News / Middle East

    UN Constructing Green Schools in Gaza

    Self-sufficient buildings will be environmentally sustainable

    The UN will build 20 environmentally-friendly schools in Gaza, combining traditional Middle Eastern design principles with modern technology.
    The UN will build 20 environmentally-friendly schools in Gaza, combining traditional Middle Eastern design principles with modern technology.

    The United Nations relief agency in the Gaza Strip is planning to build 20 “green” schools in the Palestinian territory. The head architect on the project says the self-sufficient buildings will be environmentally sustainable, while providing dignity for refugee students.  

    The project's organizers outlined their plans recently in Durban, South Africa.

    Overlooked

    The Palestinian territories are often left out of the discussion on climate change. According to the International Energy Agency, the territories rank 137th on the list of the world's carbon dioxide emitters - polluting slightly less than Iceland and slightly more than Madagascar.

    But, after years of conflict, the area has significant development needs.

    High ceilings in the green school are designed to move hot air up and away from the students below.
    High ceilings in the green school are designed to move hot air up and away from the students below.

    “We have about 240 schools," says Robert Stryk, program support coordinator of UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency working in the Gaza Strip. "These 240 schools, they provide education for about 230,000 children and we have about 40,000 children which are on waiting lists because, basically, we can't care for them.”

    To tackle the problem, UNRWA is building the 20 green schools - using low-cost, environmentally-sustainable technology - which will pollute less and conserve more.

    Ideal testing ground

    The buildings can provide for 800 students each and cost about $2 million.

    The architect behind the project, Mario Cucinella, says the difficult living conditions in Gaza make it an ideal testing ground for sustainable projects.

    “I think the challenge in Gaza, which is one of the most extreme areas in the world, it's very difficult," he says. "It's like a window on a future disaster. Everybody talks about what will be the future: too many people, an explosion of demographic problems, difficulty to access natural resources, difficult to get energy, difficult to get water, so everything is already in Gaza.”

    Trees on the roof of the green school help control temperatures inside. (Courtesy Mario Cucinella Architects)

    In a place where 90 percent of the available drinking water is not safe to drink, the schools will catch rainwater which is purified through a system of sand and planted tree roots.

    Where summer temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius, the buildings will sit on what Cucinella calls an “air lake,” which is a bed of gravel that allows the cooler air from the ground to circulate. And the classrooms will be built with high ceilings which let the hot air move up and away.

    The broad columns that support the structure are filled with excavated earth, another low-tech device for controlling temperatures.

    Combining old with the new

    Cucinella says the design combines new technology with basic construction elements that have long been used in the Middle East.

    “I like to think the school that we designed is, in one way, a look at the past as a reference - so, how people were able to deal with climate conditions for centuries without any electricity - and a look at the future, because we are able to use some really high-tech, specific technology to run the building better than before,” said Cucinella.

    UNRWA says the first school will be completed in the next 12 months, but that more financing and technical expertise are needed to complete the full project.

    The green building plans are part of UNRWA's broader reconstruction projects to help rebuild, following the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza that killed some 1,400 Palestinians nearly four years ago.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora