RIWAQ continues to take a leading role in finding solutions for the local, regional, and international environmental challenges that we face worldwide. To this end, we have turned to our historic buildings and historic centers, and they have proven once more to guide our methodologies and techniques for environmentally conscious, or green implementation. It is important to note that RIWAQ’s conservation process is sustainable in and of itself, as it nearly eliminates the pollution created by site preparation, major construction material production, and transportation. In addition, RIWAQ’s work on historic buildings is designed to take full advantage of its surrounding natural resources.
Living in the modern world has its own implications on architecture as much as on other trends of our lifestyle, which implies revisiting old techniques and fusing them with modern technologies to meet the current needs of the 21st century. This is where RIWAQ has become a pioneer in its green approach throughout Palestine. In the architecture field in particular, RIWAQ focuses on the causes of pollution that affect the micro and the macro climate. Pollution is recognized in different forms throughout the construction process and RIWAQ has identified and addressed the following:
· Urban Heat Island Effect
· Water Management
· Site Management
In order to minimize the Urban Heat Island Effect, we have set a rule of tiling 50% of the open spaces in the projects and planting or greening 50% of the open areas. We have started testing the green roofs and researching the appropriate plants to be used, so that we minimize paved surfaces and increase green and earth surfaces. Soon, it is to become a rule of thumb to convert tiled roofs to green roofs when possible. These green roofs are composed of substrate of thermal insulation, waterproofing membranes, water retaining materials, anti-rooting membrane and a 10-15 cm soil substrate to plant native and wild plants that requires little water and little maintenance.
As for water management; we have started separating grey water and diverging it to green areas after being filtered, hoping that it becomes an efficient model that can be copied by local residents. In addition rain water is managed onsite for irrigation and light indoor usage when possible. Our goal is to elaborate on plumbing details so that we separate the pipes and use recycled water for toilets by the end of 2015. We aim to minimize water runoff by specifying the choice of outdoor paving material so that it is permeable and allows water to infiltrate within the ground substrata directly and thus recharge the aquifer eventually.
Site Management issues are addressed by minimizing the amount of site waste and encouraging recycling and reusing materials in creative ways. RIWAQ is dedicated to a thoughtful choice of materials that contribute to a healthier environment. Incorporating production and transportation, we have tested the usage of rammed earth for new additions, which has proven to be successful.
As far as energy is concerned, because RIWAQ works primarily with vernacular architecture, buildings take full advantage of sunlight and ventilation by using the appropriate materials and openings. In this case, we are sure to marry spaces with practical function. In addition, whenever there is a need, we completely insulate buildings for efficiency and install double glazed windows to avoid air infiltration. Lighting is another complicated element that has its implications on energy usage. RIWAQ is in turn working on testing indirect light tubes to maximize the benefit of natural daylight and minimize the use of electricity throughout the day.