311_IBM Haifa building.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The country’s green building code, which has lagged behind international
standards, will be brought up to speed during the course of a revision process
that will last until March, the Standards Institution of Israel announced
Standard 5281 is a voluntary building code for constructing
resource efficient buildings that emit less greenhouse gases.
The end of the traditional light bulb
international standards like the American Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) or the British Building Research Establishment Environmental
Assessment Method (BREEAM), 5281 is limited in scope and more lenient in its
However, as per the direction of Environmental Protection
Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) the five-year old standard will be brought up to
British company British Research Establishment, which wrote the
BREEAM standard, has been contracted as consultants to the process. They are
already hard at work on their analysis and are expected to offer their initial
insights in the coming days. They will be meeting with Israeli experts in
December to hammer out the changes.
Buildings are massive users of
resources and emitters of greenhouse gases. A third of greenhouse gases are
emitted from buildings – primarily offices. Worldwide, 30 to 40 percent of
energy is used by buildings as well as 17% of fresh water, 25% of wood harvests
and 40-50% of raw materials.
A green building can reduce those amounts by
anywhere from a half to a third.
There are green building standards in
over 20 countries around the world.
Experts have likened green building
standards to the nutritional information on the side of a box of food or the
energy efficiency listings on appliances.
The standard and the process
show exactly how a building uses its resources.
footprint per person is akin to that of the United Kingdom, so green buildings
make sense in the Israeli context as well.
Green building standards take
into account everything from the direction of sunlight on the building, to bike
rooms and showers, to sophisticated control systems for heating, air
conditioning and lighting.
Renewable sources of energy like solar panels
and wind turbines are also included. The LEED and BREEAM systems provide highly
detailed checklists that contractors must meet in construction. Green building
also takes into account the full lifecycle of the building – from its
construction to its destruction.
LEED is updated every two years, but
5281 hasn’t been updated since its inception in 2005. One of the major issues
that will be addressed in the update process is how to make the green standard,
or at least parts of it, mandatory for all buildings. The direction now is to
make at least some aspects mandatory even if the updated standard itself will
still be voluntary.
In England, for instance, all buildings must meet
basic green standards, but BREEAM is still a voluntary accreditation
The updated standard will apply to many more types of buildings
than just residential and office buildings. It will include schools, community
centers, hotels, hospitals and more. Accreditation courses will also be offered
to architects and contractors, the Standards Institution said.
businesswoman Shari Arison’s Shikun & Binui has pledged to build all of its
new buildings according to Standard 5281.
So far, few green buildings
have been built in Israel. Intel’s new building in Haifa is a certified LEED
Gold building – as well as 5281 – and another office tower in Tel Aviv is set to
break ground next year. In general, the construction industry is very
conservative and change is not easy to inculcate. Nevertheless, green building
is expected to pick up in Israel much as it has in other Western countries.
Despite public perception that green building is much more expensive, it is only
2-5% more expensive than a regular building and will save a lot more money in
the long-run because of its efficiency, experts contend.
committee is headed by Environmental Protection Ministry director-general Yossi
Inbar and includes representatives from the Interior and Construction and
Housing Ministries, the Standards Institution of Israel and the Israel Green
Building Council. The NIS 2.5 million cost of the update process is being funded
by the Environmental Protection Ministry.