When you meet Akosua Serwah Obeng Mensah, you realise within minutes that her passion for sustainable architecture shines through conversation. It is what drives her to make time for green building advocacy and social impact despite a full plate. Between juggling her duties as a senior architect at Orthner Orthner Associates (OOA), private and social projects, she finds time to contribute as social secretary for the Ghana Institute of Architects (GIA) as well as social impact programmes like the IFC EDGE Green Building Students’ competition.
EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) is a free software, a green building standard, and an international green building certification system developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The EDGE programme is supported with funding from the UK Government and Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and helps to identify the most practical solutions for emerging markets to build green in a fast, easy, and affordable way while considering the local baseline. The local baseline usually consists of local building codes where available, typical building typologies, climatic data and typical utility costs.
As mentioned earlier, Akosua’s passion for sustainable architecture continues driving her to seek self-development, including training and receiving accreditation as an EDGE Expert. Becoming an EDGE Expert increases your understanding of which energy and water-saving systems and solutions are best for a particular location and climate, and how to measure the collective impact of design decisions in the aggregate. Experts also gain deeper knowledge of the EDGE software and certification process.
Akosua was kind enough to share her EDGE Expert accreditation journey, the challenges and opportunities, as well as a few pointers to prospective EDGE Experts.
According to Akosua, before taking the EDGE Expert exam she was already designing sustainably as that is the culture of OOA, the EDGE programme; and APP provided additional tools which could be used to verify effects of the sustainable interventions being made. The EDGE App requires that certain values, such as the u-value of external walls, are calculated in more detail as would usually be required; and forces the designer to go into more detail about effects of the sustainable measures taken.
The path and opportunities
Like Akosua, you can also become an EDGE Expert – be you a sole practitioner, in-house staff or a member of an engineering or architecture practice. You are advised to take EDGE Expert training in order to gain more knowledge about the EDGE App and certification process. The training, which prepares you for the EDGE Exam, can be taken in any of the following ways: local training, which is provided in a classroom environment by licenced training providers; online training, which is provided in English or Spanish and can be taken at your own time and pace; and lastly, livestream training which is provided by accredited certifiers with virtual trainers leading the webcasts.
Beyond being an EDGE Expert, Akosua has become an ambassador and continues encouraging her colleagues to take the EDGE exam and assist their clients to obtain EDGE Certification, taking advantage of the EDGE App to freely use the EDGE interventions to model their buildings and help their clients make savings on their buildings.
“You can put your building specifications in the App and see in real-time the effects of your interventions in conserving energy, water and embodied energy over the baseline in your locality. Using the information provided, the App will model annual expenditures, annual savings with which the real-time effects of the various interventions made can be demonstrated to the client – and used to change or modify design decisions based on the cost. I encourage everybody to download the App and upload some projects on it to check if it meets the EDGE standard. The App is free, so the preliminary modelling can be completed without any payment; and once the EDGE standard is met, the client can decide whether to certify immediately or at a later date,” Akosua advised.