Energy in Buildings, Uganda

Fully glazed facades are a favorite in many tropical urban architecture projects because of the neat and elegant envelopes, notably for high rise buildings. However, associated overheating increases cooling energy demand and thus makes it essential to understand how to use glass in correct proportions to achieve aesthetic alongside functional quality in buildings. In Uganda, limited electricity supply makes it paramount to use the available energy sparingly. Despite the rising electricity demand in the country, generation capacities have shrunk. As a result, grid electricity is unreliable, delivered at high tariffs and still widely unavailable to 84% of the population. Regular power outages and load shedding can go for longer than 3 days each week. The impact of these blackouts is having stifling effects across various sectors including education, healthcare, industrial production as well as commercial enterprise. Since most energy is used in city buildings; and the associated costs are increasing beyond manageable environmental and financial limits, there is a critical need to innovate with technology to examine the energy potential of upcoming commercial projects. This investigation uses a simulated thermal study to investigate the impact of specific design strategies like orientation, solar shading, thermal mass and ventilation to lower cooling loads in an office space. It is envisaged that lower cooling peak loads permit adoption of smaller systems to sustain a pleasant room temperature like ceiling fans to replace larger air conditions units. Further, the investigation shows that lower overall energy demand makes installation of Photovoltaic panels more feasible to improve energy availability for office buildings than diesel generators. Energy efficiency and energy access are sometimes viewed as competing priorities rather than elements that can work together to achieve the goal of providing improved access to energy services. Moreover, energy efficiency is often perceived as a short-term solution to power outages or load shedding without considering that it is also a source of energy for future electricity planning. The escalating demand for urban infrastructure in Uganda instead of aggravating energy demand can achieve immediate energy benefits through conservation alongside onsite generation, then stimulate energy conversation for further urban developments. At an average of $2.5Million USD per MW, generation power plants are quite expensive for domestic revenue mobilization. However, Photovoltaic installations are more feasible at $1.5Million USD per MW and have the potential to be a shared investment across city developers.

Mentor: Nadir Abdessemed

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Achilles Ahimbisibwe – Uganda

Achilles Ahimbisibwe – Uganda

Achilles is architect and lectured Architecture for six years at Uganda Martyrs University. As a research assistant he was engaged in Supporting African Municipalities in Sustainable Energy Transitions (SAMSET) as well as the Energy and Low Income Tropical Housing project (ELITH). Achilles has experience engaging local communities, sensitizing people and informing policies at different levels on issues concerning sustainable; technologies and construction practices. He participated in assessing local construction materials in Machakos, Kenya as well as Rwinkwavu, Rwanda under the Joint Development of Courses for Energy Efficiently and Sustainable Housing in Africa (JENGA).