It is a long-standing green building fact that some of the sector’s greatest innovations come from historic industries.
Classical Greeks and Romans patented the first ever solar orientation models, and ancient Syrians developed what is arguably the world’s first naturally climate controlled dwelling.
We know enough now to understand that in order to live effectively off-grid, or to reduce or remove our reliance on carbon-emitting electricity generators, it is important to look back to those who survived centuries without them.
This notion is being pushed by the Arab industry sector, according to Israeli News providers. In their coverage of a building methods conference in the northern Israeli district of Sakhnin, traditional means and modernity are being brought together to redevelop long-term, sustainable building solutions.
Hosting the conference, the Towns Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ) Agan Beit Natufan is the first ever organisation in Israel to promote environmental initiatives. It stands as a ‘place where Arab and Jewish Israelis collaborate on many initiatives designed to protect the environment they share’ according to the company. The TAEQ has been behind the push to promote more traditional means of sustainable building.
“The Arab sector today is less prone to use the traditional methods used by our fathers, but our objective is to restore those methods,” says Dr. Husein Tarbiye of the TAEQ, Agan Beit Natufa. “It appears that every element in traditional Arab building has a purpose, but today it is more difficult to find buildings that incorporate these methods, since most engineers are looking ahead to implement modern building methods.”
Tarbiye points out the practices of old that have provided buildings with natural climate control without the need for high carbon-emitting energy generators.
“Our fathers were right,” says Tarbiye. “Just look at the old mosques and palaces without electricity. They are still very tempered.”
There are a number of traditional Arabic building features that the organisation has cited. These include the use of fanning chimneys, which allow for the release of hot air from buildings and, when watered down, act as a natural air conditioner. The conference also referenced the Arabic architectural dome implemented in traditional buildings which, in association with high windows, can stabilise interior room temperatures.
It is the age-old adage of looking back and moving forward that is offering to lay the foundations for highly sustainable green building practices. It is a simple concept – something that is often seen as too simple by many industries, but one that offers results for very little output of money or efforts.