Cladding to counter climate change in Nigeria

Nigeria is big, and it’s only going to get bigger.

Two years ago, the United Nations released the “World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision” report, among whose more remarkable facts was that by 2050, Nigeria would be a larger country than America.

Lagos’s population alone is currently estimated to be between 17.5 and 21 million people, depending on whether you quote figures by the Lagos State Government or National Population Commission of Nigeria.

Either way, the largest city in Africa exemplifies the mass influx of citizens into Nigeria’s urban areas. And that is only expected to continue, given the nation is now also has the continent’s biggest economy.

However, the phenomenal rate of capital-driven urbanisation has sparked myriad concerns about how cities like Lagos will stand up to the challenge of building new infrastructure to support business concerns.

The reason, it seems, is that climate change is wreaking untold havoc on developing urban environments, especially in countries like Nigeria where cities are highly susceptible to urban flooding.

An interesting paper in the African Research Review, “Climate Change Impacts on the Built Environment in Nigeria, points to some harrowing facts.

The report indicates that potential climate change impact on Nigeria’s built environment include:

Biodiversity: Increased competition from exotic species, spread of disease and pests, affecting both fauna and flora; increased ground movement in affecting underground pipes and cables; and reduced comfort and productivity of workers.

Water Resources: Heightened water demand in hot, dry times; reduced soil moisture and groundwater replenishment.

Health: Poorer air quality affects asthmatics and causes damage to plants and

Buildings; higher mortality rates in November to June due to heat stress.

It is against this backdrop that innovative new methods are being developed to protect buildings, particularly by way of environmentally-friendly cladding.

A few years ago, the University of Greenwich School of Architecture and Construction was investigating the use of ethical synthetic biology to create ‘living’ materials that could be used to clad buildings.

The research involved the utilisation of protocells to fix carbon from the atmosphere or to create a coral-like skin, which could protect buildings.

AfriClad, a company which provides cladding solutions in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, has also begun to roll out Equitone high density fibre cement boards, a type of cladding characterised by their durable and lightweight design.

The core material is made up of a combination of high grade cement and cellulose fibres which are combined with water and pressed at high pressure into the resulting boards. The boards are exceedingly strong and have multiple resistances to environmental influences such as extreme temperatures, water and growth of living organisms, aggressive air and the outbreak of fires.

As Yomi Adedeji and Olu Ogunstone, of the Federal University of Technology point out in their paper, Anticipated Contributions of Modern Building Materials to Sustainability: Climate Change Scenario in Hot and Humid Regions of Nigeria: “The use of walls from composite materials should take the place of monolithic walls commonly used in Nigeria.

“The composite properties of these materials, which can be in layers as used in some advanced countries, reduce the transfer of heat into the interior. Such materials could be insulated externally with non-conducting heat materials to reduce heat gained into buildings from excessive direct heat from increased direct sun rays and surrounding environments.”

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