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The inauguration of Aqqaba School – The First Palestinian Green school

The Aqqaba Secondary Girls’ School, Tubas Governorate – the FIRST Palestinian “green school” – was inaugurated in a special ceremony hosted by the mayor of Aqqaba, Mr. Jamal Abu Ara. Officials and representatives from the Palestinian Authority, the US Consulate, USAID, Global Communities, and other organizations, as well as members of the community, were present to join in the celebration of this great achievement.

The Aqqaba Secondary Girls’ School, is the first Palestinian “green” school, based on Palestinian Green Building Guidelines (PGBG). The Palestinian Higher Green Building Council (PHGBC) and the Engineers Association-Jerusalem Center (EAJC) launched the national PGBG in 2013, and later promoted awareness of the guidelines through workshops and other activities as part of the USAID-funded Local Government and Infrastructure (LGI) program implemented by Global Communities.

Providing a safe and enhanced learning environment for Palestinian students is the main goal of LGI school projects. This school is one of 36 school projects built across the West Bank, including major school projects in Area C, under the LGI program. While LGI incorporated green elements to the extent possible in all of its infrastructure projects, the Aqqaba Secondary Girls’ School is the first designed and constructed in full compliance for PHGBC certification. Initially designed with aspirations of “silver” certification, as the school project progressed, additional elements were implemented so that the school could achieve “gold” certification.

The PHGBC will conduct its final evaluation of the school – and award certification based on that evaluation – after the school becomes operational. The $1.3 million project featured the construction of a two-floor green school building and was completed in May 2016. Green elements include, but are not limited to, indoor environment quality (i.e. thermal controls and high frequency lighting), noise reduction, energy efficiency (i.e. use of renewable energy sources) and water efficiency (i.e. rain water harvesting, gray water recycling). Additionally, LGI adopted the Uniform Building Code (UBC 97) for seismic resistance to enhance school safety in case of an earthquake, and for use of the school as a shelter in other emergencies. This academic year the school will host approximately 130 students but is designed for a capacity of up to 250 students.