Green hi-rise to hit Tel Aviv

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
July 26, 2010 03:23

First phase of 20-story Azouri Ecotower to be ready by January.




THE ARCHITECT’S vision of the Azouri Ecotower on Hamasger Street.

ecotower 311. (photo credit: Azouri Towers)

The first phase of Tel Aviv’s first green hi-rise will be completed by January, its developer said on Sunday.

The 20-story Azouri Ecotower, being built by the Azouri brothers, Ronen and Alon, will be use less energy, maximize the use of natural sunlight and provide a healthy work atmosphere.

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“If we provided green leafy atriums for clients in the past, now we are focused on green buildings,” Ronen Azouri said at a Tel Aviv press conference. He described the project as an expression of the team’s values as much as a business endeavor.

The building will stand 20 stories tall, with the entrance on Hamasger Street. Sixteen thousand liters of water will be saved per day over a conventional building. Solar panels will be placed on the roof and the Azouris will check the feasibility of a wind turbine as part of the roof garden as well.

Air circulation was paramount, he said. Not only will fresh air circulate throughout the building, it will be filtered. Instead of one central air conditioning chiller, the building will have six separate ones to meet the need at any particular moment. Climate control will be monitored online in real time, according to Azouri.

Insulation is critical for reducing energy costs – too much heat lost or heat let in means the climate control systems must work harder. The building will use the latest in insulated glass – double silver sn 62, which allows in 62 percent of natural light. The average is about 50%, he said. It will also keep out 25% more heat from sunlight.

Botanical gardens will also be placed on the 5th and 20th floors, while recycling will be available in the building.

The developers are trying to use as much recycled material as possible in the construction.

Each type of building material is evaluated to get the maximum green potential, he said. Bicycle parking and showers will be available.

Phase A of the project – the ground floor and the first seven floors – has been completely sold out, according to Azouri.

John Bryce Technical College has signed a deal and a Mercedes showroom will occupy the ground floor. Phase A will be complete by January, he said.

The building will cost about NIS 200 million to build, but office space will go for NIS 85 per meter per month, which is average for the market in this area, Azouri said.

The local and district planning committees approved the project 10 days ago; hence the press conference.

The building will be a key factor in the re-imagining of Hamasger Street, the project’s architect, Keren Yedvub, said.

“There comes a time in every city’s life where it stops growing out and starts re-planning internal elements. The last time Tel Aviv had a master plan was 1927, but the municipality has spent the past two years working on a vision. Part of the vision will generate the TA/5000 plan,” Yedvub said.

With the construction of the Tel Aviv light rail’s Red Line, scheduled for completion in 2016, Hamasger is expected to become the center of a new built-up business area. Much more office space is planned for the next 15 years, she said, pointing to a computer-generated graphic that showed a slew of hi-rises looming over the Red Line.

Turning to the building itself, Yedvub said that the planning was particularly challenging because there aren’t any other buildings next to the project site right now.

“We needed to plan for future trends and take into account how other buildings would affect ours,” she said.

“The building’s sides will all be different because of the different directions of sun and wind,” she added.

Azouri Brothers brought in veteran UK green consultant Guy Battle to provide his expertise to the project. Battle, a mechanical engineer, started the dcarbon8 carbon and sustainability consultancy, which was taken over by the Deloitte business advisory firm five months ago, and has spent 20 years designing green buildings.

Battle described increasing demand for green buildings.

“I’ve titled my presentation, ‘Sustainability goes Mainstream,’ because the world is moving towards a low carbon economy.

A green economy. Companies want property to reflect their corporate values,” he said.

“They’re branding themselves as green. For instance, more and more companies are producing corporate sustainability reports.”

Israel’s building codes are several years behind England’s, Battle said.

“The basic building regulations in England are equivalent to LEED-certified. And there’s new legislation just passed in England implementing a requirement to report how energy efficient buildings are,” he said.

LEED is the US green-building standard. Azouri Ecotower will most likely achieve a silver or gold standard, Battle predicted.

He also remarked that Israel’s green building standard was rather primitive in its requirements compared to the US LEED or the UK BRIEEM.

“What’s fundamental about green building is not the energy or carbon savings, though that’s important. It’s making the link between environment, the quality of place and the people,” he declared. Studies have shown that people in green buildings are more efficient and more productive, he said.

While Azouri Ecotower would not be the greenest building in the world, “for Israel it delivers enormous benefit. It is also harder to deliver a green building that’s a tower. It’s important to remember that the green-building revolution will come in stages. This is a good first stage for Israel. A 25-30% energy reduction is a great start,” he said.

Israel faces particular challenges to implementing green building, according to Battle.

“The legislation is behind.

The Israel Green Building Council is looking at a LEED for Israel in 18 months to two years.

That’s too long.

“There are also planning barriers; people don’t understand grey water recycling so they don’t allow it. There are design issues as well. Buildings should be designed by an integrated team of architects, engineers, analysts and construction teams.

Most places in Israel, the teams are still not integrated. This team is an exception,” Battle said.

Education and knowledge and cultivating market expectations were also necessary if Israel were to move ahead in this arena.

“One good thing about coming late to the game is that you can look around and take the best of what’s out there already and leapfrog over several stages,” he said.

Turning to the future of buildings, Battle likened them to living things.

“Buildings should resemble trees. A tree cleans the air, provides food, and becomes compost when its leaves die. It produces more energy than it needs,” he said.

Battle said he was working on a project in Australia that would reduce energy costs by 80%, be carbon positive – meaning it would suck carbon out of the atmosphere instead of adding more – and water-positive by diverting a sewer underneath the property. The water would be cleaned on the premises and sold as clean water, he said.


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