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25th January, 2017.
Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events

New landmark conference will explore sustainability for building Africa

SPACE, will brings together real estate decision-makers and clean energy sector.

Proving that building with sustainable methods and materials is also the most cost-effective way to ensure a long-term profitable future is the ambitious aim of a unique, new event in Nairobi in June, the Sustainable Properties Africa Conference and Exhibition, SPACE.

It is the brainchild of Matthew Weihs, Managing Director of Bench Events, who has realised the continent huge potential during seven years running the successful and on-going Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF).

SPACE will cover the most efficient ways to build and operate hotels, commercial buildings, public sector and mixed use developments and residential projects. It brings together investors, major hotel groups, real estate owners and developers, as well as renewable energy experts, alongside architects, engineers and government officials.

Significantly, the event is taking place during the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Weihs, founder of Africa Event Services which is co-organising SPACE, said: "The temptation in the past has been to avoid sustainability on the grounds of cost. But that is a huge misconception. Environmentally friendly materials and building methods are becoming increasingly accessible, and in the long-term they prove not only better for the environment, but also cost-effective, and more profitable. Crucially, it is something that the big investors want to put their money behind.

"Of course there are huge challenges, and they will all be discussed at SPACE. It is the first time there has been such a wide-ranging gathering."

The event will hold at the Radisson Blu Hotel, June 13 to 14 will feature key-note speakers from big hotel groups, such as Carlson Rezidor, as well as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), influential investors, and environmental investment groups. The opportunity to network and build business alliances will be built into the programme.

Inge Huijbrechts, global vice-president Responsible Business, The Rezidor Group, said: "It is critical that the sustainable building conversation is had at investor level. In the growing Africa economies, sustainable buildings and infrastructure are possible. It allows countries and cities to leapfrog and create future-proof assets with important economic and ecological gains."

Energy costs are one of the main barriers to profitability in Africa building projects. Sometimes they can leap by huge margins in the space of a year. Sustainable building can help insure against those unpredictable threats. There are already examples of best practice, particularly in South Africa and Morocco. The conference aims to stimulate further success stories through workshops and panel sessions, covering leadership, the importance of government involvement, planning, regulation, materials, and how to accurately gauge return on investment.

Consultants and advisors will be on hand for discussion. The IFC principal green buildings specialist, Prashant Kapoor, one of the speakers, said: "SPACE will be a significant platform to showcase the economic value of resource-efficient building. Improving the efficiency of the future built environment in Africa and beyond is not only critical for the environment, but makes smart business sense for builders, owners and occupants."

And with the Africa young population moving increasingly to cities, urbanisation is a massive challenge as building projects guzzle huge amounts of the world’s energy.

Weihs said: "Our ambition is that SPACE will connect business leaders to create deals that will revolutionize both the construction and the energy sectors in Africa.”

SPACE will take place at the Radisson Blu, Nairobi Upper Hill on June 13-14 2017. Prominent speakers include: Prashant Kapoor, Principal Industry Specialist-Green Buildings, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Stephen West, Managing Director, UK Climate Investments LLP, Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President Responsible Business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Madhur (Muddy) Ramrakha, Board Treasurer Kenya, Green Building Society and Abraham Muthogo Kamau, Director, Business Origination, Miradi Capital.

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