‘Ground Zero Mosque’ will be Green

 When the controversy subsides and construction begins, “Park 51,” otherwise known as the “Ground Zero Mosque,” will be LEED certified

Green mosques are sprouting up all over the world. We brought news of the first eco-mosque in Cambridge, but now in the midst of the chaos and controversy surrounding the Ground Zero Mosque, organizers have revealed that the community centre will also be the first green-certified mosque in the US. The mosque, which has been renamed ‘Park51’ to reflect its green credentials, will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, and in addition to building bridges between different communities, will spread the green message of Islam. Arwa spoke to Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who first broke the news of the project’s environmental aspirations, to find out more.

Affront to 9/11

The plans to build a mosque in lower Manhattan have been dogged by problems and opposition from the very start. Some state that it is an affront to 9/11 to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero whilst others, including President Obama, have shown support for the project and the need to demonstrate religious tolerance and harmony.

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who announced the green aspirations of the project, is a local Muslim environmental organizer. He told Green Prophet that “The only information I have is that the organizers are committed to ensuring that this building is built according to LEED standards…What I do know now is that there are few green houses of Worship in NYC or around the country – so this would be a very pioneering effort and a model for all people of faith.”

Stewards of the earth

Author of ‘Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet‘, Abdul-Matin was eager to point out the oft-overlooked connection of Islam and environmental concern. Islam calls upon its followers to act as ‘stewards of the Earth’, to care for it and protect it from harm. However, this is not very well known amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike, so the project creates an opportunity to spread that message and hopefully encourage better environmental awareness.

Abdul-Matin also pointed out that the mosque was more accurately described as community centre with a prayer space. “This is not just a mosque- it’s a community center. Think YMCA.” The new name ‘Park51’ is designed to remind people of this, as well as the fact that it will be green and open to the public.

LEEDing Islam

Even so, there is still little information available about what level of LEED certification the project aims to achieve. Abdul-Matin added: “Right now, they are trying to dodge all this negative media attention and ensure that no other barriers are put up to the building plans. As soon as all of the building issues are cleared and actual construction begins, I will have more information about the efforts they plan to take and will be happy to share at that time.”

One of the major flaws of the LEED-certification highlighted in Grist is that it fails to take into consideration the location of the building site. Naturally, a building centrally located and well-connected to public transport is greener than one which is located in sprawling, car-intensive regions. However, Manhattan is well-known for being a compact, well-connected city, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

Whatever people’s opinions are of the Ground Zero Mosque, the news that it will be green is surely an occasion for all those who care about the planet to celebrate.

First green Mosque image via Tawheed Manzoor and second image via Panoramas

For more on Eco-Mosques and Eco-Islam:

Organic and Islamic: Muslims showcase Ethical and Fair-trade Fashion
Inspired by Muhammad” Is Islam’s Green Message to Break Terrorism
Tips for a ‘Greener’ Muslim Wedding

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6 thoughts on “‘Ground Zero Mosque’ will be Green”

  1. Nick says:

    Happy to give anyone more information if they are looking for any, feel free to contact me [email protected]

  2. Nick says:

    I had to comment on Jon’s article from Grist as well, but site selection under the LEED Certification system is in fact one of the categories that LEED treats most fairly. The United States Green Building Council also re-weighted the entire point system in 2009 to adjust for discrepancies within their ratings system, giving Energy and Atmosphere more points but keeping the weighting of Site Selection fairly similar to what they had previously as the USGBC understands the significance of where a building is located on the larger picture of the carbon footprint of not just the building but its inhabitants.

    I do like this article, but I have to say that it is way off base with regard to LEED. The treatment of Site Selection within the LEED Certification is in fact one of its greatest strengths, not “one of the major flaws.” I am a LEED AP and have worked with green property for the entirety of my career (as a commercial broker as well as a green building, development and retrofitting consultant) tand while there is certainly much to gripe about with the LEED system, one of it’s strongest features is that it does value site selection well. I think most green practitioners would agree with me as well.

    I assume this building will built under the New Construction guidelines for LEED. It could fit into core and shell or commercial interiors as well, but I would expect NC to be what they go with. There are relatively equivalent points provided for site selection under these other guidelines for site selection, but here are some basics for New Construction. There are 110 points available to be garnered under the New Construction guidelines. There are 7 sub-sections and Site Selections (the points you are mentioning) is the 2nd largest category, only superseded by Energy & Atmosphere. In terms of the mosques location, it can receive a total of 12 Points (! -which is a HUGE portion of total points-) within the Site Selection category. 1 point for general site selection, 5 points for Development Density and Community Connectivity, and 6 points for Public Transportation Access. These are the max points for each of these sub-categories, but without any extra effort, this Mosque will inevitably get the full 12 points. This means that over 10% of the TOTAL possible points to be awarded under the New Construction guidelines are and can be awarded just for locating the property conveniently in terms of the items you mentioned in the above article so I have to argue that LEED actually treats this portion of the rating system incredibly well.

    Check out the checklist if you want to see more information on the systems and how the points are attributed: http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=220

    Nick Katz, LEED AP

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