Tel Aviv’s first green hi-rise launched

Tenants of EcoTower will save 70% on water bills, 20% on electricity; 3rd building to receive US LEED certificate for green construction.

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July 12, 2011 18:55
4 minute read.
Tel Aviv skyline

Tel Aviv skyline 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Sleekly designed with floor-to-ceiling windows and ample open space, Tel Aviv’s first green high-rise, the Azouri EcoTower, was officially inaugurated on Tuesday morning at a press conference, after which Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan planted a commemorative tree in the fifth floor outdoor botanical garden.

Slated to be 21 floors at its completion, the EcoTower currently has seven fully functioning floors and is only the third building in Israel to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate from the United States Building Council, those involved in the project explained.

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Among the features of the new building are recycled water, renewable energy, separation of waste, and an LED lighting system – “there is no waste,” according to Ronen Azouri, CEO Azouri Brothers. Building occupants will enjoy a 70 percent savings on their water bills and 20% on electricity, and can relax in 1,000 square meters of open space that include 19 roof terraces and the botanical garden, Azouri said.

The building inauguration comes only a day after the Environmental Protection Ministry and the Israel Standards Institute jointly launched the new Green Building Standard, which will provide clear regulations for reducing energy and resource consumption in seven different types of buildings.

“I am very, very proud that just a day after, we’ve come to this building, and although it is not yet in accordance with the Israeli Standard, I think that what’s happening here today really speaks to a trend, a trend that is perhaps, more or less, one of the most important trends since I became the environmental protection minister and that I am interested in progressing.”

A brief tour of the building revealed floor-to-ceiling windows on the fourth floor, which features a coffee lounge and an outdoor porch for drinking coffee, as well as classrooms where Matrix IT students enjoy air conditioning that automatically adjusts according to the hour of the day. Tenants of the current floors in addition to Matrix include John Bryce Training and Hamil – The Israel Management Center.



The building was greatly influenced by the work of Guy Battle, a British environmental engineer and specialist in sustainable design, who served as a green consultant on the project. Battle, who founded his carbon management firm dcarbon8 in 2006, and sold it to Deloitte in March 2010, has to his credit: the carbon management plan for Masdar – Zero Carbon City; Abu Dhabi International Airport; Endesa Headquarters, Madrid; Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Science; IT sustainability strategy for the upcoming London Olympic Games; advisory for Marks and Spencers; and the Big Blue in Marseille.

“It’s always struck me as something very strange that Israel hasn’t embraced green buildings,” Battle said, noting that the US and the UK are some 10-20 years ahead in terms of eco construction.

But he was proud that this building – whose concept originated in a conversation he and Azouri had four years before – has now come to fruition and was able to win the gold award from LEED. Meanwhile, buildings such as the EcoTower are not simply good for the environment, they also help businesses save significant amounts of money, according to Battle.

“Sustainability is not just about the planet – it’s good to save the planet of course,” he said. “It’s about reducing costs, it’s about growth of new markets, and ultimately it’s about shareholder and customer value.”

With lower energy and lower operational costs, the EcoTower’s asset values will simply last longer, Battle explained.

“I am sure that in another three years, Israel will have 200 buildings like this,” Erdan said.

Michal Bitterman, founder and executive committee member of the Israel Green Building Council, agreed with the minister’s sentiments and said this was definitely not an overestimation, as long as the various government bodies, NGOs and businesses continue to “raise the awareness of the public.

“We have good standards so people are behind it,” she told The Jerusalem Post after the conference.

Bitterman said that while she assumes that the Eco- Tower will eventually also get the Israeli Standard qualification, the LEED certificate is more than sufficient for now, especially since the Israeli version wasn’t available at the time of construction.

“I think this is an amazing project,” she said. “It is definitely a leading project in Israel. They have a clear vision – they put the right essence in it and they were really pioneers – they did it before other people did.”

The remaining floors should take about 13 months to complete and Azouri already has three different tenants negotiating for space there, as well as international firms trying to collaborate on future green projects, he told the Post.

“We wanted to do something logical with a wise way of looking at things, a new way of looking at things, but it’s one thing to plan and dream and want something and another when you occupy a whole office building and get wonderful feedback from your clients,” Azouri said.

“It’s beyond any expectations.”

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