Globally, buildings account for 40 percent of global carbon emissions making them a major source of pollution. Green buildings are constructions that embody the principles of sustainable development in that they are built in line with high environmental standards throughout all stages of the building life cycle, including planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green buildings aim at minimizing energy requirements, reduce water consumption, use efficient materials and resources, reduce waste generation and ultimately conserve and enhance the surrounding environment. Building green not only has positive impacts on the environment, but also reduces the running costs of buildings and increases the productivity and health of inhabitants.
Incorporating Green Building Approaches into Infrastructure Projects: Global Communities prioritizes protecting the environment and the promotion of green building in the West Bank and globally. Recognizing the importance of the green building movement and the benefits of building green, Global Communities, under its Emergency Jobs Program (EJP, funded by USAID; closed in January of 2011) implemented one of the first green building projects in the West Bank, the construction of the Safeer Center in Askar camp. In addition, Global Communities has tried to mainstream green building approaches in all projects, including grey water treatment in a school in Merkeh, the use of xeriscaping in Beit al Tifel youth club project in Hebron, and the provision of skylights and trombe wall windows in a community center in Deir Qadis. Green building approaches continue under the Local Government & Infrastructure (LGI) program funded by USAID through incorporation of cost effective and easily implemented green building elements into all designs and projects.
Awareness Raising & Skills Enhancement in Green Building:
Global Communities has also held regular green building workshops and training sessions over the last three years under both the EJP and LGI programs. In June 2013, Global Communities supported the Engineers Association � Jerusalem Center and the Higher Green Building Council in launching the Palestinian Green Building Guidelines
in Ramallah/Al-Bireh. These guidelines are the necessary first step for instituting a national system for green building design and construction that will one day hopefully result in a mandatory green building code supported by the national government. The launch was attended by over 200 stakeholders, including donors, municipalities, ministries, and other non-profit or engineering firms. The first day focused on sharing the highlights of the green building guidelines with participants, explaining what constitutes green building in the Palestinian context and the scoring system for getting a 'green building� designation. The second day was a more targeted training for about 40 participants from particularly government bodies to learn how to apply the green building guidelines in new project design.
For more information, please see video coverage of the workshop here.
Previous workshops have focused on promoting general awareness on
green and sustainable building and incorporating renewable energy sources into design and construction approaches. These cutting edge
workshops are implemented in cooperation with Khatib & Alami
, one of the leading engineering firms in the Arab World working on the green building design and construction industry. These workshops also serve as a forum for information exchange among the key stakeholders working in the sector.
In addition, to build the capacity of an emerging generation of young engineers, each year two or three young fellows from the Engineering Fellows Program are selected to join an 8-week training at Khatib and Alami Engineering offices in the UAE. The training aims at developing the fellows� skills in green building and gives them the opportunity to participate in a project anticipated for either LEED or other green building rating systems. Every cohort of fellows also takes a green building training course and environmental impact assessment course as part of their fellowship experience.
In addition, green awareness and outreach events are organized annually for children to promote environmental stewardship through fun activities, such as environmental drawing or science fair competitions, clown shows, puppet theatre, environmental clubs and environmental education kits, and comic books. An example of such a project is the production of a comic book story that aimed at educating children in communities where Global Communities works on some main concepts in green building, namely water and energy efficiency, creating green spaces, and recycling.
Also the program aims at the production of technical briefs on key issues facing the green building sector in the West Bank and Gaza including the LEED system in the United States, and the importance of proper building orientation.