Green Building Council Cameroon (GBC CAM) is taking action against air pollution, a problem which is attributed to around 7 million deaths globally per year*. In this latest instalment of the Better Places for People thought leadership series, Roger Nwancha, Chief Executive Officer at GBC CAM, explains the innovative approach they are taking towards understanding the air over the city of Yaoundé through the Plant a Sensor project.
New sensors from Tongdy are logging air quality data in real time, both indoors and outdoors, across multiple locations. Despite having only just been installed, they are already showing crucial data that highlights those areas highest at risk from compounds such as Miniferme found in Yaoundé VI Subdivision. The data represents concentrations of air-borne CO2, VOCs and PM2.5.
The campaign aims to mobilise businesses and organisations to measure and share air pollution in and outside of buildings. Launched by GBC CAM as part of the global Plant a Sensor campaign, with WorldGBC working in collaboration with RESET, the Wilson Centre and Earth Day Network, the sensor data is collected in an interactive map. Stakeholders can then share learnings and solutions to tackle air pollution in the built environment.
Roger Nwancha, Chief Executive Officer at GBC CAM, talks to us about how they’re using the sensors:
Why do you choose to monitor air quality?
“If air quality is not monitored, we cannot measure it. If we cannot measure it, we cannot study, change, contain and ultimately sustain it. We at GBC CAM choose to Plant Air Quality Sensors so we can monitor, study, change, maintain and sustain the quality of air within the built environment, thus participating in saving humanity from air pollution.”
What have you learned thus far from the data, and how is that impacting how you’re operating your building?
“We are observing concentration patterns and from these we will develop strategies to curb excesses or increase outcomes of the various data being collected and monitored. This way we can quantify and qualify in measurable terms. This in turn is indispensable for policy creation and for educational purposes in the short and long term.”
What are the biggest challenges in Cameroon related to air quality and the built environment?
“First there is a general lack of awareness. Secondly, policy makers are not adequately informed of the aggravated danger of poor air quality to humanity, thus reluctance to inculcate this awareness into policy. We at GBC CAM are determined to reverse this trend in collaboration with the World Green Building Council, the Cameroon Government, and all other relevant stakeholders.”
Catriona Brady, Director of Strategy and Development at WorldGBC, leads the Health and Wellbeing Framework pioneered by WorldGBC in 2020. Consisting of six key principles to benefit human health and wellbeing, air quality is at the top of the list within principle one: Protect and Improve Health.
“There are a range of factors which contribute to what we call outdoor (ambient) and indoor air pollution,” Catriona explains. “Transport, agriculture and waste are key issues of course, but the contribution of the built environment cannot be underestimated.
“We are proud to welcome GBC CAM to this project of collective data sharing and learning. The sensors give us the data we need to really understand the levels of air pollution and from there we can find the targeted solutions that will get to the heart of the problem.”
* reference World Health Organisation
About Plant a Sensor
Plant a Sensor is part of WorldGBC’s Better Places for People project to improve quality of life for everyone by implementing health and wellbeing in the built environment. In collaboration with RESET and in partnership with the Wilson Centre and Earth Day Network, the Plant a Sensor initiative is a call to action within the World Green Building Council’s ‘Air Quality in the Built Environment’ campaign.
In order to reduce the detrimental impacts of air pollution on human health and the environment, both in and outside of buildings, we need to be equipped with accurate, high-quality data sets through monitoring current air quality. We can’t improve what we can’t measure. The fundamental purpose of this campaign is to acquire a global set of accurate data that will empower our network to enhance existing and vital awareness raising, technical work and/or advocacy campaigns.
About Green Building Council Cameroon (GBC CAM)
GBC CAM is a concerted effort by conscientious individuals who are acutely aware of the universal need to answer the clarion call of global warming and climate change. The urgency and immediacy of this existential threat is so important that the solution has to be multi disciplinary, inter connected, polyvalent, international and universal. In all these facets, “green” is actually the door to the future of human civilization. As an umbrella to all, “green building” is the hub of it all – where we live, work, play, learn and heal encompasses every facet of human activity and endeavor.
About the World Green Building Council
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) catalyses the uptake of sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere.
Transforming the building and construction sector across three strategic areas—climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity—we are a global action network comprised of 70 Green Building Councils around the globe.
As members of the UN Global Compact, we work with businesses, organisations and governments to drive the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Through a systems change approach, our network is leading the industry towards a net zero carbon, healthy, equitable and resilient built environment.
Tessa Eydmann-Peel, PR and Communications Coordinator, World Green Building Council
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