One of the most important things we need to do to tackle climate change is reduce the amount of energy we use. One way to do this is ensure buildings are better regulated so we don’t have to spend lots of money and energy either heating or cooling our homes and offices. However, this doesn’t mean we have to jump on the latest energy-efficiency technologies.
As an award-winning traditional Arabic building in the Lower Galilee shows (which we featured in our 2009 video), ancient building techniques can work just as well. Designed by Abed el-Rahman Yasin, a student of Hassan Fathy, the green building which is located in Sakhnin features 20 different energy saving features ranging from patios to cool the air, water features and mashrabiyas.
The building which was constructed using local materials is now used as an educational centre for green building technologies.
The building uses particularly efficient thermal insulation and low energy consumption. Indeed, soon after completion the building was awarded first prize in a competition on energy conservation in buildings by the Union of the Mediterranean. It also received a $130,000 grant to invest in a wind turbine and solar panels.
The use of traditional building designs had dwindled in recent times but there is an effort by some to ensure that useful techniques are not lost.
“The Arab sector today is less prone to use the traditional methods used by our fathers, but our objective is to restore those methods,” said Hussein Tarabeih (who we’ve featured in our video here), of the Town Association of Beit Natufa.
“Our fathers were right,” continues Tarbiye. “Just look at the old mosques and palaces without electricity. They are still very tempered.”
Some of the central features of Arab architecture include patios and water features which are really useful in regulating heat and cooling the building during long, hot, summer days.
Cooling towers which consist of tall windows in chimneys are also important and help circulate air a little bit like air conditioners do. And domes function in a similar way by allowing hot air to rise and keeping base temperatures lower.
For more on traditional green buildings see: