Put the Green on the Walls

Mohammed Bashir, Zahra Aliyu and Sadiq Gulma paid a visit to the home of Mustapha Aminu in Abuja to learn about the inspiration for his green infrastructures.

“Trees make our environments aesthetically more pleasing. I wish everyone will buy into the idea.” Alhaji Mustapha Aminu


Mustapha Aminu’s residence


This building stands out among other buildings at Lake View Homes in Abuja. The wall climbers crawled up from the ground to cover the entire walls on the west and south sides of the house. They sometimes graciously find their way to the roof before they are cut down. The car park as well had a green roof. Only this time, it is grape fruits growing on the roof. The grapes grow twice in a year when the leaves are cut off entirely after the harvest. This is the urban life culture of Mr. Aminu, a green infrastructure enthusiast with a background in building technology.

He picked up the inspiration after his visit to Italy in the late 80s, and ever since he returned to Nigeria, he has been adorning the houses he lives in with green infrastructures, all in 3 different locations; Kaduna, Kano and Abuja as well. He learnt from his mother, how to grow grapes and as a result, he started growing them to be the sun shade of his fleet of cars. As urban farming continues to gain popularity in many cities, this offers another dimension of growing food on car shades roof.

The world is clamouring for greener spaces and Mr. Aminu, now an ICT based practitioner, has since been contributing to that. The Green Habitat Initiative (GHI) team who visited him learnt a lot from him and his family about maintaining wall climbers and grapes. The wall climbers can only grow on rough surfaces, as such the intention to put the climbers should be known before the finishing of the wall. Renovation efforts however can change the surfacing to suit the growing surface required.

Fear of reptiles such as lizards or snakes hiding in the wall climbers is absent as they are thorny. For all the years they had it, there wasn’t any threat of that. The climbers also produce little pear shaped pods much bigger than grapes, inedible though. But the pods growing from the wall climbers aren’t edible.

For maintenance, they cut the stems when they start going on the roof. As the house is attached to another block of house belonging to someone, the climbers extend to the neighbours’. Forunately, the neighbours liked the idea and asked not to be cut down. The climbers survive on the annual rainwater cycle. They were only irrigated for about a year or two as they were growing up. As of now, they had been occupying the house for about 5-6 years, and the climbers grew to cover the walls in about 3 years.

With the building sector responsible for about 40% of the GHG emissions, GHI advocates and encourages efforts like these in order to sequestrate emissions. Clients about to build houses can aim for bioclimatic design that will operate on a passive level or achieve net zero energy. This collective effort will mitigate adverse effects of the GHG emissions arising from the building and construction sector.

Abuja has a hot climate, densely composed of concrete and asphalt, thus suggesting the existence of the urban heat island phenomenon. This is when cities have significantly higher temperatures than nearby rural areas due to human activities. Concrete and asphalt absorb a lot of heat during the day time and re-emit this heat during the night. Instead of the cities to be cool in the night, they become hot due to this re-emission, and rural areas without a large volume of concrete will be significantly cooler. The reduction of heat sinks like concrete and replacement with green spaces will reduce this phenomenon. Residents, building owners and government should continue to encourage sustainable policies and frameworks to curb any adverse effect. If you are looking for more information regarding greening your house, GHI will be willing to help you and the environment.

Written by Sadiq Gulma

Green Habitat Initiative.


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