School designs with a green future in mind for Gaza

Going Green in Gaza, the United Nations initiative to build environmentally friendly buildings in Gaza, reveals designs for the first of 20 zero-emissions schools in the works.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) unveiled plans for the first of 20 zero-emissions schools throughout the Gaza Strip. Designed by Mario Cucinella Architects, the school will support 800 students and use rainwater, geothermal, and solar systems instead of water and energy grids.

The inaugural school is designed around simple construction systems using affordable, locally available materials so that future buildings can be built by local refugee communities.

Major design elements include thermal mass columns filled with excavated soil from the construction site, a large central courtyard, and a traditional mashrabiya screen (a lattice like screen made of small wood pieces) for shading and ventilation. Rainwater will be harvested and recycled for sanitation and irrigation.

At a construction cost of two million dollars the sustainable project will cost no more than other UNRWA sponsored buildings in the region. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development is providing financial support for the project.

The UNRWA plans to build similar schools with the same techniques and zero-energy reliance in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Access to energy and clean water are often used in political power plays in the Gaza Strip, as well as other developing nations. The goal of the UN's architectural pilot project is to ensure equitable and direct access to water, investment in renewable energy, and an improved quality of life for Palestinians by building climate neutral buildings with self sustaining power.

The UNRWA hopes the school and the schools that follow are first steps towards a sustainable, carbon-free development of the Palestinian territory.

Via: Green Prophet
Images: courtesy of Mario Cucinella Architects

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com