In time, students living in Gaza Strip will no longer be vulnerable to the politics du jour.
In an unprecedented move, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has unveiled plans to build as many as 20 zero-emissions schools throughout the Gaza Strip, which will rely entirely on renewables for their energy supply. The agency has teamed up with architect Mario Cucinella to apply the most cutting edge sustainable innovations to the schools that will be completely self-sustaining. Plans for the Gaza schools are currently being displayed at the COP 17 conference in Durban and will render education in the Gaza Strip significantly less vulnerable to the politics du jour. Find out how after the jump.
In the Gaza Strip, energy and water are often used to motivate a particular political agenda, leaving hundreds of Palestinians without a reliable supply. This is set to change dramatically – at least for schools. (See images of the stunning water murals of Gaza.)
The design calls for a standalone building that will be constructed out of locally-sourced materials. It will be powered using solar energy, and cooling and heating will come from the ground. Excellent thermal massing will ensure that the building stays cool during hot summers, to facilitate a comfortable learning environment for 800 students.
Rainwater will be harvested and recycled so that no clean water will be used for cleaning, irrigation, or plumbing.
The first zero-emissions school will cost $2 million, which is no more than UNRWA usually spends on an educational facility in the region. Funding will come from the Kuwait Fund (via the Islamic Development Bank), although the agency has expressed need for further support.
Although the current focus remains on building schools in Gaza, UNRWA also operates in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, where it is hoped 1/2 a million refugees will eventually have access to a bright green education!