Noloholo Environmental Center:

Environmental Design

With the increasing threat of global climate change, many parts of rural Africa are experiencing erratic rainfall, increasing desertification and other environmental hardships that have drastic consequences for both people and wildlife. Green design methodologies combining ecological architecture and construction, regenerative design and environmental energy technologies can provide both short and long term benefits for rural African communities and their environments.

Designed with an appreciation of the natural environment

The Noloholo Environmental Center acts as an exemplary model of green, environmental design both in functionality and physicality. Architecturally designed to fit within the local landscape, the center replicates the shapes and designs that the Maasai traditionally utilize when building. Nestled on the top of a small hill, the main educational facility incorporates existing natural features like trees and boulders and boasts large windows that invite the environment in and maintain a stunning 360 degree view.

Functionally, the 10 acre campus exhibits numerous green-building techniques and technologies. A sophisticated rainwater harvesting system collects water from roofing and surface water runoff, settling out in large underground cisterns. A solar water pump moves water from the cisterns to the header tanks (neatly disguised in the educational facility’s roof). These tanks gravity feed water via particle and solar filters to the rest of the campus.  24 hour power is provided via a large installation of BP solar panels regulated by an Outback Power System (inverter and charge controllers) donated to APW via the WCN Solar Project.

In building design, Noloholo demonstrates new techniques villagers can use to increase the functionality and longevity of their buildings while reducing any negative environmental impacts. For example, our staff housing units, built in the traditional style of Maasai “bomas” or homesteads, incorporate glass windows and stone flooring to improve the lighting, ventilation and air quality of the structures. A special sealant, applied to the traditional walls made of dirt, sand, cow manure and ash, acts as a long-term weather proofing. This simple enhancement protects the inner core of poles longer, reducing the frequency with which trees are required for homestead maintenance. Other structures including the main educational facility utilize stone, surface-harvested from the surrounding ridges. Abandoned termite mounds provide a perfect mortar. The majority of our roofing is thatch, cut locally by the village women.