When the Palestinian Museum opens its doors in the fall of 2014, visitors will be able to experience Palestine’s first energy-efficient green building. Striving for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating, the Palestinian Museum will work with the Palestine Green Building Council to assure that it implements and adheres to green building design guidelines set by LEED.
Engineer Badawi Qawasmi, a founding member of the Council, pointed out that the Museum’s building will be a model for environmental sustainability on the Palestinian level. “We will use the Museum’s building as an educational case-study to deliver training workshops to engineers, contractors, university students and other professionals,” he said.
Water and Energy
Water and energy consumption in the building will be reduced by 23% by using green solutions in design and constructions. According to Qawasmi, the Museum building’s orientation is such that it will be able to maintain adequate and comfortable temperatures in both summer and winter months. Green solutions include collecting rainwater from the rooftop of the building in large water containers for reuse. Solar energy will be used to heat water for public use, while wastewater will be refined and reused for irrigating the gardens based on an automatically controlled water system. Moreover, the gardens of the Museum will be planted with indigenous plants, which tend not to require large amounts of water.
A Healthy Environment
According to Qawasmi, “the Museum aims to create a healthy environment that is ideal for both visitors and staff by introducing methods and procedures to reduce the rates of toxic substances that exist in various types of paint, carpets and concrete, which vaporize in certain temperatures and affect breathing and therefore health.” The Museum also encourages staff and visitors to use bicycles to get to the building. Wheelchair accessibility has been integrated into the building’s design.
Implementing green building design guidelines in Palestine poses certain challenges. “The global environmental standards are additional requirements for Palestinian contractors and workers who are accustomed old ways of construction and site maintenance. The new specifications, in many cases, are not convincing or incomprehensible to contractors and construction workers,” said Qawasmi. The Palestine Green Building Council obliges contractors to operate in a limited area on the construction site to avoid environmental damage that might occur to the land surrounding the building during construction. Qawasmi noted that “the site will be surrounded with a special fence that prevents the erosion of soil from the construction area, thereby mitigating the environmental impact of the construction process on the adjacent area. A washing station for trucks will be created on site to reduce the transmission of dust and mud to the surrounding streets and neighborhoods.”
The Palestine Green Building Council is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to raise awareness and provide assistance to various institutions in the public and private sector to comply with the standards of the World Green Building Council.