District S: Green Neighborhood Development – Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia

Nader Al-Nakib

District S is a neighborhood development project located in Beirut, Lebanon, that employs green planning and design principles in architecture, materials, mobility, and energy and water consumption. The development of the neighborhood adopts the premise that environmentally sustainable communities will offer residents and visitors a better quality of life and health. District S qualifies Lebanon as the fifth country worldwide to apply the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system to neighborhood development (ND), endorsing green living on a lifecycle basis. District S will be the first sustainable neighborhood in Lebanon, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean basin, according to LEED-ND.

District S integrates the principles of new urbanism, green building, and smart growth. It is carefully sited to be in close proximity to basic community services such as schools, convenience stores, places of worship, recreational facilities, and public transportation. These destinations are reachable by foot or bike, hence reducing the carbon footprint of transportation. The neighborhood infrastructure will be green. Street lighting will use energy efficient fixtures, the sewage system will use recycled content, inner roads will be shaded with trees, and a portion of rain water will be harvested. Pedestrian areas will be lined by trees, bushes, and greenery, allowing residents and visitors to walk or ride their bikes to the café, gym, school, or community center. Biking racks will be available for residents, visitors, employees, and shoppers. Hybrid and all-electric cars will have preferred parking spots. All roofs will be green. In summary, District S will exemplify green city development in Beirut.

The developers of District S are collaborating closely with their sustainability consultants to integrate environmentally friendly components in all phases of the project. All buildings will have green roofs that will decrease the heat island effect caused by the absorption and retention of heat by city building roofs and asphalt. Wood used in construction will be sustainably harvested. Most building materials will have recycled content. Highly efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), proper insulation, and building orientation will cut energy usage by around 30% compared with a similar, conventionally-developed neighborhood. Air conditioners will use environmentally friendly gases. Sophisticated air filters and paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will ensure improved indoor air quality for building occupants. Daylight views are integrated into building design to maximize productivity and reduce the use of artificial lighting. State-of-the-art water conserving fittings and fixtures will decrease water consumption by around 40%. The introduction of waste segregation at source will divert approximately 70% of generated waste from landfills.

District S cannot fight climate change alone, but it can contribute to protecting Beirut’s heritage and environment, hoping that many others will follow and undertake similar initiatives to preserve the environment (or what’s left of it.)

Nader Al-Nakib, is Co-founder, G Lebanon.

As some Israeli cities show, all that glitters is not green – Haaretz

Some green cities make it on to the good list because of their parks, but their residents’ high standard of living means they consume a great deal of resources.
By Zafrir Rinat | Aug.03, 2012

Europe did it this summer, and so did Israel.

But just because cities are regularly ranked based on how environmentally friendly they are, that doesn’t mean the chosen cities are always quite as green as they may seem.

Environmental experts say that while some of these cities make it on to the good list because of their parks and public transportation, their residents’ high standard of living means they continue to exploit and consume a great deal of resources and create a lot of waste.

The top three picks in a June ranking of sustainable cities in Israel were Tel Aviv, Kfar Sava and Jerusalem.

The rankings are based on 10 standards, including fostering open spaces, reducing waste and having environmentally friendly and accessible transportation. The index was compiled by the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership and Life and Environment, an umbrella group representing more than 100 Israeli environmental groups.

But while Tel Aviv led the list thanks to its parks and bike lanes, the city does not do well on recycling. Kfar Sava earned points for its recycling as well as its support for energy-efficient buildings, but its residents say the city is not keeping them informed about environmental issues and has not protected its old-growth trees.

And though Jerusalem is building more parks, has a light-rail system and is planning to implement ambitious proposals to reduce air pollution, in recent years the capital has been moving most of its garbage to an old, polluting landfill in Abu Dis. In addition, the environmental group Tzalul has ranked Jerusalem the second-worst city when it comes to damaging water sources, saying its continued channeling of untreated waste into the Kidron Valley is damaging the unique desert landscapes east of the city.

In Oregon, the city considered one of America’s greenest is Portland, 8 percent of whose energy comes from renewable sources. But in a recent article in the scientific journal PLOS Biology, a group of experts wrote that while Portland is indeed a pleasant place to live, with its parks, bike routes, organic markets and recycling, the city is utterly dependent on nature’s resources.

“Each year the Portland metropolitan area consumes at least 1.25 billion liters of gasoline, 28.8 billion megajoules of natural gas, 31.1 billion megajoules of electricity, 136 billion liters of water, and 0.5 million tons of food, and the city releases 8.5 million tons of carbon as CO2, 99 billion liters of liquid sewage, and 1 million tons of solid waste into the environment,” the article states. “Total domestic and international trade amounts to 24 million tonnes of materials annually. With respect to these flows, Portland is not conspicuously green.”

European environmental agencies also note the broader implications of urban lifestyles. According to some estimates, the ecological footprint of London, for example, affects an area 300 times as large as the city itself.

Some of the world’s cities are trying to take a different direction and go for reduced consumption.

One of these is Frankfurt, which has reduced the overall amount of garbage its residents generate and has prohibited the use of wood coming from tropical species of trees.

Copenhagen, the recently announced winner of the competition for European Green Capital of 2014, is also heading in that direction by recycling 90 percent of its construction materials, thus reducing its dependence on newly produced materials that take more resources from nature.

In addition, Copenhagen incinerates most of its trash and the energy produced in that process is used to heat homes. The city has also begun using home water-use gauges (also in use in Israel ) that have led to a water-use decline of 25 percent.

The Danish capital beat out the German and British entries, Frankfurt and Bristol, largely because of the significant rise of bicyclists in Copenhagen as a result of urban planning decisions intended to reach that goal.

One-third of the city’s 2 million residents now bike to work or school, and Copenhagen plans to raise that proportion to a full half the population within four years. The city has also built several new parks as part of its goal to have every resident living within a 15-minute walk of a park or beach.


ARZ Green Building Rating System – Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia

Samir Traboulsi

The ARZ Building Rating System is the first Lebanese green building initiative of international standard with its certification process being administered by the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC). It has been established to support the growth and adoption of sustainable building practices in Lebanon, with a specific focus on the environmental assessment and rating system for commercial buildings. For each credit, the ARZ Green Building Rating System identifies the detailed intent, requirement, technologies or strategies to achieve the credit.
Unlike other international rating systems, the ARZ Green Building Rating System was developed by Lebanese expertise of LGBC in partnership with the International Finance Corporation, (IFC), a member of the World Bank group.
The dramatic continuous electricity shortages, energy prices, and unavailability of other resources like water, prompted the development of the ARZ Building Rating System. Its aim is to maximize the operational efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. It is a certification on the existing building operational performance. Property owners and managers will drive their operational cost down while increasing occupant productivity in an environmentally friendly manner.
Just before the launching of the Rating tool event in June 2011, the Lebanon Green Building Council provided an extensive number of training hours, and candidates who completed the credentials were certified. Assessors are experienced building industry practitioners who have demonstrated their knowledge of the ARZ rating system certification process.
The Order of Engineers in Beirut was the first registrant requesting the ARZ BRS assessment of its headquarters. Two other reputable building owners are now processing and preparing for the delivery of the documentation requirements to initiate the assessment task. Building owners are convinced that certified and rated buildings will attract higher occupancy rates, higher rents, and an increase in buildings’ values. Using this tool enables building teams to focus on sustainability, gives them options when considering capital improvements or implementation of best practices, and allows them to benchmark and rate the benefits of various building attributes and procedures.
The rating process will provide an automatically generated report that can help to evaluate opportunities to benefit from energy savings, reduced environmental impacts, integrated corporate goals and practices, and lower costs for maintenance.
Certified assessors are asked to sign the ARZ BRS Code of Ethics and are requested to adhere to its contents with no allowance for any conflict of interest, whether apparent or not. Owners on the other hand are entitled to file an appeal if certain credits are denied, and ARZ BRS will be responsible to resolve such claims within a defined period.
A board of Trustees formed from key stakeholders in the Building industry in Lebanon will monitor and supervise the operation and performance of the ARZ BRS unit.
Benefits expected from the certifications range from getting solid data that supports the productivity assertions, energy cost and environmental footprint, and to establish baseline data on present energy and water consumption in all buildings in Lebanon. Owners will have open windows for exploring low interest financing and for exploring grants funding and accessing available incentives as provided by the Lebanese banks.

Dr. Samir Traboulsi is President, Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC)