This blog is a platform for providing project updates and generating discourse with the Faculty of the Built environment, Uganda Martyrs University as part of a wider study; Energy in Low Income Tropical Housing (ELITH), which is being undertaken with a cross section of partners: The University of Cambridge; The University of Ningbo China; National Housing and Building Research Agency, Tanzania; King Mongut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand; University of Warwick and Uganda Martyrs University.

Project background and scope

Worldwide, there is a growing concern on the need to better manage the world’s available resources as observed by increasing mobilisation and literature on the subject of sustainability. Buildings and their use have been noted to be a major consumer of energy and materials. It is estimated that 40% of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings, during construction and operation. (Dixit et al., 2010; Menzies, 2012) Furthermore, the construction industry is reported to be the largest consumer of raw materials requiring 6 tonnes of material per person per year. (Menzies, 2012) It is clear therefore, that the conservation of materials and energy within this sector will go a long way in towards improving the management of the planets resources.

The topic of ‘energy efficient’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco’ housing has attracted huge interest in the developed world leading to new designs, materials, publications and regulations. However for tropical housing, very little has been done to make them more energy-sustainable. With increasing living standards and explosions in population, the consequences of often-poor design are beginning to strain finite resources.

In this light, Energy and Low Income Tropical Housing (ELITH) as a research programme is intended to identify, and then begin to propagate, methods of reducing the energy consumption of low-income housing in tropical countries.

Energy is used both in creating houses and again in occupying them. The programme is therefore divided into separate studies of how good design can reduce both ’embodied’ and ‘use’ energy.

The project has the following objectives:

  1. To measure embodied energy in materials;
  2. To measure operational energy in current low income housing;
  3. To improve rural building materials production in Africa;
  4. To reduce housing- operational (use) energy and costs on building services and appliances;
  5. To review and develop passive design strategies in tropical housing;
  6. To reduce housing embodied energy and costs;

The overall objectives have been separated into two components, objective 1 and 2 cover information gathering while 3 to 6 constitute recommendations based on information gathered.



Achilles Ahimbisibwe | achilles.ace357@gmail.com

Thomas Niwamara | pniwe@yahoo.com


Peter Wasswa


Alex Ndibwami

Lecturer in Architecture
Faculty of the Built Environment
Uganda Martyrs University
P.O.Box 5498, Kampala UGANDA E.A.
t:  +256 79 fbe 1010 (323 1010)
c: +256 77 265 0986
f:  +256 38 241 0100
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