One of the pillars of sustainable design and sustainable building to the Kenyan architect is the whole aspect of conservation and maximization of water as a natural resource. Water is an amazing God given resource whose very essence nurtures life. Water is tantamount to not only the human species but the whole of the animal kingdom depends on this very important commodity.
Introduction to Water Sustainability, Tips for the Kenyan Architect
One of the questions you may ask is, “With all the water lying around in the oceans, seas and natural water bodies, why should water be a subject of conservation and sustainability?” You may wonder why there is a fuss regarding water sustainability when it covers 70% of the earth’s surface. This is indeed a quandary until one takes to mind the fact that the water being referred to here is the natural resource that is potable and usable by man and animals for their bodily requirements and lifestyle needs.
Sea water and water that is not from fresh water sources has a high saline content and impurities that make it unsuitable for man’s consumption or for use in many day to day activities such as cooking and domestic purposes. It may be useful for other domestic non-potable sources, but also only if it is available.
Some of the world’s leading economies today are able to harness the unending resources offered by the oceans of the earth to provide their water supply within their communities. This is an astounding undertaking that makes use of the process of desalination and distillation to provide water resources that are potable and suitable for man’s general consumption. The downside of this mode of harnessing the vast water resources that are available is that this process is extremely energy intensive, and without reliable intensive power supply, this may not be a viable option. In addition, it is only feasible when the water being so produced shall be consumed in relative proximity to its source without the need for transporting it to a distant location. That may be an interesting quandary for the Kenyan architect or planner when planning a project at macro scale.
The Kenyan Architect Must Consider Water as a Valuable Natural Resource
That being said, it is apparent that water of the kind that is potable and suitable for man’s consumption is a limited resource, especially in the context of urbanization and needs of the world’s urban populace. Quite a few of the world’s urban centers are situated far from fresh water bodies, many in land-locked areas. Due to this, it is apparent that inasmuch as water may be in plenty globally, there exists a major limitation as regards the quantity of water available for the needs of such urban centers. In some places for example, it is intriguing to hear complaints regarding water supply to a town, yet there may exist a lake adjacent to the town where water may have been harvested using modern solutions. In essence, this solution becomes untenable when the source of water is too distant from the point of use, i.e. the urban center or development.
Therefore it is important that in the wake of urbanization, it is important that Kenyan architects must ensure during design that water supply to whatever urban development is guaranteed and in amounts that are plentiful enough to accommodate rapid growth of population. It becomes vital that water sources are properly identified and tapped into, even though they may not be sufficient to support human population beyond certain limits.
At the beginning of the use of a facility for example, the source of water may be more than adequate for its needs. A good example occurs often in the development of university master planning. You would often find that Kenyan architects and planners consider a 20 year cycle in the planning of these facilities due to economic considerations, and after that period a new plan may require to be adopted. However with the rapid explosion of population in urban centers, these provisions may be overwhelmed in a shorter period due to major demand from interested parties. In so doing, it is important that the physical resources required to sustain the facility require to be carefully utilized to ensure that the facility does not close down due to lack of essential resource needs.
Water Management is Key for the Kenyan Architect
As earlier mentioned, one of the key requirements that a facility has is regarding proper provision of infrastructure and services. Key areas of involvement regarding water management is
- Management of clean water supply
- Management of waste water and sewerage
- Management of natural water from existing water bodies and rainfall or storm drainage.
Facilities which will be able to attain proper management of these areas of water resource management can be said to have achieved sustainability with regards to water supply and consumption. The Kenyan Architect must consider these items with regard to planning of any development and must make proper spatial allocations for these elements in his design.