,000 bed spaces across the country over a ten year period. The first phase of the program is estimated to cost about $50million.

The business proposition is simple: Interested universities provide the land, and Greenage sources financing through strategic partnerships to build, operate, and maintain the hostels at a modest fee that students would pay.

In essence, they would be delivering a managed hostel accommodation service that ensures proper structural maintenance and provision of relevant amenities to create a comfortable living experience for students.

The proposition is a perfect fit for cash strapped universities in Nigeria. With minimal financial commitment, universities stand to build resource-efficient student residences, providing an amenity that is crucial to learning while playing a vital role in fostering an eco-friendly campus community.

As expected, the company’s green value proposition is receiving a lot of interest within the university community.

Last month, Greenage performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the development of a 500-1,000 bed student accommodation at the Veritas University, a Catholic university located about 45 kilometers from Abuja City Center, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The project has received a preliminary EDGE Advanced certificate from thinkstep-SGS. Based on the design optimizations made possible by EDGE software, the hostel building is projected to record 46 per cent in Energy Savings, 46 per cent Water Savings and 51 per cent Less Embodied Energy in Materials.

“Using the EDGE Platform, our design teams were able to establish that it is possible for us to achieve those savings. For energy we would deploy climate-smart, energy technologies such as external shading devices, low-E coated glass, natural ventilation in student bedrooms, solar photovoltaics, and energy-saving lighting in internal, external, and back-of-house spaces.

“For water, we plan to use dual-flush water closets in student bedrooms and bathrooms, water-efficient landscaping, and kitchen faucets, a rainwater harvesting system, and low-flow showerheads, aerators and auto shut-off faucets in student bathrooms,” Nnaedozie added.

It is notable that Greenage has within a short time developed an impressive pipeline of nine hostel projects across the Nigerian university landscape. Notable examples of universities that have made indicative offers for the Greenage green student hostel business proposition include the Arthur Jarvis University in Calabar for 10,000-bed spaces and the University of Nigeria Nsukka for 10,000 spaces.

“I must confess that the response has been pleasantly overwhelming. The management of these universities have bought into our value proposition because they do not only believe in our track record of performance but because of the international dimension that IFC EDGE brings to the mix. Ever since we started, we have noted a very encouraging level of enthusiasm from university administrators across the country,” he added.

The positive rally from the university community is a strong testament to the sustainability credentials of the Greenage vision, which aligns with Nigeria’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2030. This eco-friendly business focus should also be a source of inspiration for other developers in Nigeria to build green and commit to EDGE Certification.

Chieshe wrote in from Abuja