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Green construction is the new standard in Israel

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using environmentally-responsible and resource-efficient processes throughout the life-cycle of a building, from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.

Then-Israeli minister of interior, Aryeh Deri, announced his decision to bring green building standards in line with global norms and create compulsory legislation for all construction projects in Israel. This standard took effect in March 2021 and will become obligatory in Israel beginning in March 2022.

That means each and every new structure built from a new project henceforth will have to be constructed according to the new green building standards.

The idea of green building standards isn’t new or exclusive to Israel. Ideas like this have been adopted by many countries worldwide. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and optimize energy consumption and the use of resources while creating healthy living environments for future generations.

CO2 Emissions from the Building Sector

According to the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction by Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), energy-related CO2 emissions increased substantially in 2019.

The increase was caused by the continuing shift away from direct use of coal, oil, and traditional biomass towards electricity, which produces higher carbon content due to the high percentage of fossil fuels used in generation.

The sector also accounted for 38% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions when the building construction industry was added on top of operational emissions.

To combat the global climate crisis, the Israeli government announced last July 2021 its plan to reduce carbon emissions by at least 85% by 2050. This pronouncement was in coordination with the Paris Agreement and Israel’s international commitments to limit the global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Green Building Standards in Israel

Most people know that green building standards are important, but they might not know exactly why. Green building standards set minimum requirements for a variety of elements of green building, including design, construction materials, and heating and cooling systems. Israel has three main Green Building Standards: SI 5281: Sustainable Building, SI 5282: Energy Rating of Buildings, and SI 1045: Thermal Insulation of Buildings.

SI 5281: Sustainable Building

The Sustainability Green Building offers a definition of green building that explains the required minimum standard of efficiency of a building to be declared as a green building under the Standards Institution of Israel.

The nine areas addressed in SI 5281 are:

  • Energy

  • Land

  • Water

  • Waste

  • Health and well-being

  • Environmental management

  • Transportation

  • Materials

  • Innovation

The standard is applicable to both new buildings and existing buildings that go through renovation.

In order to be considered ‘green,’ a building must meet the minimum requirements in each category, as well as follow additional preconditions addressing how it can minimize its environmental footprints. The standard has five levels which range from one to five quality stars.

The certification and rating system is applied in line with international standards such as the British BREEAM, American LEED, and the Australian Green Star.

With the minimum standard set by the Israeli government for a Sustainable Building, industries and companies are required to apply and implement a corporate sustainability framework.

There are companies and platforms that provide guidance in managing sustainability programs and becoming greener, such as that of the Green Business Certification provided by the Green Business Bureau. Their GBB Business Certification Guide benefits its members because of its practical guidance in increasing the business’s green credibility.

SI 5282: Energy Rating of Buildings

The Israeli Standard SI 5282 is a prerequisite for the SI 5281 certification. It specifies criteria for rating both residential and office buildings according to their energy consumption. This is related not only to construction but also lighting in each location, as well as climate factors like how hot or cold an area has been built into consideration when designing these areas accordingly.

Israeli Standard SI 5282 requires that the energy rating of most building designs should reach at least level C, which guarantees significant savings when compared to non-green buildings. The reduction in consumption for heating, cooling and lighting can be achieved via insulation or window size/type, among other things.

SI 1045: Thermal Insulation of Buildings

Israel’s Standard SI 1045 provides the minimum requirements for thermal insulation of buildings that are used to host overnight stays, such as residential homes, nursing homes, dormitories, guest houses, and prisons.

These standards ensure that the temperature inside these facilities remains reasonable, so less energy will have been consumed during heating and cooling cycles.

According to the Planning and Building Regulations (Application for Permit, Terms, and Fees), 1970 (Section 5.39), compliance to SI 1045 is a mandatory prerequisite for green construction.

 A building is thoroughly assessed from the design stages to compliance reviews for SI 5281 certification, which are conducted by authorized laboratories.

Building Green, Building the Future

Israel’s green building standards are meant to preserve resources in the long term. This strategy can also improve the economy, help the environment, and save people money on their energy bills while supporting healthier living.

Buildings are undoubtedly the heart of our cities. Creating greener buildings not only makes them more attractive but also increases the well-being of workers and residents living in these spaces, which will have a positive impact on society as a whole.

Building green is not just about being friendly to the earth, it is also about conservation of natural resources for future generations.

About the Author
Bernard Brode is a nanotechnology product researcher and believes that it might end up being the biggest tech story of all time.
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