Future is Green!

Pakistan needs sustainable green housing as the existing infrastructure is depleted and worn-out.

By Zohaib Ahmed | July 2022

With a population of over 224 million, Pakistan is the 5th largest country in the world. Growing at a whopping 2% rate, the increasing population demands a host of civic amenities and basic utilities, among them housing tops the list. Pakistan needs to build around 35,0000 housing units per year as against the current figure of 15,0000 units, which is 58 percent less than the actual demand. The housing scheme, initiated by the previous government, is now in limbo owing to prevailing economic challenges confronting the country and the scheme is unlikely to continue further, more's the pity. In addition to that, the existing buildings along with new structures are not green or environment-friendly, emitting more carbon and making the air more polluted as usual.

To the contrary, sustainable housing, also referred to as green housing, is an inevitable part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the universal guidelines adopted by the UN member countries. Green housing, as a rule, resorts to using modern construction methods without over-relying on steel and cement since they cause carbon emissions to a great extent. For instance, heating, cooling and powering the houses, offices, and other buildings contribute to 27 percent of carbon emissions. Additionally, cement and steel together add 10 percent to the existing rate of carbon emissions every year. To align with the global population growth rate, about 13,000 new buildings will be needed per day by 2050, says The Economist.

However, the untrammeled construction sector in Pakistan has no regard for the environment and thus is not green, producing more carbon and adding to the climate concerns more than ever both for human lives and for flora and fauna, not to exclude agricultural crops. For example, as per the Pakistan government sources, mango production in the country has declined by almost 50 percent this year, and it is expected that the other crops will also be affected in the same manner. Making things worse, the concerned environmental protection department, by the same token, is good for nothing.

How to make the construction sector sustainable, green and eco-friendly?

First, the policymakers should revive the stalled housing scheme in the greater interest of the nation. The process must be environment-friendly using modern construction techniques and such green ad-ons as green roofs, and gardening space. Secondly, more energy-efficient buildings must be built, well-equipped with renewable energy resources. Renovation must be preferred over complete demolishing the building structures. As recommended by the UN, the imposition of carbon tax can also help to reduce the rate of carbon emission. Encouraging foreign direct investment can also promote green architecture, which is cost-intensive but doable.

In a word, Pakistan needs sustainable housing as the existing infrastructure is depleted and worn-out. A series of measures must be taken, such as going green, reducing carbon emissions and promoting planting as well as employing modern ways to build houses and infrastructure. The day is not far when every house in the country will be clean and green.