(photo credit: COURTESY OF THE GREEN KNESSET PROJECT)
Plastic water bottles will no longer be available at Knesset committee meetings and forums, the legislature’s director-general determined on Tuesday.
A day earlier, two electric vehicle charging spots were installed in the legislature’s parking lot.
These initiatives are part of the larger Green Knesset transformative plan, which kicked off on January 1 under the leadership of the Knesset’s director-general Ronen Plott, and Speaker Yuli Edelstein. A multi-year program to transform the legislature into a House that runs on energy-saving principles, the project includes the chargers, covering the building’s roof in solar panels and revamping the water, air conditioning and lighting systems.
The chargers are suited for variety of electric vehicles on the market.
Signs directing drivers to the spaces will soon be placed at the Knesset parking lot entrance. If necessary, additional charging spots will be installed.
“The Knesset has placed the subject of the environment at the top of its priorities, under the framework of the Green Knesset project, and charging points for electric cars must be part of this process,” Plott said. “There are electric cars arriving to the Knesset and it is important to allow for charging services.
In addition, the Knesset will consider in the future offering the option of electric or hybrid cars as part of its leasing service to MKs and Knesset employees.”
To use the chargers, drivers must enter a phone number that has been authorized for fueling. For now, the charging is free to all registered guests and Knesset employees, but in the future the Knesset will likely cover the cost only for its workers and require payment from visitors, explained Dr. Samuel Chayen, the spokesman for the Green Knesset project.
Despite the decrease in electric car use in Israel due to the collapse of the Better Place company, Chayen told The Jerusalem Post that he saw at least one car connected to the chargers on Monday.
Knesset administrators will soon explore the idea of increasing the number of hybrid cars used by its MKs, Chayen added.
“The Knesset is thinking seriously about checking the possibilities of hybrid cars for the next tender,” he said. “A very preliminary check shows that it may be even more economical compared with a normal car. The issue will be looked into and when we come up with results we will decide what to do with it.”
The tender for Knesset members’ leased cars runs for three years, after which the legislature can either renew the contract or sign a new one, Chayen explained. The next tender cycle will begin in about a year and a half.
MKs Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Stav Shaffir (Labor) are already using hybrid cars.
On Tuesday morning, Plott approved the recommendation to reduce the number of plastic bottles of mineral water distributed to participants in committee discussions, Chayen told The Jerusalem Post. Instead, glass pitchers filled with water will be made available to the Knesset members and participating guests, he explained. This initiative will eliminate nearly 60,000 plastic bottles each year, savings NIS 500,000, he said.
Very soon, the Knesset will begin enforcing the Bottle Deposit Law within its bounds. With the roughly 155,000 plastic bottles that circulate through Knesset cafeterias, offices and machines annually, the savings could add up to NIS 50,000 a year, Chayen said.
During the first Green Knesset training program for building employees two weeks ago, Plott told the workers that from now on, they would no longer get plastic drinking cups. Instead, every worker would receive a multi-use glass.
The Green Knesset project has thus far held six mandatory training sessions for all of the building’s employees.