The next stop on my whirlwind tour of all that is green and eco in Jordan is the Green Building Council. And perfect timing too. It was recently announced that the UN office in Amman, Jordan, is set to be the first green building to receive a Gold LEED Certification V2.2 in the entire region. I got in touch with Safa’ Al Jayoussi who is the outreach officer at the Jordan Green Building Council to find out more. Safa’ also volunteers with IndyACT, Greenpeace Jordan and has supported various 350.org campaigns and green initiatives in Jordan.
A Duty To Help The Wider Community
Graduating with a degree in water management and environment, Safa’ admits that she felt it was her duty to help alter attitudes around environmental issues. For two years she worked with an environmental initiative called Don’t Mess with Nature dedicated to promoting sustainable management of natural resources in Jordan. “I had the chance to work with local communities all around Jordan; youths, kids, government and the private sector,” Safa’ remarks. “The environmental movement in Jordan is still very young compared to other countries, but the enthusiasm of the activist in Jordan is tackling the lack of public awareness.”
Established in 2009, the Jordan Green Building Council’s mission is to introduce, promote and advocate “appropriate green building concepts and practices in the Jordanian building and construction sector.” As well as awareness-raising, they run workshops and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) training courses across Jordan and beyond. The council is also part of a global network of more than 80 Green Building Councils.
Green Buildings and Green Energy
Environmental issues such as water and renewable energy are intertwined with buildings. Clearly for a building to be truly green, it needs to help conserve water and use renewable resources of energy. And Safa’ has strong views on these issues. As part of her work with Greenpeace Jordan, she has been campaigning against the country’s plans to go nuclear. “There are huge opportunities in Jordan to invest in renewable clean energy, we don’t want a second Fukushima to prove that this project is wrong,” she explains.
“Nuclear power plants are unsafe and slight incidents can cause huge irreversible damages that Jordan can’t handle. Plus Jordan has water scarcity issues and cooling the plant will be impossible.” Water scarcity is indeed a huge issue in Jordan which is considered to be the fourth most water poor nation in the world. Fluctuations in precipitation due to climate change will also have a direct impact on the daily life of Jordanians.
Caring for Water and Conservation
As such, Safa’ states that citizens need to have a better understanding of where their water comes from and different conservation strategies that can help save water. To do this successfully all sectors of Jordanian society – the young, the old, the rich and poor – need to be engaged. “A good example of this [a wide reaching campaign] is the Bergish forest campaign. The local community, government departments, parliament members, NGOs, activist and journalist were all working together and helped make this campaign successful and save forest trees,” says Safa’.
Future Climate Summit in Arab Region
With the next major climate summit being hosted in Qatar this December, Safa’ states that now is the time for the Arab region to make a bold statement around the environment. Finally, I ask if she is optimistic about the green movement’s ability to deal with environmental problems effectively. “I am very optimistic,” she replies, “every day individuals or groups are taking steps towards a greener Jordan.”
: Images via Safa’ Al Jayoussi.
For more on environmental issues in Jordan see: