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YEARBOOK: LEBANON Current States of Sustainability 2009 - 2010 Version: 12.08.10

Compiled by: J. Matthew Thomas, Visiting Assistant Professor in Architecture American University of Beirut Department of Architecture and Design

“Yearbook: Lebanon, Current States of Sustainability - 2009-2010� compiled by J. Matthew Thomas Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture: 2009-2010 American University of Beirut Beirut, Lebanon Dean: Ibrahim Hajj Director: Howayda El-Harithy Thanks to: The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture; Dr. Howayda Al-Harithy, Dr. Carole Levesque, Assistant Professor Carla Aramouny, Assistant Professor Rana Haddad, Assistant Professor Aram Yeretzian, Dr. Issam Srour, Lana Salman and Tara Mahfoud, Mr. Mohamad Tassi, Sara El Choufi and Sarine Karajerjian, Fadi Shayya and the professionals and activist working within the field of sustainability: Maya Karkour, Garabed Kazanjian, Rabih Shehayeb, Karim Moussawer, Kamal Mouzawak and Christine Codsi. Special thanks to Richard Spera and Adriana Young for their editing eye as well as to Dr. Haitham Khoury, for assistance with translations and editing. Photos by J. Mathew Thomas, unless noted otherwise. Students: Arch 040 Beyond Green: Sara Abu Saleh, Firas Abou Fakher, Nadine Al Harakeh, Massa Ammouri, Dima Atchan, Bassam Chahwan, Yasmina Chami, Dara Dajani Daoudi, Anthony El Khoury, Roula Gholmieh, Rana Haddad, Dana Hamdan, Ola Hariri, Dana Mazraani, Maissa Naim, Mohammad Abdullah Ramadan, Karine Yassine, Zeina Koreitem and Dina Mahmoud. Arch 509 Vertical Studio C; Firas Abou Fakher, Wassef Dabboucy, Rana Haddad, Raneem El Khachen, Yasmine El Majzoub, Ralph Antoine Gebara, Carl Gerges, Ghida Hashisho, Joanne Hayek, Siba Jaber, Rani Kamel, Zeina Koreitem, Jad Melki, Nada Nuwayhed, Sarine Sahakian, Rand Salah, Baraa Yakzan and Nathalie Saleh.

Copyright 2010

The American University of Beirut

All Rights Reserved. Department of Architecture and Design American University of Beirut Beirut, Lebanon

Ain Mreisseh, Beirut

Gefinor Center, Clemenceau Street, Hamra, Beirut.

Bechara Al Khoury Street, Bashoura, Beirut.

Harissa, view towards Jounieh bay.

YEARBOOK: LEBANON Current States of Sustainability 2009 - 2010

CONTENTS: 001 Introduction 012 Green in the Middle East 020 Interview: Aram Yeretzian 032 Interview: Maya Karkour 042 Interview: Dr. Issam Srour 047 Arch 509 Infrastructure Research

-Water -Waste -Transportation -Energy

090 Interview: Dr. Carole Levesque 095 MAJAL Competition 102 103 114 136

Arch 040 Beyond Green Photo essay I Arch 040 Beyond Green-Midterm Photo essay II

152 Interview: Garabed Kazanjian

162 170

Interview: Wassef Dabboucy Interview: Rabih Shehayeb

177 Classes (of Green)

-Sanayha Park

-Horsh Park -Soufi Park, -Maaser Cedar Reserve -The Corniche -American University of Beirut

194 Interview: Karim Moussawer 200 Interview: Kamal Mouzawak and

Christine Codsi


214 Interview: Lana Salman and Tara 222 Arch 040 Beyond Green-Finals 247 Existing Opportunities: Excess Capacity

257 Resources

INTRODUCTION As the global economy flounders, the small country of Lebanon perseveres. The history of Lebanon is relentless, rebuilding itself after countless wars and conflicts and provides a unique location to examine the issue of sustainability. One cannot imagine a place more resilient than Beirut. This compendium of student work, imagery and interviews with local practitioners was collected in the 2009-2010 academic year at the American University of Beirut. This collection of work does not set out to define sustainability in transitional terms, but seeks to ask, to look and to question what sustainability could be for a place like Beirut and for greater Lebanon. This inquiry suggests that instilled within the existing conditions of this struggling Mediterranean country, design tools and techniques can be explored and harnessed. These musings hope to suggest that defining sustainability for a city, a people, or a region must emerge out of that city and that culture. From this perspective comes the inquiry: What does sustainability look like for particular cities and how does the local context contribute to a larger understanding of sustainability in the developing world? For over the past decade the “Westernized world” has begun to change the status quo of building construction and city design largely through the green building movement. From building codes to checklists, developed nations have had the privilege to define, codify and professionalize the terms for ‘going green’. The successful policies taking form in the United States and most of Europe have evolved out of the context of their socio-economic and climatic conditions. Rather than subscribe to the green building schema of developed countries, can 01

“Sustainability is an all encompassing term primarily concerned with rethinking wasteful processes. Whether through technological innovations, design strategies, or rethinking certain processes and chains of production or consumption, it reshapes current cycles of resource based, abundant lifestyles. Architects can address this by questioning cycles which have been taken for granted: this can be a Physical Cycle, the act of construction for instance; a Social Cycle; user groups and the pressure of economic stratification; Virtual Cycles; the design process; or Economic Cycles; stakeholders, project participants, etc.�

- Firas Abou Fakher,

ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

communities in the developing world - places with their own distinct traditions of environmental stewardship beyond the parameters of the green movement create policy on their own terms that contribute to a global conversation on a localized form of sustainability? This book is a yearlong exploration of the current states of sustainability in Lebanon. Interviews with key community leaders working for sustainability in Lebanon shed light on the obstacles as well as the opportunities. Leading academics in the field provide support for these efforts and strongly maintain that education is the way forward. Political constraints are by far the leading problem identified across the board in addressing environmental concerns. The issues around top-down approaches and bottom-up strategies provoke the designer to look at both sides of the topic. But it’s the success stories, from the local business leaders to non-profit organizations with their unique tools for achieving environmental awareness, that can serve as examples and a glimmer of hope. Collecting these voices into one source will hopefully allow individuals, companies and practitioners to connect, communicate and collaborate toward a better form of sustainability. Cross-disciplinarian collaboration is a must when tackling a complex issue such as sustainability. In the fall and spring semesters of 2009 and 2010, an effort was made to collect documentation for a number of courses and events offered at AUB. In what may have seemed to be small separate occurrences within the school year, taken collectively show how the greater momentum the University and the surrounding 02

“Sustainability starts with a behavioral modification and a change of lifestyle that encourages self-sufficiency and the saving of natural resources. It is about raising the awareness within our community regarding issues and problems concerning the environment. Architects should think about how they can spread awareness to the users of their building in a subtle way vis a vis the issues of sustainability. The buildings and its users should have a give and take relationship, meaning that the building will react to the lifestyle of the user and the user will respond to the sustainable qualities the building is providing.”

- Roula Gholmieh, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

community have taken towards addressing sustainability, whether it be via issues of energy, construction, lifestyle or human rights. Several courses have been unpacked within this compendium to illustrate the new generation of architects exploring how design can create a more sustainable future. This past year AUB’s Department of Architecture made a clean sweep at the annual MAJAL Design Competition, a pan-University competition that seeks new solutions for a sustainable Lebanon. The students’ work operated outside of the typical confines of “technologies” and pleased the eyes of the jurors by addressing architecture, as much as the greater urban context. The Spring Vertical Studio C conducted a visual exploration of four major infrastructures as a component of their studio program, “An Alternative Guide to Beirut.” Their use of design to educate, inform and to make visible the existing states of water, waste, transport and energy helped to serve as creative fodder with designs that can filter, reduce, de-congest and recycle the polluting infrastructures of Beirut. The students of ARCH 040 present their findings as well, demonstrating the complexity of a single precious resource, that of water, and how design can be used not to eradicate an issue, but to educate, intervene and create new possible policies. Contemporary imagery from the streets and landscapes of Lebanon are included as visual breaks from the design work and commentary on the practice of sustainability. These “snap-shots” of the current state of affairs serve as explorations of the term ‘sustainability,’ rather than trying to define strict parameters for its meaning. These visuals ask the viewer to not limit a 03

“Sustainability is the ability of an entity to consume minimal resources, and throughout its operation maintain a balanced consumption/ production ratio. It should contribute positively to the context in which it exists. Architects




holisticly. Sustainability should be a factor in every single process of design and conceptual thinking, not just a set of restrictions applied on top of an otherwise independent project.” - Dina Mahmoud, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

‘green future’ on the expected domains of architecture, but to consider the opportunities that the greater urban environment holds. These images offer a moment-in-time, representing how the notion of environment is perceived and how it is being treated. The City offers glimpses of opportunities, strategies and techniques, that are necessarily approached from a top-down perspective, but perhaps contextualizing itself within an approach operating from the bottom-up. The country of Lebanon, whose culture hinges on both East and West, offers a unique opportunity to see how tradition and technology help form resiliency, and how destruction and rebirth can give small ideas a chance. Lebanon is a country that is continually being reborn without the luxury or confinement of regulation and pre-planned design strategies. Beirut is a city that has continually sustained itself while being politically divided, financially strapped and infrastructurally inept. It is a resilient city - a city that can define and deform sustainability for itself, and contribute to sustainable practices in the region and the rest of the developing and developed world. This manifestation of sustainability on its own terms does not emerge from a government enforced policy and will not appear as a massive new private development like an eco-city emerging from the desert. Instead, sustainability in Beirut is being continuously shaped by students, designers, organizations, and business, using local systems thinking and site-driven design. It is this Lebanon-specific configuration of sustainability - these new processes, strategies and repurposing of resources - which will incorporate themselves both into the existing infrastructure of the country and the habits of the people it hopes to sustain. 04

“Sustainability is being aware of what is available to us and to act responsibly in order to maintain it, develop it and endure it. For an architect, it is important to deepen this concept and include it in our way of thinking, and the way designs are imagined, in order to be able to affect other people tand therefore incorporate sustainability in their lives. Once established, sustainability acts as a cycle, therefore the generating point is the most important. Then, it is up to the users to sustain the relationship.� - Maissa Naim, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Preserved facade for new residential tower, Nasra, Beirut.


Planters, Minet Al Hosn Street, Ain Mreisse, Beirut.






of the built environment into the natural environment so that a ‘flow’ can be achieved between these two environments: the built environment integrates the natural resources of the planet into its metabolisms, and the natural environment integrates the built environment into its ecosystems.” - Anthony El Khoury, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Fakhreddine Street, Kantari, Beirut


Recycling containers, Minet Al Hosn Street, Ain Mreisse, Beirut.


Apartment building, Ain Mreisse, Beirut.


“Sustainability is about being aware that the resources around us are not limitless, and so it is a question of how to balance our needs versus nature’s needs. We can address the issue of sustainability by thinking about it in terms of relationships and metabolisms, seeking to find a balance and logic. We can start to think of lifestyles, and since we shape the environment in which lifestyles unfold, then we have a great responsibility in making sure the environment we design tries to achieve a balance.”

- Yasmina Chami,

ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

“Neighborhood of Cultural Character.” Al Nahr Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut.


Billboard in Minet al Hosn, Beirut, representing real estate values in the Middle East.


October 8, 2010: Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah publicly plants a tree in the southern suburb of Beirut. The event was a part of a larger campaign by Hizbullah to plant one million trees in Lebanon.


Ancient practices and localized forms of environmental treatment are not new concepts to the Middle East. Hima is Arabic for a “protected or forbidden place,� but has become better known as a reserve of land with stipulations on its use and cultivation. While muddled in issues of power and access, hima dates from pre-Islamic times, as cordoned off proprieties used as much for preservation of resources as a tribal device for oppression. The spread of Islam adopted the practice but curtailed it to represent a place that was for the benefit of the people: the modern day public reserve. The historic practice of hima is mired in the the same conflicts that modern environmental conservation and sustainability finds itself: political positioning, economic impacts and changing social/cultural perspectives. The current practice of hima can be found in different forms across the Middle East, from national parks to tribal protected grazing lands. *The research of Lutfallah Gari provides a brief history of the practice in the paper: Ecology in Muslim Heritage: A History of the Hima Conservation System.


Green Building in the Middle East

Children’s Discovery Center, Damascus, Syria Henning Larsen Architects, Martha Schwartz Partners and engineers Buro Happold


1. CertifiedProjectList.aspx 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

King Abudullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sabah Al Ahmed International Finance Centre, Kuwait

Designed by Zaha Hadid Aiming for LEED Platinum

KEO International Consultants Pre-certified to get Kuwait’s first LEED certification

World Trade Building, Behrain Atkins architectural firm The first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines into its design


Supporting Organizations


-Bahrain Green Building Council


LEED registered: certified:






-Saudi Green Building Council -Saudi Environmental Society


-Environmental Public Authority


-Lebanon Green Building Council


-Qatar Green Building Council -BARWA -Qatari Diar Research Institute (BQDRI) -Qatar Foundation

Abu Dhabi

-Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) -Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council


-Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) -Dubai Municipality

Local Rating System




Notable Projects -World Trade Building


-Badia Research and Development Centre (BRDC)


-The Saudi Green Buildings Forum -King Abudullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center -King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz University of Health Sciences, Research Buildings

-Sabah Al Ahmed International Finance Centre


Syria UAE

World Green Building Council Member 3


Palistine Qatar


BREEAM registered: certified:

-Sustainability Week

Associated Group

-Muscat Green Days Conference -Jebel Al Akhdar and Khasab Hotel, Muscat and Salalah Airport


-Al Quds University Green Building Conference

Prospective Member Founded: June 2008

-Qatar Vision 2030 Qatari -Energy City Sustainability -Education City Female Campus Assessment System (QSAS) with Certified Green 4 Professionals

Associated Group Established Group Founded: 2006

- Children’s Discovery Center, - New Youth Residential Complex

Estidama Programme 5

-Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision -Masdar City

Green Building Regulations – 3 Stages6

-Sustainable Tourism, aim to reduce hotel carbon 7 emissions by 20% by 2011 -Bawadi -LEED Platinum: TECOM Management Office Renovation and Pacific Controls HQ Building


LEED Registered Projects for Beirut, Lebanon Represents projects registered through the United States Green Building Council ( as of August 2010.

IC Elementary, Internatinoal College LEED for SCHOOLS v2009 Website:

Beirut Harbor, SEG LEED-CS v2009


Verdun Heights, MED Properties Management LEED-CS v2009 2684 sq. m plot 17 oors Website:

Irani Oxy Engineering Complex, American University of Beirut LEED-NC 2.2

Nabil Gholam Architects 108,000 sqft Website:

Sama Beirut, Antonios Projects SAL LEED-NC v2009

50 floors, 186 meters architect: Erga group - Elie and Randa Gebrayel Website:

Beirut Terraces, Town Tower sal & DIB Tower LEED-NC v2009 130 apartments, 300 - 500 m2 Architects: Herzog & de Meuron Website:

Beirut City Center, Suburban Development, S.A.L. UAE based Majid al Futtaim LEED-CS v2009

210,000 m² Consultant: Samir Khairallah & Partners Contractor(s): UCE USD 40 million

Badaro Gardens, FFA Real Estate. LEED-NC v2009 32 apartments from 275m2-670m2 2889m2 plot Architects: AAA Architectural firm Website:

BREEAM Registered Projects M1 Building, Mika Real Estate LEED-CS v2009 Website:

La Broceliande,Yarze Residences by Greenstone s.a.l. Design Team: Dagher, Hanna & Partners, EGN Consultants Cost: Estimated US$ 3 Million Mada, near Faqra. L’Armonial

Associated Consulting Engineers New HQ, ACE International LEED-NC v2009

residences by Greenstone s.a.l Abdel Wahab el Inglizi Street, Achrafieh. Architects: AAA Architects 20 floors, Total Built Area : 24000 m2, cost: $30 million

16 16

Signage at the new Beirut Souqs Mall, Weygand Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.






all possible means to minimize the use of nonrenewable energy to reduce our environmental problems. In architecture, sustainability




the local climate and customs while being respectful





sustainable design can sustain itself and �it-in in its environment instead of being an alien intruder.” - Dana Hamdan, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

A plan of “Cedars Island,” an artifical island being proposed off the coast of Lebanon by Noor International Holding.


Construction site, Agrippa Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


Aram Yeretzian Partner, Prime Design Beirut, Lebanon May 6, 2010

What is ‘sustainability’ for Lebanon? As I see it, sustainability in the developing world is in a very good position because we haven’t reached the ‘developed’ stage yet, and the opportunity still exists to integrate sustainability into the developing process. This is in contrast to Western and industrialized countries that are now going back to becoming sustainable. In Lebanon, our recent sustainable past could make sustainability in the future, more tangible. When describing the sustainability background in Lebanon, we can begin with the introduction of electricity to Beirut around 1912 -1914. At that time, the city was a very sustainable place, similar to many other cities into which electricity was first introduced. Beirut was a very good example of mix-use planning, proximity, and low energy methods of transport like the introduction of the tram that came with the French colonization in the early 1920’s. Electricity was produced in Quarantina, and because it was very close and Beirut was small, it was on a small scale and incurred reduced energy loss. First, came street lighting, then, in the early 60’s, movie theaters, and then homes followed, relying on electricity to run refrigerators and a couple of lights. It was an exemplary sustainable city. Even the relationship of the city extending beyond the old city walls, and the new boroughs that started to develop, for example Ashrafieh, presented, in terms of scale, dimension, and distance, a sustainable layout. The problem with sustainability started in the late 60’s and early 70’s with the introduction of air conditioning that is linked to the use of concrete in buildings. In the 30’s, the residential building typology started to transform by integrating concrete into the execution process. So instead of building individual houses, houses were “stacked” one above the other reaching three or four levels. You can still see the “yellow” (reference is made to the color of the finish) buildings around the city. Cement had that sustainable dimension because it was a locally produced material. This changed with the introduction of air conditioning and energy consumption starting to get very ‘loose’ with the use of ‘curtain walls’ that was introduced in the 60’s. (In that era, the car became the dominating method of transportation.). Therefore, instead of having window proportions, openings, and orientations that were confined and related to some kind of scale, the introduction of big glazing elements emerged and went out of control starting in the late 60’s and 70’s. Moreover, the civil war that started in the mid-70’s,


totally disrupted any understanding of sustainability for twenty years. Twenty years of total destruction, not only physical destruction, but the day-to-day needs that were far more serious (provision of food, commuting to work, and lack of regulation), consciously and unconsciously alienated any approach addressing environmental and sustainable dimensions of the city.

When the civil war ended in the late 80’s early 90’s, the society slowly started to function again. For the first fifteen years of post-war construction there was no consideration of sustainability; it was business as usual - buildings going up, air conditioning and a lot of importance placed on the use of the automobile. It isn’t until, finally, the past five years that some approaches were initiated to address the issue of sustainability. It has been evolving and improving and most of the work is done with a bottom-up strategy. The Ministries of the Environment and of Power have and are addressing issues relating to energy consumption in buildings. Recently, news about generating 12% of the national energy by renewable resources by 2020 have increase local motivation, but, people remain skeptical about how realistic these figures are. In parallel, significant amount of work is done by the NGO’s like the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC) or GreenPeace. Some are older, such as ALMEE (the Association Libainaise pour la Maitrise de l’Energie et pour l’Environement), the Lebanese Solar Energy Society (LSES), and the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC). All of these entities are trying to push sustainability within their respective domains. Although some are Engineers and others pursue social aspects, all are trying to introduce and push the concepts sustainability in the country. Today, most of the work is bottom-up while the top-down effect is little.


Yet, with the government support as presented, I think that we tremendously lack an “organizational” scheme. Lebanon lacks a consolidated overall approach that will organize the resources pertaining to sustainability. For example, the Bekaa valley is a very close source of food for this region and the country has over 200 kilometers of shoreline. In terms of geography these are fantastic resources but they need to be managed, consolidated, and coordinated. Basically, there is a long way to go, but it seems as if it has started.

In Lebanon, the decentralization of energy seems like an opportunity for new ways of thinking about energy production and distribution. Perhaps within a controlled mechanism this would be the case. Now, it’s purely a personal decision. Anyone can go out, buy a generator, hook it up and start selling electricity to people. Its location, amount of sound generated, and how much it pollutes is totally secondary. Every once in a while, when an official will declare that this situation has to be cleaned up, a short time of enforcement will end with no pursuit and business will get back to the “normal” mode. There are some interesting perspectives and interesting strategies being studied for the new zone of the Solidere area. Studies are still at very early stages whereby the challenges could develop into opportunities consistent with the scale of the Solidere development. Otherwise, the day-to-day process is difficult and can discourage people from pursuing these interests. In the near future, it would be most beneficial if the political intent is there to support people wanting to develop and implement sustainable concepts. In seeking a greater “organization,” should Lebanon be dependent upon the government to act?

This is a national issue and it should be the role of the government. Nobody has the jurisdiction to do this in the place of the government although support from other organizations would be welcome in getting closer to achieve the goal. Unfortunately, the political tensions between parties and the Ministry divided according to political affiliation, does not provide the healthy platform to achieve the required outcomes.

What role has the Lebanese Green Building Council (LGBC) played in this? I have heard they are working on a ‘guide’ or ‘best practices’ for green building in Lebanon? The LGBC is in the process of developing several projects. First, the LGBC was asked to provide environmental


guidelines for the new Annex Building that the Order of Engineers and Architects are refurbishing. They delivered and provided guidance and advice on how to renovate the building in an environmental way reflecting the interest of the professional body. It is an existing building and budget constraints had to be accounted for. The most important aspect of this Project was that the Order asked for this information - you can tell that they are thinking about this issue

Second, the LGBC was asked by the President of the Order to look at the Lebanese Green Building Law. The Law was prepared in the early 1960’s and hasn’t been reviewed often since - much less than necessary due to the civil war. It is far from having any kind of green scripting – articles do not even mention the relationship to solar orientation. So a team of five LGBC members reviewed all of the articles of the document and injected thoughts and ideas on what articles should be developed to make the building law a document that is respectful of the environment. Again, this shows that the President of the Order is focused on sustainability issues and wants to pursue these issues at a national level. The LGBC submittal consisted of 28 points, which are being formatted and will have to be studied by lawyers to see how it can be transformed into a legal document. After this stage, the document will be subjected to a voting process following which, if successful, will be adopted as a law. Third, the LGBC is providing a series of fact sheets that address local building materials. Three such fact sheets are already posted on the website and three others are being prepared. Fourth, the technical committee of the LGBC is developing a standard for Energy Efficient Air Conditioning in Buildings (funded by the US Aid and the Mideast). Fifth, the LGBC, in joint effort with the IFC, is in the process of developing a rating system for existing commercial buildings in Lebanon. As a document it could be compared to LEED, BREEAM, etc, the main being that it is created as a document that relates to the local climate, society and building methods.


The sixth project studied in parallel with the LGBC is the revision of the thermal standards for the built environment in Lebanon. This was a document that was created in 2005 and is currently being reviewed. It takes into account local building technologies, materials and space allocations and defines U-value ranges

for all components of the building envelope. Only the thermal aspect of the envelope is addressed. It’s a good start to have such a document circulated to use and subject to discussion. Once that is finalized, the intent is to integrate it into the building law. For example, if you are building in a specific region, your glazing component can’t go beyond a defined percentage of the exterior surface area or an established U-value. Therefore, one can either relate it to U-values of individual components or respect the area ratios. If a large glazing element is required such that the wall is not compliant with the requirements, then the performance of the overall component will be studied. This will require some simulations and is, therefore, a bit more of a technically challenging process.

Could you say it’s comparable to other such documents that have been published like LEED or BREEAM? There are several buildings registered, and pursuing the process to achieve LEED rating. Other projects are aiming for the BREEAM rating. This is the situation today, rating systems are imported from abroad (which, by definition, isn’t within the main framework for sustainability because it is being parachuted into this context). The idea is to create a rating system for Lebanon. The rating system will have a structure similar to that of LEED, BREEAM, etc. But, it will have to relate more with the local context, (there is a lot of sun and water is scare). The estimated time frame for this task is about one and a half years. Any other projects the LGBC are working on?

The LGBC organizes workshops at the Order about green building and depending on the audience, sometimes it has an architectural focus, sometimes it’s focused on mechanical aspects. Several talks were made at municipalities where a lot can happen since they have the authority to deliver building permits. It’s a slow process of raising awareness but municipal staff should know more about green building techniques. Every year, the LGBC organizes “Sustainably Week” as a part of Project Lebanon which is a building material exhibition. It consists of a series of lectures and the “Green Pavilion” a place that groups companies that provide green products or materials. It’s a space where you can get information on green products and listen to people talk about green buildings. Finally, many members and board members of the LGBC teach, so that is a dimension whereby we propagate information to students.


Do the schools have curricula around sustainability? Not really, and that is a major requirement that needs to be fulfilled. MAJAL, an urban observatory, launched a sustainable design competition for fourth year students. The event should be followed up by others in order to enforce sustainable thinking in the academic context. Although most universities don’t have a solid program set up, some have unofficially committed to integrating sustainability into their program so that students become acquainted with the subject matter. Any noteworthy green projects going up in Lebanon?


I would like to differentiate between real climate responsive buildings and buildings getting LEED certification. When they take the LEED guidelines and go through them like a checklist, it reduces the importance of the approach. In terms of marketing, it helps them a lot, and that is why developers are interested in it. The developer wants to get the green seal at the minimum initial cost, which is fine, as long as they integrate the requirements. The worst is when developers talk about it and don’t implement it - it’s pure ‘green-washing,’ saying we are doing something green which, at the end of the day, has nothing to do with green. But the main advantage of LEED and BREEAM is that people are talking about them. You have the client asking “should I go for it? How much does it cost?” This is all good progress, and maybe for the first project they won’t integrate the givens because of the initial cost, but once it starts picking up, they may come on board.

For the buyers is there an incentive for people to “go green?” It depends on the economic level. For the lower income population, there isn’t really an incentive. These projects we are seeing are selling for a high price.

On the other hand, you have a problem with the very rich since the advantages are presented as having more comfortable spaces and saving energy. But, it turns out that saving money is not a primary concern and since it’s not a law, you can’t enforce it. So, as a starting point, you need to cater for the middle class. That should be the opportunity to start creating these projects from which the rich and the poor can look at these and see the advantages and eventually want the same. Moreover, all public buildings should be examples. Everybody can use them and you can go visit them to understand the benefits. Do you think that this “green marketing” has an audience in Lebanon?

It has a growing audience. With every project, one has to educate the client by explaining what this subject is about. It’s painstaking to do it every time, but more and more people know about sustainability todayespecially people that come from abroad. They remain a minority...but a growing minority.


Translation: “On World Environment Day, think of what you’ll leave for your children.. The environment is in your care and responsibility - Ministry of the Environment.” A text message sent from the Ministry of the Environment.


“Urban Life with Natural Charm,� residential tower construction site, Clemenceau, Beirut.


Construction site, Agrippa Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


Construction site, Bechara al Khoury Street, Nejmeh, Beirut.


Construction site, Bechara al Khoury Street, Nejmeh, Beirut.


Maya Karkour EcoConsulting Beirut, Lebanon June 10, 2010

What is ‘sustainability’ for Lebanon? It’s actually quite interesting, because the way of working in Lebanon is different from the way of working in the UK. I am sure you know that. I find that for the projects we have here, the design team is quite enthusiastic because the sustainability issues they are addressing are completely new and different and they are adding variety to their regular way of working. We are working mainly with architects and engineers, mostly architects. Architects are generally the most enthusiastic, they collaborate more. While working in the UK, a lot of the things that one finds in BREEAM are already part of the regular way of building; insulation, air tightness, energy efficiency, energy-efficient lighting, all of this has been incorporated into building regulations now and the design team is knowledgeable about most issues. So, here in Lebanon, I feel like I am getting much more in terms of raising awareness and making designers think about sustainability matters, much more than in the UK. In England, you give the team guidelines, tell them what they need to get BREEAM points, and they can work on it independently, especially if they don’t want a very high certification rating. We do help them, but not as much as we help them in Lebanon, because here it is a completely new topic for most. Even researching products and materials here, seeing what is available, is proving to be a challenge because there isn’t that much, but at the same time we are discovering new products, bringing things together. That is a positive aspect.

On the other hand I find that some of the clients in Lebanon are just choosing sustainability because they want it for the image it brings. If you are looking at the developer, the end client, or the contractor, sometimes you feel that they are not really honest about it or they just want to score LEED points and publicize the building before actually starting to work on the process of making it sustainable. And this is where I try to be really firm, in terms of the wording they use in advertising their project. I always try to explain when I can that they can’t claim to “have” the LEED or BREEAM accreditation. They can say that they are “aiming” to get the score, but not that they have it. Some projects have claimed that they are LEED certified while they haven’t been even LEED-registered yet. It’s tricky and challenging; and you have to determine who is in to it in the real sense of being sustainable. We are working on maybe nine or ten projects now. Apart from several educational buildings, the rest are more luxurious projects. Already they are doing quite a lot as they have a very high budget compared to


affordable housing, so they are integrating certain measures that do contribute to being more sustainable. So if we recommend installing solar water heating panels for example, they often say yes immediately and it’s not an issue. In terms of the extra cost that this represents, it’s not much given the nature of the project. The same applies for interior details like the choice of a less toxic, low-VOC. It’s true there is a cost difference but it’s relatively small so they usually go for it. However, sometimes you can sense that they agree in order to get the LEED/BREEAM rating and not necessarily that they believe wholeheartedly about sustainability.

It is interesting to see that the luxury condos budgets in Lebanon are including green features. Right, often developers want the rating in order to position their project. For some projects you get the sense they are truly into it - that they really want to make a sustainable project. We give them a few options, discuss the alternatives that make the most sense for their project, and they get to see the different aspects of sustainability. Yet for other projects you get the feeling the client just wants to get the LEED Gold rating no matter how and why and just talk about it as a selling point. What is the market for green buildings in Lebanon?

I think there is a market now but it’s mostly the luxury market. This doesn’t mean you won’t see it evolve and spread to the mid-level market. In Lebanon, this is how it always starts. Due to the lack of proper government and regulations’ enforcement, it has to come from the private sector and generally speaking, it starts from the more upscale side. Do you think there will be a transfer of green building from high-end to middle?


Yes, I think so, if there are financial incentives. For example, the Central Bank of Lebanon has been, for past year and a half, offering an environmental loan type of incentive but it doesn’t seem that a lot of people have taken advantage of it. The terms for the loan state that if you are proposing a sustainable project, or even a green product, and you prove that it will be sustainable, energy efficient, or eco-friendly, then your bank may be able to give you a preferential interest rate on the loan. It’s a start and I feel that there are more

and more talks about sustainability, but I’m not sure how broad it is. So far I have mostly been working in Beirut, and most of the projects are ‘luxurious’ projects, but I don’t know what is happening in Saida, Sour, and Tripoli. I think we are far from the green thinking or trend in those areas. It’s mostly about education.

And that is the role of universities. Take for example the recent sustainability competition, launched by Majal. AUB students won the top three projects, but if you see the other projects it gives you a good idea of how other people are viewing sustainability. It’s very interesting, because it seems that other universities are really being influenced by the Gulf and their way of thinking, where you have to go big and tall. The emphasis is perhaps on insulating, putting very high-spec glazing, adding solar panels - focusing on energy efficiency or green high-tech features, but they aren’t considering more important issues like the impact on the land, whether it is sustainable in terms of urban planning or integrated into the natural environment or if it enhances the ecological value of the land. There are so many other things to consider first, and that is usually the role of the architects. Are you seeing any sustainable strategies that may differ from what you experienced while working in London?

In terms of materials, it’s quite hard here. What we are tyring to do for one of our projects is to recycle the construction waste and minimize sending everything to the landfill but it’s quite challenging. Even some material waste, like steel, are typically sold for recycling but it’s never recorded, so you don’t know how much of it is actually being reused. It’s quite challenging to keep track of all of this. In terms of materials, based on the LEED criteria, one of the few points we get is “regional materials” because concrete is regional. As well, if there isn’t too much timber in the design, specifying FSC timber is an option, because it’s not that much in terms of additional budget and since the wood is imported anyway we have access to FSC wood. Otherwise, in terms of truly sustainable materials, it is difficult unless the projects are not in urban areas but more rural; then you can play with different types of construction materials though we have yet to do this in Lebanon. In terms of the design itself - bio-climatic design for example - two of our projects have really taken this


step. The first of our projects consists of villas in the mountains and the architect has really done a proper study and is designing a very sustainable concept. For the second project, they took this into account as much as possible, but there is always the constraint of orientation, with having the view on this side of the sea, etc. It’s the same with glazing. For example, when you are are advising for higher specs for glazing for the project the client would say ‘yes’ since it’s not an issue for the higher end projects. Ideally the best is to have a proper thermal analysis undertaken to see what is the most appropriate size, positioning, and orientation of windows and openings one should use, but more often the case is the client doesn’t want to change the design that much, so they request the best performing glazing. It’s not the best approach, but it’s still better than nothing. It’s a compromise. Are you working more with LEED or BREEAM here?

What we have right now is four or five LEED projects and three or four BREEAM projects. Our residential projects use only BREEAM for now. I have been able to convince clients to go for BREEAM-Residential because I find that it is better and more adapted than LEED. LEED for Homes, for low rise residential buildings, is not actually available yet outside of the US so we can not really apply it here. For larger buildings, five stories or more, you could go for the LEED NC, but I find that it doesn’t always make sense because some of the requirements are not really applicable. Instead, you can go for something simpler and adapt it. Are you familiar with the LGBC and the guidelines they are creating?


Well, right now LGBC seems to be going into different directions. At the beginning they were thinking LEED, and then I actually suggested the possibility of developing BREEAM specifically for Lebanon. Because the BRE, the Building Research Establishment, allows you to do that. So the BREEAM scheme can be customized to the country in question. My suggestion was to take advantage of this by working with a really credible and knowledgeable institution that can help tailoring the credits for the country. At least start by creating a BREEAM Lebanon for residential projects because it’s cheaper to develop, it will go faster, and we would have a good starting point. However, it seems that LGBC wants to develop something local - why do we do LEED, why do we do BREEM, why not something just for Lebanon? I am not sure I am convinced of that. It’s true that we have some qualified people here, but I don’t think we have many people that have truly worked within the field of sustainable architecture and construction here.

If it’s just the matter of creating a checklist I think that it’s fine to do it on their own but a proper sustainable rating scale needs to be super serious and super rigorous. The good news though is that they are now in talks with the World Bank and the IFC for a proposal to work with international experts in green building and develop something for Lebanon. The scheme would be developed for Lebanon with the help of international experts. So if this works out, then it would be a good approach, because you are not just relying on local expertise. We still need international expertise. Have most clients and collaborators been receptive to the idea of sustainability?

Not always. I have a good example to cite of a project we started in Qatar a month ago and they want to get the LEED certification. As a side, a minimum of LEED Silver is actually required by local zoning codes. So we went to this meeting prepared because I was pretty sure people weren’t too aware of LEED, and we made a presentation about what it’s all about, just to give them an introduction. Then we sit to meet with the architects and they are all Lebanese. The lead architect, before we even start talking, interrupts us. He says, “Can I ask you, why are we doing all this? Why are we talking about sustainably? It’s actually a burden,” he states, “it’s a burden on everyone, it’s even a burden on the occupants. I don’t understand this whole concept.” And the example he gave was very far off. He stated that LEED tells you to get rid of an elevator in order to reduce energy consumption. I responded that LEED doesn’t tell you anything about that, that it’s your own decision on the number of elevators you use. LEED in fact allows you to make trade-offs and decide what makes the most sense for your project. His response was “Yeah, the person would be waiting in the lobby and it would get crowded!” - this was a total misconception. Actually BREEAM tells you to carry out a lift transport analysis to determine the optimum number of lifts you would need so that you don’t over consume energy and specifies the most energy-efficient lifts. It doesn’t tell you to make people wait and queue! The whole meeting went on like that with similar comments. There was so much anger in him, asking why we are doing this. I couldn’t believe it. Some people react that way. You do feel it when people are sceptical, just by their behavior, and you are not certain they are really convinced. So what are some reasons we are seeing the notion of green building expand?

In Lebanon, at the moment, it’s mostly for reputation and image, and for some projects it’s because they are being criticized a lot. For example, some of the huge towers in the middle of Beirut are I think going


for green certification because they are being heavily criticized for destroying old traditional buildings and going high-rise in the middle of the city… or at least it is one of the reasons, so it’s for their reputation. What is happening now is that competitors want to follow, so if a similar project to yours is undertaking certification then it is good for your image to do the same. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why, it’s still better than ignoring sustainability. Where do you think Lebanon is going with the sustainability movement?

It’s hitting very fast this year because it’s the hot topic. Where is it going? I think the sustainability movement is slowly happening, the way things happen a lot in Lebanon: because it is fashionable, it makes the media talk about those projects and thus a lot of companies are trying to seize the opportunity now. It will probably become more and more popular as companies take interest. I am sure that for some architecture practices it will become a part of their thinking which is great. Having worked with some architecture firms such as Prime Design, Raed Abillama Architects, and Dagher, Hanna & Partners architects, I know that they are thinking most of their projects in a sustainable way. Architects tend to be more interested in working that way, in going in that direction. With engineers, they are very concerned about energy, so some of them are also very enthusiastic about energy efficiency. Now the real problem, everywhere, is the developers. If they are not going to get something out of it, ultimately, they will probably just drop it. The only thing that would make sustainability more standardized in Lebanon is if we manage to incorporate some of it into the building regulations and codes. It always come back to the government. If you want it at the larger scale, it has to. Do you see it happening?


It will. If we have a stable country, I think it will eventually happen.

So much is top-down regulation. Are there ways that can happen from the bottomup? It can, it just takes longer. You do have a tiny proportion of the population that definitely are into it and are convinced that this is the way to go. Maybe not green buildings just yet, but “environmentally friendly” in general and I find that the younger generation is much more concerned. That is great because it means we are starting to move in that direction.

Yet the role of the government is important and they are doing a few things. Recently, the Ministry of Environment distributed 50,000 reusable cloth bags in supermarkets for free. This is an amazing initiative because a lot of people don’t think about all the plastic bags used. I think that the people working at the Ministry are very motivated; however they are limited by the power and budget that they have. I guess the global context is also playing in our favor. You hear of so many things happening globally in the direction of sustainability and reducing climate change that it ultimately will have a positive impact in the country. Lebanon feels pulled to compete with the Gulf?

Yes, absolutely, but in terms of true sustainability, of truly considering urban planning and quality of life, we are not there yet. We are addressing small components of building but it’s not the whole picture. This is the case in a lot of places and not just in Lebanon.

I don’t think making LEED compulsory would work and that is not necessarily what we want. It’s more important to educate people in universities, at schools, to make them understand how important nature, the environment, and sustainability are. It’s a way of thinking and afterwards things will naturally go in this direction whereby people start incorporating sustainable principles in their way of thinking and into their designs. Once you do that, it’s like planting the seed. In my opinion, education is crucial. It’s the most important element to make it really work.


Construction cranes looking up Agrippa Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


“Sustainability is about conveying a message of awareness, spreading a new lifestyle, encouraging




Instead of designing the most ef�icient (cost and energy wise) building, architects should think about a building that will promote community living, that will encourage reciprocal relationships and that will spread awareness about sustainability.” - Rana Haddad, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Construction site, Wafic Sinno Avenue, Majidieh, Beirut.


Beach north of Saida.


Dr. Issam Srour

Dept. of Engineering Management American University of Beirut May 26, 2010

What is sustainability for the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? I think the first step in sustainability is understanding the need. I am an engineer, we are in the business of constructing buildings, roadways and so forth. I think the first step is to understand the damage development has on the environment; be it the air, the water or other natural resources. I think that in developing countries, especially in Lebanon, we don’t see that relationship as well as the West does. The government should understand this and enforce mechanisms to ensure less damage is made on the environment. They should question the effect of development on natural resources at every level of a project asking if a material is local or if it is recyclable.

The second step is to look at economic impacts. It’s good to recycle, it’s good to use recyclable materials, but myself, coming from a contracting background, unless it’s economical, people are not going to do it. Companies are for-profit organizations. To justify good sustainable practices, it has to be tied to economics. The way to do this, in my opinion, is to look at the role governments play in the West in imposing more taxes on contractors that don’t recycle, reducing the taxes on importing recycled materials and giving preference to contractors with sustainable practices when they bid on projects. Unless the government steps in and assists in making it economical, people aren’t going to use more materials than they need, people are going to be reluctant to recycle. It’s better that it’s top-down. Here’s an example on how sustainability is driven by economics. It’s not uncommon driving around Beirut to see a person that looks really, really poor, jumping into a dumpster and taking out things. The reason guys do this are not because they are thinking of the environment, it is because of economics, it’s the only thing that they can afford to do. You see a lot of guys carrying carts, putting things on the them. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my favorite coffee seller on Manara recycled a stroller, inserted his coffee maker and cups onto it. We were joking that this is the best use that this thing has had probably since it was built. It has to be tied to economics.


What coursework have you developed to address these concerns? I am in the Engineering Management program, and designed a course called Lean Engineering around the idea of how can we design and execute projects with a minimum amount of materials. I included a couple of modules on sustainability looking at how to construct facilities that implement energy efficient systems while educating people on simple practices in using less energy.

The other topics that I not only teach, but also research, concern materials and recycling: How can we build projects with less material and how can we reuse some of that material. I have a new study with a faculty member in Civil Engineering that looks at the performance of recycled concrete verses concrete from quarried material. We went to a couple of landfill sites located near the airport. This is where the remains of 200 buildings from the southern suburbs ended up after the recent conflicts - right by the sea, right by the airport. We picked up some material, built concrete cylinders out of them, crushed them and tried to see how they would perform.

We are trying to expand the research now and have ten times the amount of the material to test. This material is from the Nahr El-Bared Camp, the Palestinian camp that got demolished in Tripoli. A big chuck of the camp was demolished, so we got access to the materials through the UNDP and we are seeing how we can recycle this material. There are different levels of recycling. There is simply using it for landfill projects, as they did with half of the material used in a landfill project that expanded the port of Tripoli. But ,what we are looking for is a better use of the material, meaning using it in structural systems.


We also address the demolition aspect of the project and the role of the architecture and engineering firm in designing the building system at the time when the building would be torn down. We are really thinking about completing the loop, the life-cycle of the project. So when you design it, you ask, “is this material that I am going to use recyclable? Should I favor recyclable materials? Is this material available locally?� And then for demolition ask, how easy will it be to take apart this building for recycling purposes? Will I be able to sort this material and reuse it? Or are these materials so interconnected that it would be too costly and difficult to separate them?

How have the department and the students received your class? It’s a mixed bag. I think the trend is that more students are aware of these problems. They hear from the upperclassmen and friends that went abroad and saw what projects are being worked on. What has been a bit disappointing has been the reactions in other departments and with the administration. I am not sure how much they really value sustainability. I try to raise the issue that we need to emphasize sustainability with new courses. Unfortunately, the response I hear is that it’s a fad and will eventually go away.

The other issue is that the topic of sustainability is interdisciplinary by nature. Even within the Department of Engineering and Architecture departments we don’t collaborate enough, and I think we should. It’s also across other faculties, the Departments of Business, Economics, or the Faculty of Health Sciences. It’s been difficult. It’s a small university and there’s a lot of politics. Everyone talks about becoming more “interdisciplinary” but the moment you want to do a joint research it’s blocked with questions of how much of the funding would go to the faculty, and you are really not encouraged to collaborate. How do people relate to the idea of sustainability in Lebanon?

First of all, I have to go back to understanding the damage and the urgent need we have in protecting our environment. I think a lot of people don’t sense the urgency. They don’t see the relationship that we are no longer going to have green spaces if we keep doing the same thing. Lebanon will no longer be a Green Lebanon, it’s probably not anymore, anyway. People are so driven by short term agendas in this country that it’s scary - people don’t think beyond tomorrow or even beyond today. There is a lack of awareness of the problems and the solutions. Solutions should be driven by designers, contractors, decisions makers and the government. The government’s role in this is huge, but it’s lacking. How much does the government know about these things? How much is the government willing to step in and help?


New construction of residential towers, Oucheid al Dahdah Street, Yassouieh, Beirut.


“Sustainability is harmony, ef�iciency, and responsiveness. Architects can address the issue of sustainability through using it as a concept as a basis of their design strategy and not as a checklist. The bene�it the architect should seek is the cultural/ environmental bene�it from which the economical bene�it will emerge.“ - Nadine Al Harakeh, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

“Sour’s coast is an extension of your home so keep it clean” Sign near beach access, Christian Quarter, Sour.


An Alternative Guide to Beirut: a Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism In the spring of 2010, the Vertical Studio C, conducted by Carla Aramouny and J. Matthew Thomas, investigated infrastructure as a focal point for Lebanon’s development and as a method for re-reading greater Beirut. The studio researched four main infrastructural sectors: water, transportation, energy, and waste. Through analyzing and mapping their conditions and effects on Greater Beirut, this exploration moved from the macro scale of the city to the micro scale of architecture. Visual diagrams and representative mappings were essential in allowing for the students to comprehend the city. With increasing populations relying heavily on Lebanon’s various infrastructural sectors for their everyday functioning, the country’s current public works are stressed. Tourism, the country’s most flourishing sector was reconsidered as an essential attractor for the development of infrastructural projects. At the semesters end, students were asked to re-imagine the relationship between these public works and to propose new architectural interventions that would hybridize infrastructure with touristic public programs. 47



Research compiled and visualized by Ralph Antoine Gebara, Rani Kamel, Rand Salah and Ghida Hashisho for Arch 509: Vertical Design Studio C: An Alternative Guide to Beirut - a Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism.


The above mapping represents Lebanon’s sources of water. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, potable water is sourced mainly through available aquifers. Eighty percent of domestic water is sourced from underground water with the resulting 20% sourced from inland rivers. The dotted lines show the extent of authority Lebanon has into the Mediterranean Sea.


WATER SECTOR The above mapping highlights the main sources of water extraction, including wells and rivers. The notation of key ports and rivers highlights the numerous social uses of the coastline and its relationship to the Mediterranean Sea.


The above diagram expresses the winter and summer supply of water to better demonstrate the shortages the country as a whole experiences throughout the year. Below, a mapping represents the amount of movement of water from the main water stations in the city of Beirut.


WATER SECTOR The above diagram illustrates the current four techniques for the sourcing domestic potable water. Below, water shortages and water cuts are delineated through a timetable, visually expressing the sporadic schedule of municipal water.


The Lebanese have resorted to “informal� solutions for sourcing their domestic potable water. The above diagram illustrates the relationship between the cost of water seasonally and the distance it is moved. The below diagram represents the impact bottled and spring water have on the environment.


WATER SECTOR The use and distribution of potable water comes in alternative forms. The above chart represents the domestic use of water for air conditioning seasonally in relationship to common household ďŹ xtures. The below diagrams represent two forms of water distribution, the branch and grid, with their strengths and weaknesses.


In sorting the data collected on water sources, the below diagram was created representing the opportunities of collecting the countries rainfall could create in leveling out the seasonal stress on the system.


WATER SECTOR The aged state of the existing water network contributes to a signiďŹ cant amount of losses. The above and below diagrams express the existing condition and a projection of utilizing rainwater collection.


A significant amount of Lebanon’s available water supply is lost due to runoff from seasonal storms. The above diagram represents the topography of Beirut and its areas of affected stormwater flooding. Mappings like these help to identify key siting for infrastructural re-design.




Research compiled and visualized by Yasmine El Majzoub, Raneem El Khachen, Rana Haddad, Joanne Hayek and Jad Melki for Arch 509: Vertical Design Studio C: An Alternative Guide to Beirut - a Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism.








The production of waste is a global phenomenon and the understanding one’s habits is better understood in relationship to others. The above chart explores the relationship of Middle Eastern countries quantity of solid waste to their populations. The right column expresses each countries estimated amount of hazardous waste.
















In dealing with the amount of waste, strategies vary from country to country. The above diagram looks at five Middle Eastern countries and their collection, treatment and final disposal techniques. Information gathered from the Arab Environment and Future Challenges Report by the Arab Forum of Environment and Development.


Lebanese Attitudes






Scenario 1: “The Free Throw”


Scenario 2: “The Scavenger Hunt”

Scenario 3: “Khabbirna” (The Hangout: “So, whats up, man?”)

Illustrating where waste comes from and how it is processed is expressed above and below. A number of cultural sources were identified above, while a detailed flowchart below allows the viewer to follow the movement of waste from consumer to incinerator.

































Scenario 4: “Mtawwal” (The Impatient: “Hurry up, will you!”)


Scenario 5: “3mol mni7 w kib bil ba7ir” (The Cycle: “...from which we came...”)

Scenario 6: “Seeb w khod alf” (The Guiltless: “Not my problem...”)












































Sukleen is the main handler of waste for metropolitan Beirut. The mapping, opposite, shows the location and movement of waste within the city of Beirut and along the coast of Lebanon. Above, a chart represents the six main landďŹ lls and dump sites with their size and frequency of use.



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The above diagram attempts to sort out the complexity of waste in Lebanon and the tools and techniques required for solutions. The outer ring expresses the ‘Root Causes’ of the mishandling of waste in Lebanon. The next ring expresses those ‘Underlying Causes.’ The ‘Immediate Causes’ are represented next and the center is filled with the ‘Inherent Manifestations.’ The lines drawn through the circle represent found relationships.



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Research compiled and visualized by Firas Abou Fakher, Nathalie Saleh, Siba Jaber and Wassef Dabboucy for Arch 509: Vertical Design Studio C: An Alternative Guide to Beirut - a Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism.






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The issue of transportation in Lebanon is a constant concern as road congestion increases yearly. To better understand its complexity, students documented roadway infrastructure and its required accessory equipment. The above mapping highlights the bridges, tunnels and other roadway infrastructures that can have a huge impact on ďŹ&#x201A;ow, congestion and safety (information is diagramed opposite).



Cataloging and representing the existing state of infrastructure helps to better identify the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Above, the existing public bus system is shown - a surprisingly hard to ďŹ nd mapping. Below, a visual tally of the road networks in greater Beirut.


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The below mapping designates Beirut into â&#x20AC;&#x153;walkableâ&#x20AC;? sectors based upon distance and neighborhood characteristics. The ability to revisualize the city into connectable patches allowed the student to better understand proximites and distances that have commonly been unknown or, in many cases, unthinkable. Opposite, students map out the vision of a transportation network that includes the use of water taxis.








































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The above mapping makes use of the available topographic studies of Beirut in understanding its walkability. Much of the city has been privatized and is not accessible to the general public. The orange zones make visible areas of the city with least resistance to the pedestrian. Studies such as these better prepares the student to address key concerns, limitations and opportunities for improvement.










Research compiled and visualized by Baraa Yakzan, Nada Nuwayhed, Carl Gerges, Zeina Koreitem and Sarine Sahakian for Arch 509: Vertical Design Studio C: An Alternative Guide to Beirut - a Studio on Infrastructure and Tourism.





2261MWatts 342MWatts






The infrastructure of energy in Lebanon is complex and cannot be restricted to only Beirut. Its impacts reach as far as Syria with its demands escalating at a fast rate. The above diagrams show the sources and uses of energy common to Lebanon.


* Energy imported from Syria

ONE YEAR (2010)


Without a constant source of municipal power, Lebanon is dependent upon alternative sources of energy to keep the country moving. The below diagram represents the common sources of fuel for energy.






The above mappings show graphically represent the three hour power-outages that occur daily across the city of Beirut. The below diagram speculates the use of energy in 2030 if municipal energy production is unable to increase. It is estimated that 30% of Lebanonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s energy use will be from generators alone.












AREA OF GENERATORS 65,000 M2 CO2 EMISSION 2,780,000 M3 COST OF DIESEL 91,102,500 $ 81

The result of generators as alternative back-up for power in the country of Lebanon has a huge impact on the environment, and as the diagram explores below, an even larger impact in 20 years. These costs and amounts of emissions from fossil fuels help better express the dire need for better forms of alternative energy for the country of Lebanon.

AREA OF GENERATORS 84,500 M2 CO2 EMISSION 3,614,000 M3 COST OF DIESEL 118,443,500 $


IN 2030



The above image represents in simplicity the amount of energy produced by the private sector in relationship to the public sector. The opposite mapping illustrates the possible wind farm locations based on average wind speed data collected for the country.




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as om





Solar Photovoltaic




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Evaluation of all the Renewable Energy Sources in terms of their suitablity for BEIRUT

The above pin-wheel diagram is an evaluation of all the renewable energy sources suitable for Lebanon. The collection and representation of this data better prepares the student to adjust their design proposal for maximum impact in addressing the infrastructure of energy.


Gas station, Al Nahr Street, Remeil, Beirut.


Electrical boxes, Christian Quarter, Sour.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sustainability is the essence of our survival on this planet, a planet that is running out of resources, running out of time and therefore, running out of life. Sustainability should play a part in everything we think about, everything we work for or aim to achieve in our lives. Sustainability lies in our ability to mold the aspects of our world and utilize them in our favor through the means of economics, politics, psychology, architecture, nutrition, and so forthâ&#x20AC;Ś As an architect I see sustainability as a new design process that I will experiment with in order to build a world that is more ecological than the one we currently live in. Sustainable design is a two-way street that involves thinking ecologically, while studying different systems and interactions, in order to design for the future.â&#x20AC;? - Ola Hariri Gholmieh, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Schedule of Beiruts three-hour power outages for the month of November, Manara, Beirut.


“My Hero, Saves Electricity, Saves the World” billboard for Sharp, Coastal Highway, Zouk Mikael.


Dr. Carole Levesque Assistant Professor of Architecture American University of Beirut

May 10, 2010

What is sustainability for the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? I find it difficult to define sustainability for the developing world, especially after being in Beirut. You think of this place as a cosmopolitan city, a place that it is “advanced”. It has problems, obviously, but it does give the sense that it is in control of its development and that it knows where it’s going. But if you lift the cover a little bit, one finds chaos in everything, everywhere you go and in everything that gets built.

It’s hard to have a clear understanding of where things are in terms of sustainability at the moment because there seems to be little things here and there, little pieces that make you think that things are happening. But ultimately there is no clear link being made to the everyday lives of most people. There seems to be two different worlds, completely divided, that don’t really talk to each other. I don’t know if it’s because society is organized that way to begin with, being strongly hierarchical, where you get the elite with a little bit of a middle class and a lot of the poor. The sustainability issues here are like that as well: you have some people that are really involved and really want something to happen, and you have a big chunk of society that doesn’t know anything about it, or doesn’t see why they should learn anything about it.

There is a big gap that I personally don’t know how to converge, unless perhaps the government decides to do something, but they have so many other issues to deal with. I often thought that the concept of sustainability should bring everyone together. But right now I don’t see this happening at all.

I am writing a paper at the moment that I will be presenting at a conference on sustainable architecture and urban design in Jordan. It covers my interests in sustainability, how one can create the desire for sustainability. I think there are different ways to think about sustainability, it’s not just about the technologies, it’s not just about making the perfect wall section. I think that if we can build spaces that better people’s lives, spaces that create a sense of belonging between people and with their environment, spaces that create a sense of pleasure and desire, perhaps we can make the other sides of sustainability more acceptable.


But definitely, even worldwide, I don’t think this is the focus. I think it’s currently based on the technologies and construction methods. How can we create these machines for cleaning the air, cleaning the water, etc., while discarding the idea of a person’s place in the world, of being a part of a larger system? Here at AUB, and probably in the entire region, the discipline of architecture is directly linked to engineering. It’s mostly about sustainable construction and not about the practice, not about how you deal with people. And to me, that makes sustainability seem so remote. I do think technologies can better our environment, but they are not the main focus, or at least not the only one. In that sense, sustainability here is where we were ten or 15 years ago in North America, when all we heard about was how we could use new technologies to solve our problems. I don’t think it’s about solving problems, but instead about changing our ways of being. In a way you challenge the field of architecture to take on the initiative in addressing how we relate to our environment - as a tool towards a greater sustainability.

The problem with this bottom-up strategy is that for the moment, everyone is disconnected. Everyone is doing his or her own little effort, which is great, but then what? What comes out of it? There is such a critical mass of people who are just trying to get a roof over their head, so why would they be trying to clean up the derelict buildings in their neighborhood or care what goes into the production of construction materials? These are simple examples, but when it comes down to it, they are trivial questions. As for the other half of the population, a lot of what they build, whether sustainable or not, is mostly concerned with the image.


A guide book I read before coming to Lebanon gave the advice, “Always look your best in Lebanon.” It might not be the most serious source of information, but it has turned out to be a good advice, since so much here is judged based upon your appearance. And it’s not so different with buildings, one cares about the image one is selling: which floor you live on and what kind of view to the sea. How can you challenge that AND think of the thousands of people currently in substandard housing? Why would the upper class, which has the means to build, want to engage with that? Even in the school here, I haven’t thus far seen any housing studios, that is, no studios on inner city, affordable housing. But if you go to any school in North America, probably in Europe too, there will be at least one studio that is dedicated to housing. And here, where it is desperately needed, it’s not even addressed within the school. And that just blows me away.

So do you see a sustainable strategy for a city such as Beirut? We had this conversation at the beginning of the year, us as foreigners, coming to live in Beirut. I don’t want to be the “sustainability colonialist” coming to say this is how you ought to do things. People here can figure out how to do it, some have figured it out already. There is organic food available, there are groups trying to reforest the mountains or develop a Green Building Council. But I think as foreigners, our role if any, may be to help people realize how this can better their lives. Not just to tell them how to do it, but to show them that if they can find ways to be sustainable, their lives will be better. I think maybe our role is to create this sense of desire, or empowerment to do it themselves and to find solutions. If the people are saying, “Why should I care, who knows what will come next month,” I think one needs to create a sense that it is possible, you just have to find the will to do it. Together with architect Rana Haddad, you worked on the MAJAL design competition with your design students. What did you think of that experience and what did you find in the students’ responses?

Well, the competition program was a regular brief, giving you the kind of building, the numbers of people you were to house, etc. But there were things that weren’t clear, which I think should have been clarified. For example, the brief said that the competition was about a building for student housing, so they needed to make this an intelligent building. But then it also said, quickly, that we could also think of ways to integrate bike lanes or public transport. But, it didn’t express that this project was to be a part of a greater scheme, it was presented like a potential detour: think of a really green building and while your doing it perhaps you can start thinking about its place in the city. I don’t know if it was just a question of how to write the brief, but the larger scale that sustainability entails wasn’t clearly spelled out. It was clear though that they wanted a green building construction. They wanted students to put together details of air flow, sun diagrams, etc. This is what they were after. So when Rana and I started this studio we asked the students what sustainability was to them. I would say 95% of the responses said that it was about reducing construction and using less resources. This is what sustainability was to them. It’s wasn’t about economics, not about where your food comes from, it was just about how we can reduce the materials we


use. So we worked hard at asking how sustainability can also be a lot of other things. Taking into account the people that are going to be living in the building, considering how they move about, how they can be together, how they can have a sense of community among the students and within the neighborhood. These were questions that had not crossed their minds.

We could have told them to design wall sections, which most teams did since they are learning how to put buildings together after all, but it was important for me that the project went further than that. In the end, pretty much all of them had a social agenda at different levels of success and addressing different scales. What was clearly evident in their work was that they were not just designing beautiful green objects but were trying to contribute to the neighborhood. Your students got the top three prizes, did you get a chance to see the other submissions?


Just quickly, at the awards ceremony as they were taking them down. It was only a quick browse, but a lot of the submissions that I did see seemed typical to what one would expect. There was sun diagrams and some green on the balconies and a lot of the imagery evoked the post-modern tower that we currently see everywhere in the city. I believe they received more than 75 entries and the president of the jury told me in the first couple of hours, they jury discarded 60 of them. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to think that one of the reasons our students were so successful was making the building more than just an object, but making a building that made sense beyond itself and was trying to do more.

Do you think your students were successful in doing that? I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know to what extent it was clear to them that what they were doing was going beyond the engineering of sustainability. But in the winning team, for example, one student already knew how to make the diagrams, he was knowledgeable about the constructive aspects, but his challenge was to step out of his mold and do something more with it. It was interesting that the other teammate, not quite as comfortable with the techniques, offered alternative ideas about the project and how to go about it, bringing in a much more tuned-in feel of how a student would actually live there, looking at how they would move about, hang out and share with the community. There were times when it was difficult between them, but I think in the end it worked out. They ended up with a building that was sustainably sound in its construction, but that was also sensitive to the city scale, to peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s movements and its connection to the neighborhood through public space. Two different views on sustainability had to be confronted and they managed to merge their ideas and it paid off. I think it was a similar experience for the other teams. So yes, I think they were successful.





FIRST PLACE: Danny Arakji & Wassef Dabboucy Faculty: Dr. Carole Levesque and Assistant Professor Rana Haddad

Wind harvesting

Vertical axis wind turbines:


arv est


Prefab units | Bed

- Rotate at any wind directions - Rotate at low wind speeds - No vibrations - Bird & bat friendly

North winds

Vertical ventilation


Wat Structural continuity er d rain age

Pump water through building

Green wall: -Micro climatic buffer -Block of cold north winds -Privacy provider

North winds

Living roof: -Natural insulation -Rain water absorber -Evapotranspiration effect: cooler space underneath -Compost food waste as fertilizers for vegetables: >> self sufficiency

Natural cross ventilation in all rooms

Free spaces:

Foldable furniture in walls

Porosity in facade >>breathing facade

Green wall

Sliding balcony steel bars DOUBLE ROOM PLAN 1:75

Indirect parking lighting Day: Natural lighting of parking from ground floor Night: Artificial lighting of ground by parking lights Water storage/recycling





P h c



Stretching Modularity “This proposal suggests progressive planning at the urban scale having architecture that responds to the site while merging with the urban fabric of the neighborhood. With a distinct design character, the buildings integrate sustainable systems that harvest renewable energies, like the sun and prevailing winds. On different levels, indoor and outdoor experiences interfere with the main circulation through the project, ranging from the most interactive public space to the most private bedroom. The lack of green spaces and public libraries in the neighborhood led to the creation of a public library, and a park where one can read and enjoy nature. The unique modular forms have different functions. The concrete prefab units are stacked together, providing sleeping spaces, common use spaces and service spaces. Each dorm room is set at a different depth in the facade, creating an alternating rhythm that expresses the individuals unique identity. The project and configuration of the program, is a combination of different, flexible spaces, that allows for a social mix of comfortable living environments without interfering with the students’ privacy.”


he envelop: mal resistance of lls m thermal

URBAN LINK Building mass sets back from more than the required, freeing this space, and providing a bus stop that will be used by both the students and the neighbors. Bicycle rack on ground floor enables students to circulate efficiently.

mmer o 78 su sun o


e ag er av




Common spaces

> Mass becomes higher progressively approaching North: avoiding self shadowing > All rooms are South / South-East oriented

Continuous pedestrian path from primary to secondary street.



Respecting heights of surrounding buildings Creating voids vis-a-vis surrounding buildings.

Recycled H beam vertical structure


1- Sliding in of concrete prefab units

Photovoltaic panel > solar electricity

2- Protrusions marking individuality


3- Diversification: Double rooms Bathrooms Nazareth School Free spaces

n latio enti ral v Natu








free space


Students double rooms Professors rooms (double/single)


double room












e ag er av


ooms: er share one m, or one can higher price.

ces, with ernatives:




win ter sun


t water for solar g.

win ter sun


ms: c panels to and harvest the

31 o

su mmer o 78 su


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Free spaces & circulation Public library Common spaces Public garden




Green roof Green wall


Bus stop



Parking & technical spaces

5654m2 765m2











Nazareth School


University Saint-Joseph



ast orie








University Saint-Joseph

SITE PLAN 1:1000

S T R E T C H I N G Wind harvesting


Prefab units | Bedrooms / Bathrooms / Free spaces

Green wall: -Micro climatic buffer -Block of cold north winds -Privacy provider

Green wall: -Micro climatic buffer -Block of cold north winds -Privacy provider


North winds

Living roof:

31 o

win ter sun


ag er av


win ter sun


e e


Common spaces


Professors rooms: Two can either share one double room, or one can have it for a higher price.

31 o


Active systems: -Photovoltaic panels to shade inside and harvest the sun. -Vacuum hot water for solar water heating.


Double glazing: with argon fill, provides required insulation for interior space.

->Passive heating/cooling.



Recycled steel: -vertical H beams (main Water efficient structure) fixtures with -horizontal I beams (corridor electric sensors support).

Doubling the envelop: Bigger thermal resistance of concrete walls (20+20=40cm thermal resistance).


Foldable furniture in walls

Thermal slabs: have embedded pipes carrying water for heating & cooling.


Porosity in facade >>breathing facade

Concrete: locally produced material.

ag er av

Green wall

Free spaces:



Natural cross ventilation in all rooms

Envirolet VF is a vacuum flush composting toilet system. All-in-one waterless units installed directly on the bathroom floor


-Natural insulation -Rain water absorber -Evapotranspiration effect: cooler space underneath -Compost food waste as fertilizers for vegetables: >> self sufficiency

Vacuum flush composting toilets

mer sun o 78 sum

arv est

- Rotate at any wind directions - Rotate at low wind speeds - No vibrations - Bird & bat friendly

North winds

Vertical ventilation


Wat Structural continuity er dr aina ge

Pump water through building

mer sun o 78 sum




Vertical axis wind turbines:


> Mass becomes higher progressively approaching North: avoidi > All rooms are South / South-East oriented


SECOND PLACE: Rana A. Haddad, Zeina Koreitem and Joanne Hayek Faculty: Dr. Carole Levesque and Assistant Professor Rana Haddad

Urban Forest “The intention of this project is to raise awareness through architecture. Revisiting the traditional lifecycle of a building, this design adopts a process of “give and take,” encouraging participatory architecture and affordability that creates a flexible building continuously in process, in construction, allowing the small maneuvers to make the whole -- a sustainable sharing whole. “The buildings will grow like trees in a forest, they will grow freely, with minimum impact and footprint on the site. They will extend their roots underground and free the ground. They will not shade each other, they will collect the rainwater. They will be in harmony with nature and the urban environment, they will absorb. They will give and take. They will be individuals, part of a whole. They will be the lungs of the city. The Urban Forest.”




THIRD PLACE: Rani Kamel, Ralph Antoine Gebbara and Basil Abi Hanna Faculty: Dr. Carole Levesque and Assistant Professor Rana Haddad

Barometer: Student Housing and Water Treatment Plant â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sustainability needs to be considered at all scales. We propose an infrastructural facility that serves alongside our housing program. Water is a precious and under-appreciated resource in Lebanon and because pumping potable water is necessary, our interest was to include a Water Collection, Treatment and Distribution facility. The neighbourhood could benefit from this facility, while each new project could contribute with their own specialized site resource. Our proposal is a thin, two-component building that is naturally lit and ventilated. The building is oriented towards ideal sunlight while the services face the ventilated north-west. Access is through two cores, one more private than the other. Vehicular drop-off, handicap access and a loading bay are provided. Our water-strategy works on different scales: The Bathroom Scale: immediate re-use of greywater in the toilets; The Building Scale: collecting and treating all the excess greywater and stormwater; and The Facility Scale: collecting and treating neighborhood greywater. Our design acknowledges the water treatment facility beneath, raising awareness visually, aurally, and interactively.â&#x20AC;? 99


View from sea towards the Lebanese Mountains (photo by H. Khoury)


ARCH 040: Beyond Green: Seeking Sustainability in the Built Environment As climate change impacts cities, their populations, and the natural resources they depend on, it is the architect that must be able to discern the strategies and techniques required to combat this crisis. The fall 2009 course elective, Beyond Green, took a broad perspective in exploring the field of sustainability by addressing design tools of the past and present, as well as uncovering new techniques and strategies developing on the fringe of the profession. The demands of a sustainable world requires designers who are at planners, urban designers and architects, while also being well versed in policy, social/cultural trends and the effects of globalization and mass communication. Throughout the semester, a working hypothesis for sustainability in the built environment was developed, both individually and within the class as a whole. By exploring a number of positions on the topic, students were asked to ground them in local design, construction and policy. By localizing this hypothesis in the city of Beirut, and specifically through the element of water, students began to understand how the various scales and frameworks of this city and its dependency on water can demonstrate the complexity of urban sustainability. Water was used as an illustration in greater systems thinking for the city of Beirut. Water is worked in a number of ways, manipulated through architecture and urbanism, as much as through its natural transformations (liquid, gas and solid). By grounding our investigation in water, students utilized the newly gained tools and frameworks of sustainability to demonstrate new understandings of its meaning within the built environment. While green building and the issues of sustainability were not new to the students as a whole, this course pushed participants to expand their notions of the term â&#x20AC;&#x153;sustainabilityâ&#x20AC;? in the built environment while questioning its integration in the design and building process. From greenwashed advertising to zeroemission standards, the design environment has shifted while our tools and techniques (the ones that got us into this situation to begin with) are just beginning to evolve. The course guided students to expose the underlying processes, multi-scalar systems, and diverse forces of socio-cultural and political ďŹ&#x201A;ows that impact the lens of sustainable design.


Assignment 1: The Individual Flows

ARCH 40: Beyond Green: Seeking Sustainability in the Built Environment

Water impacts our built environment in nearly all ways imaginable. From sourcing water to its impending discharge, from prevention to storage, architecture and urban design is determined, if not tested, by the essential element of water. Beyond Green used water as an illustration in greater urban systems thinking throughout this course. By grounding the investigation in water, students utilized the newly gained tools and frameworks of sustainability to demonstrate new understandings of its meaning within the built environment. Their first step in this investigation was to explore the many ways in which we engage with (or disengage with) water. It is through this lens that the students could begin to understand how the various scales and frameworks of this city and its dependency on water can demonstrate the complexity of urban sustainability. The following photos were submissions by the students representing how they experience water in the city of Beirut and greater Lebanon.


Previous, Karine Yassine; opposite, Anthony El Khoury; below, Mohammad Ramadan


Right: Carl Gerges; opposite, Firas Abou Fakher.



Below, Dana Hamdan; opposite, Dana Mazraani; next, Dara Dajani Daoudi.


Below, Dina Mahmoud.

Assignment 2: Operational Mapping

ARCH 40: Beyond Green: Seeking Sustainability in the Built Environment

The midterm assignment for the fall Beyond Green course students explored, through representation, the inherent forces, flows and/or metabolisms of water in the built environment that they discovered within their images from Assignment 1. Their explorations took a two step process that attempted to “re-present” the complex relationships of nature and social relations (as well as political and economic) occurring within/around/about the urban condition of their water image. It was argued that by exposing the underlying layers of a site’s perceived urban construct one can better understand the contradictory forces operating. The course pressed the ideal that true sustainable design has the capacity to mediate the power struggles that can disengage us from a sites fullest potential. This exercise was intended to prepare the students in creating a new process of socio-environmental reconstruction. They completed this task through mapping. Our impression of the built environment, of one’s site, determines our design decisions. This assignment asked students to create a mapping that illustrated a dynamic operation occurring on their site of inquiry. Inspired by an image, students outlined one of the following site flows: an infrastructural project, an architectural/citywide application or policy, or a local/cultural adaptation. Students were encouraged to create a visualization that could capture the scale of the site metabolism, its operation in time, and the many stakeholders that are impacting/impacted by its presence. The students final mappings were posted to a class blog to create a “collective construction” of the newly gained urban knowledge of water in the city of Beirut.



On the Path of Nahr Ibrahim Dina Mahmoud and Anthony El Khoury “In the mountains of Afqa in northern Lebanon the source of “The Ibrahim River, or ‘Nahr Ibrahim’ has strong, dynamic waterfalls. Along its path, it pools into small lakes and basins forming little paradises where people gather to swim and enjoy the untouched waters. From there, it is split by an dam into two streams. The waters continue into the villages of Chouwen and Janné, still relatively clean and seemingly unharmed to the many campers that enjoy the coolness of the riverbanks on hot summer days. There, they bathe in the cold, freshly melted icewater, and go back to the city with a rested mind and clear conscience, oblivious to the amounts of trash they are leaving behind, to be carried downstream, to be caught in the rocks and trees growing along the river. From this point the water is used modestly to irrigate the small agricultural plots that dot the mountain landscape and to feed the villages along the river. It goes through its first industrial processing at a second dam, an electric power plant in Yahshoush, which significantly reduces the power of its flow. It can hardly be called natural at this point, as the water approaches its final destination concrete channels siphon the water off into numerous industrial stone and marble factories. The chalky, dusty residues and factory waste are dumped back into the now weakening river. Further along, large banana plantations spread out along its banks, feeding off of its waters. By this point it has neared the highway and urban populations and the two separate streams are again reunited. This is the only part of the river the city dwellers get to see. Restaurants line the side of the river and offer ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ waterside daning. And finally, it is set free, allowed to flow passively and defeated under the highway and into the Mediterranean Sea.”

Fishermen vs. Towers Dana Hamdan “This photo was taken last summer, 2009. I was completing my internship at an architecture office based in Ain el Mraysseh, Beirut. The office had a view onto the sea. One day, while looking out the window, it was impossible not to notice how the sea was changing color. It turned from blue to a greenish white, an unusual color that stirred feelings of disgust. In an interval of an hour or so this weird color faded away and the sea turned back to blue. But the color of dirt came back again just a few days later, so I took a photo of it with my mobile phone. At this time I was located in an environmentalist party office, working on an exhibition to raise awareness about ecological problems, so I was documenting every alarming case I came upon. Again, another hour later and the color was gone. The sea shore kept changing in color all day long making us wonder, but we were too busy to go out and really see what was happening. But, our guesses to the pollution were correct. When I left the office that day, heading to my car, I noticed a construction site just next to the building where I work. Waste material was being disposed of right onto the shore! And then, the tide would carry the waste deep in the sea. The sad part was is that no one cared to stop this crime, and the next day the same thing happened again. The most striking part is that I saw people fishing around the same spot where the waste was being disposed of, and it’s within proximity to the AUB beach! Whoever was responsible for that construction site either had no clue about the harmful effects of their actions or simply were careless and selfish!” 116


“I Feel a Drop Falling on My Head” Karine Yassine and Rana Haddad “I am walking down the street, I am walking down the mountain, I feel a drop of water falling on my head, I step on a puddle of mud. On the sidewalk I see a translucent bottle, its top cut off, standing by the wall. It is half filled with water. I see a yellow opaque bottle sitting on the ground, by the rocks. I hear ‘plop’ the sound of a drop falling into the container overlying the echo of cars honking. I hear ‘plur’ the sound of a smooth flow of water meeting the ground, complementing the sound of the wind and leaves. Stains of water are unevenly marked on the sidewalk, it is infiltrating the joints of the square tiles, moisture is taking over the white wall. It seems like water has been getting out of the bucket. Did it overflow? Did it miss the target? Is there a leak? A deep puddle of water surrounds the bottle. Greenery is taking over the edge, it‘s spreading between the rocks. Where is all this water coming from? What happens to it? I look up, I see where the water is coming from. A thin tube coming out from an A/C unit. It is being collected, deviating the natural free fall of water. I take a step forward, I notice the tip of a bottle sticking out of the earth. Can I drink it? Is it collected to be used or and not to be stepped on? Can I use it rather than waste it? I am drinking it. It is tasty and fresh. I use my hands to collect the water. It is dripping down my arms. I take an empty bottle and fill it with this natural water. I am walking away, I feel a drop of water falling on my head. I am stepping over the source now, I am walking down the mountain. I am thirsty, I can’t find another source of water. It is good I have my bottle.” 118

Good Thing It Only Costs 500LL Bassem Chahwan and Carl Gerges “Good thing it only costs 500LL. You can get a better price if you buy a dozen, because it’s cheaper by the dozen. The 1.5 L costs 750 LL (1.25 times the price and 3 times more water), the 5 L gallon costs 1500LL (3 times the price and 10 times more water), the 19 L reusable gallon costs 5000LL, we get it for 4500L (9 times the price and 38 times more water). This is the best deal, 263.14L per Liter. You could go to the ‘ein (spring) and fill up whatever container you have with the fresh cold water at no charge, or you could set up your own filtering system and get potable water straight out of the tap. You could also...WAIT, WAIT, WAIT... potable water out of the tap?! Why are you so surprised? Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be? He is a farmer, he lives in Akkar. Arab, Jarab, Darab, Naatab, Khachab, Ghadab and Yves are his sons who are the survivors, after five others had died. With their father they grow vegetables, the ones that grow best without water, tomatoes. They actually rely on rain water to grow their crops, if it’s a dry season, they harvest the tomatoes after the first rain, with no irrigation they call the tomatoes ‘baal.’ Now that they know how to grow crops with very little water, they still need to find a way to get their drinking water. Drinking water could come from the rain water they collect, a lake nearby, or sometimes from the leaking faucet they have attached to the rusty pipe coming from who-know’s-where. No ‘ein nearby means no luck for them. And with no good rain water collecting system either, it really means no luck for them. The lake dries sooner than they realize, again, no luck for them. The quality of faucet water is why Abou Arab now only has seven sons. Apparently, mud, dirt, mire, muck, earth, ooze, sludge, giardia, E. coli, and protozoa did not prevent them from simply wanting to quench their thirst.” 119


Waste Water Treatment in Lebanon Dana Mazraani “One day, Karim was wandering around the AUB campus considering the idea of becoming a visiting student for the spring semester so he could spend some time with his relatives in Beirut. While he was walking around one of the departments, he almost tripped over a large bucket filled with some sort of bubbly water with white foam on the surface. Looking around for the reason for the ill placed bucket, he noticed a janitor mopping the floor inside one of the rooms. After a while, when Karim went to use the toilet, he noticed a little room before the entrance of the restroom, where the janitor was disposing of what was now dirty “gray” water in a weird looking sink. It was the first time he had seen such a fixture. To his knowledge, cleaning water was usually disposed of in the WC. He couldn’t help but ask the janitor about that weird looking sink, to which the janitor smiled and answered that it was called a ‘mop sink.’ It is a fixture equipped especially for public buildings for mop water to be disposed of. He pointed out three metal rods coming out of the mop sink and said that those were used to hang the mops after they were cleaned. Happy to be making this discovery, Karim went down to Aain El Mreisseh, and waited for his cousin to be done with his classes. He had an hour to waste, and since he hadn’t been to Lebanon in four years, he decided to go to the Corniche and enjoy the sea on this sunny winter day. As he was enjoying his promenade, he observed all the different people around him: the fishermen, the joggers, the couples flirting, and the few people swimming. He then leaned on the rail to enjoy the horizon even more. To his misfortune, he had settled directly over a large pipe located across from McDonald’s. To his surprise, when he leaned over, he saw untreated wastewater coming out of the pipe and into the sea. The pipe was discharging the wastewater without any treatment directly into the sea. He looked again at the fishermen, the couples, the joggers and the people swimming and he was alarmed. Compared to where he comes from, wastewater goes through all sorts of treatment to the point where it gets rehabilitated for irrigation, etc. These people were hanging around this filth and they’re not even aware of it, he thought. Karim then thought back again about the mop sink and said to himself, “why have these intricate fixtures if the water is not going to be filtered and end up directly into the sea anyway?!”


Watering Day Firas Abov Fakher CHAPTER 1: “Son, bring the hose closer!” Shifting, a boy of 12 or 13 looks towards the far end of the field. Dragging the hose seemed worthless, he knew the water would dry up in a hour or so, but he says nothing. “Where have you been this morning? You know its watering day.” “Nothing, he replies. “Nothing?” the father yells.” The son drags the hose to the far end of the field, looks up at the houses around the field and sees a window begin to open in the landowner’s kitchen, no doubt to get a hint of a breeze. CHAPTER 2: The window took too much energy to open, not worth what little breeze it let in. No matter, he pours another glass of cold water and sits by the window, watching the farmers tilling his land. It’s a wonder they’re still able to make it, ever since the well dried up they’ve had to buy water from the neighbors. No matter, he has no reason to trouble his mind, he gets the rent, all else is anecdote. Where does the harvest go? It is a wonder. How has a group of Bangladeshi made it to these suburbs, taken control of pretty much all the agricultural fields, and managed to make a living? It is a wonder. He should just sell the land. CHAPTER 3: “We’re not going to sell this month. The water’s out father.” He knew this would happen, he knew his son knew this would happen, he knew this would happen again. Thoughts of rumors that farmers farther north are having similar problems, and that they were watering with sewage, had reached his ears and surfaced in these very moments. “The water’s out father.” CHAPTER 4: That was the second time today that his father was lost in thought. “Father, the water’s out!” “I know son.” CHAPTER 5: The landowner closes the window and watches. He remembers when the town was a town, he remembers also when people started coming in large numbers, to live affordably, close to the center. He remembers, from pictures, what the mountains behind his house looked like before the migration. He glances again at the farmers, he wonders how long they will stay, if they will leave like the ones before them.


The Boat Trip Dara Dajani Daoudi “Last summer I joined my friends on a trip to Europe. On July 3rd we left to spend four amazing days in Barcelona. On July 7th we had a plane to catch to Rome, which we forgot to confirm, so we lost our seats. Instead of waiting to catch the next flight out, we decided to board a cruise that was leaving the port of Barcelona, heading to Rome. I consider it to be one of the most rewarding experience in my life. What was fascinating on this boat trip was the way the ship dealt with the water; water was not only used for transportation but for recreation as well. The picture I took was taken while at sea, between Barcelona and Rome. The sea water was used as a means of transportation on which the ferry traveled, carrying on board 2,200 passengers of all nationalities, as well as garage with a capacity for 215 cars. As for recreation, we spent our time relaxing around the ship and swimming in the pools that were located on the upper level of the ship. Everyone hung out around the pool during the day before they hit the casino and the bars in the late evenings. There were two pools on board, one big and rather deep pool for adults and another small shallow pool for kids. The photo I took illustrated the friendly atmosphere provided by the pools, creating a public bathing area and popular meeting spot.”

Waste Water Treatment Dima Atchan The Earth has been running through the planetarium system for millions of years now, and since its formation it has been tightly related to nature. In fact, in any graphical representation, mother earth, the land, is represented as green, natural. Since then, the ecological/environmental system has been founded on a universal equilibrium where a creature is in total harmony with nature, founding the balance of our planet. However, our appearance as a more complex species complicated the natural process. Our articulate species defeated the natural and broke all the rules of the universe and instead of our gradual extinction like most of the early creatures, we were able to overcome the environment and to surprisingly adapt it to our needs. And thus, we grew bigger as proved in our population increase, especially during the current radical era. Our humanity and character permitted us, since the Greek Empire, to appreciate the ‘logos’- logic- over the ‘mythos’- ideologies and values. Logical thinking permitted us to observe, think, predict and find solutions to problems accordingly; in other words to build properly. This is how we enhanced the quality of our lifestyles and avoid most natural disasters, although we were the main reason behind other more dangerous catastrophes, especially after the invention of weapons. We were our own saviors and our own destructors, ie. Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s nuclear bombs. Our misconception and misinterpretation of the flow of our actions not only caused our premature fatality but also accelerated the environmental extinction illustrated by the climatic changes, pollution and global warming. As a way to relieve our human consciousness, international protocols for the environment took place and many actors have taken it upon themselves the responsibility to raise people’s awareness all over the world. 125

Designers and architects have contributed to this issue by creating the sustainability movement. This idea uses natural resources and recycles it for re-use, and is being applied to all kinds of building typologies. Residential buildings have taken the lead in the application of sustainability through the green construction movement where resources are being managed, especially water resources and solid waste that are being reworked and recycled. Concerning the water system in building, two drainage systems are employed, one known as black water; it carries human excrement through pipes to be discharged in the sewage system. The other system of pipes holds the grey water; it includes both lavatory and bath water. This second water system is usually either treated within the building so the water can be reused in the fixtures or it will be treated elsewhere and discharged to the sea. This cycle is known as a primary level of treatment; it is practiced in Lebanon on a small and limited scale at Al-Ghadir Sewage Water plant. When a second level of filtration is attained, the grey water can actually be used for irrigation or for domestic fixtures (ie. flushing the WC). And finally, if the last level of filtration is reached, grey water could eventually become tap water. Unfortunately, none of the two last cycles exist in Lebanon or in Metropolitan Beirut, or even within the limits of Ras el Nabeh where my photo was taken. In fact, most grey water that drains from residential buildings in Ras el Nabeh circulates through the sewage system to be directly dumped into the Mediterranean Sea which not only results in undesirable odors but also results in the spread of bacteria and diseases. Nevertheless, this grey water reaches the Al-Ghadirâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s river transporting the waste to Al-Ghadirâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plant for a primary level of treatment, to be discharged in the sea. The abuse of our water does not only revolve around its treatment and discharge, but also around the issue of mixing both grey and the black water within the same system. Moreover, our lack of coordination and underground planning results in a discharge of our rainwater that is directly shed into grey and black water sewage systems instead of assigned to an independent water collection system. Our unconscious environmental abuse is generating greater calamities that are, once more, adding in the human record [of self destruction], especially in developing countries such as ours. Our actions, although unintentional, are severely afflicting our ecological system and profoundly altering our water system. Perhaps, the first step to healing this should be at least the installation of a sewage system in forgotten areas. This is not to mention that the usage and exploitation of the underground water resource should halted, and future plans should be studied in order to utilize our abundant rainwater.



Drinking Water Flows - Beirut Mohammad Abdullah Ramadan “I leave AUB and walk back home. On my way, I feel thirsty, so I buy a bottle of water for 500 LL and drink it immediately. When I arrive home I am still thirsty, so I turn on the tap and the water flows. I feel lucky, as the municipality only provides drinking water two or three days per week. However, when I drink the tap water, I taste chlorine. As tap water is not pleasant to drink, and as I am not willing to pay a lot of money to buy “Nestle Pure Life”, I visit a water shop, and get a 20 litre plastic container filled with drinking water for 3,000 LL. This is a typical story. The irony is that in the same day I will drink expensive water, cheap water, and free water. The fact that the municipality provides free water only three days per week makes me obliged to rely on cheap water from water shops. Even when free water is available, I might consider cheap water, as the tap water has a “chlorinated” taste. As for expensive bottled water, I am obliged to buy it when there is no other source of drinking water. This happens when I am in a public space. Now, besides the cost, there’s a question of quality. In Lebanon, local brands of bottled water are supposedly of high quality, as they are bottled directly from the source, which is a natural spring that is not exposed to any contamination. As for the municipal water, it is controversial whether it is healthy to drink or not, but it’s for sure that it has an unpleasant taste that makes me reluctant to drink it. As for the cheap water, nobody can evaluate its quality! It has more or less a pleasant taste and it has a very low price making it the most popular option. But nobody is quite sure whether this water is treated properly, especially knowing that it comes from a groundwater well, as groundwater in Beirut is contaminated with nitrates and it for sure needs to be treated.” 129

Beirut Domestic Water System Roula Gholmieh and Maissa Naim “I wake up, go to bathroom and turn on the tap. I wash my face, brush my teeth. I use the WC and flush. I turn on the tap again and wash my hands. I go to the kitchen, fill a glass of water from the water distributer, drink half of it, and put it back on the table. I go take a shower. In the afternoon, I fill up the watering can and go out to water the plants. Later, I call my friends and invite them over for dinner. I go to the kitchen, take a damp cloth with detergent and start cleaning the counters. I go to the freezer and fill the ice cube trays. I get some vegetables and wash them using the filtered tap water. Meanwhile, I start boiling water for the pasta. Two hours later, dinner is ready and my friends are here. I accidentally spill some wine on my pants, so I go upstairs to the bathroom to soak my pants, I turn on the tap and add some detergent. I go back downstairs, to check on the grill and serve the main course. We sit down and started eating. Minutes later, water starts dripping slowly from the ceiling, my brother starts yelling. I realize I have left the water faucet on upstairs. Oops. But where did this water come from? It’s raining. The water goes down the river. It is collected by the municipality, but most of this water isn’t used for domestic use, it flows directly into the sea. Another water source comes from the ground, from the water tables. Today, due to the decrease in the amount of river water, the municipality mixes both river and ground water. Before sending it to our houses, it is treated with chlorine in order to kill the living organisms. This water is then piped to our houses. When the water gets to the reservoirs in our buildings, it is filtered from the excess sodium and magnesium by a softener device. Then it is distributed. Domestic water use is separated into two user categories: kitchen use and bathroom use. Water used for the kitchen must be cleaner and therefore needs more developed filters. Depending on how bad the quality of water is, one can choose between a UV sterilizer that kills the microorganisms, and the reverse osmosis device, a recent technology consisting of a very fine filter. The water arriving from the municipality is supposed to be potable, but due to the large amount of chlorine used to kill microorganisms an external filter is usually added before drinking it. On the other hand, bathroom water used for bathing doesn’t need to be that clean, therefore one can use the normal filter, or if the water isn’t of good quality, a water softener can be used. In Beirut, people usually get their water from the municipality, but others can choose to use private ground water sources.” 130

Sourcing Water Massa Ammouri and Nadine Al Harakeh “I was walking on the sea shore, people ahead of me. Some are fishing, some are sitting, and some are jogging. On my right, the sea. The large boats scaling down gradually till my eyes met the horizon, an endless line that arouses my thoughts, this unrealistic line, is it a boundary of Lebanon? Of the sea? Of the earth? Of the sky? Or is it the limit the Lebanon’s international waters? Since our jurisdiction and the international water line are merged, how much does Lebanon profit from its water? What relationship do the international waters have to the water under Lebanon’s jurisdiction, especially with a coastline of about 225km? My sight shifts while walking, I could see Jounieh bay now, and next to it the eastern mountains of Lebanon. I started wondering about the Lebanese landscape where the mountains meet the shore, where my sight of vision goes up to define the undulated outline created by the peaks of those mountains. This is where rainwater is filtered, purified and fills up bottles just like the one I am holding, that I bought only minutes ago. I was walking by the Quaraoun Lake, in the Bekaa Valley, looking at the quiet scenery around me. Some tour boats are waiting there, other water activities are available too, and few people were there, only taking snapshots of the picturesque view. I was standing next to some rocks; a sort of a dry shore. I could see a blue line marked by pebbles on the ground. This is where last winter the water level peaked and in some coming months, will hopefully reach again. Looking at the lake, my eye filters the image to keep my sight on the one dominating element, water. It’s all you can see at first. Then I start to realize the various tones of that water. Upon the lake, the shining sun is reflecting a shadow of the eastern Mountains in front of me. The water has a dark opaque color; I couldn’t see what was underneath. It is filled with waste, polluted, with no life within it. Beyond the trivial boats my sight is blocked by a concrete horizontal block called a dam, linking both the eastern and western Lebanese mountains. My eyes now can see the delineation of the enclosing towns around the artificial lake. They profit from this water and the electricity produced from it. Isn’t this cove created by the topography of the land? Isn’t there other natural water sources set within the hills? In fact, the sources of water originates from various places, yet meets in the same location. The topography of Lebanon allows for certain connections to take place, not just visually but also physically. The horizon appears not only as a boundary but also as the joint of two different sources of water. The water of the eastern mountains of Lebanon meets with the water of the western mountains, meeting at the horizon, at the sea.” 131

The Water Distribution of Beirut Sara Abu Saleh and Ola Hariri “Hafiza wakes up in her bed, turning from side to side, irritated by the heat of a hot summery August morning in Beirut. The air conditioning in her bedroom is out of order. A drop of sweat is running down her forehead. Her throat is dry from the heat. Her body is dehydrated due to the alcohol she consumed at the neighbor’s house party last night. Aching for a drop of water she sits up straight and looks around for a bottle of water. Unable to find one, she gets out of bed, drowsy, thirsty, and walks towards the bathroom to wash her face. She turns on the water in the sink to wash her face. Seeing the water run down the sink, Hafiza feels as if she found an oasis in the desert. She was so tempted to stick her head under the sink and drink the water, but she held back from doing so, by the fear of getting sick from drinking the tap water. So she sticks to washing her face and brushing her teeth. After having doing so, her thirst grew stronger and when she found herself out of bottled water, Hafiza rushed out of the house. The dryness of her throat was unbearable, it made her weak and drowsy, it made every step seem slower and endless. She finally opened the gate to the street, rushed outside expecting to breath some fresh air, instead she felt the humidity in her nostrils and the heat on her skin. Her throat was getting torn from the dryness. She reached the mini-market next to her house, ran towards the fridge and got herself a bottle of water as if it were the key to heaven’s door. She paid for the bottle and drank it like it was the last drop of water she will ever taste.”

Bottled Volume - Bottled Value Yasmina Chami and Zeina Koreitem “One day, Gregor was walking in Beirut. He was thirsty, and decided to buy a bottle of water. He went inside a small shop and asked for a small bottle of Sohat Water. The shop vendor gave him a blue, transparent plastic bottle, and in exchange, Gregor gave him 500 Lebanese Liras. On the bottle, Gregor saw that it contained 500 ml. “What exactly is 500 ml?” Gregor wondered. As he continued his walk, he passed by an old lady carrying big bottles of water. Those were the 2 liter ones and he had a thought, “excuse me, dear lady, how much did one of your bottles cost?” “One thousand Lebanese Liras, my son,” she replied. That was stupid, thought Gregor, my bottle should be worth half its price! The water in my bottle is a quarter of her bottle in volume, yet it costs half. What am I paying for then? A big truck passes in front of him, carrying many empty plastic water bottles. He remembers discovering that one of those contains 19 liters - and it only costs 5,000 Liras. How many small bottles could you buy with that? But how many could you fill, instead? He decides then, to calculate the value of his neighborhood- in water. To his right, he sees a roof terrace, and an old man watering his plants. The plants are grown in big blue plastic barrels. Some are empty though and he asks, “excuse me, sir, how much water can this barrel hold?” “About 50 liters, son.” “Wow!” He thought. “So if you caught rainwater in this barrel, you could probably fill hundreds of Sohat Bottles.” “True,” the man replied, “this big tank here can hold 1,000 liters, son. It is piped from the municipality, and I bet it would fill thousands of small Sohat bottles.” The boy asked, “and how much do you pay for all this water then?” “250,000 Liras a year,” the old man says. “That’s nothing! Has water no value?” Gregor replies. The old man suggests to Gregor, “what you pay for when you buy a bottle is the process, the materials, the container that is holding your water, the journey your container goes through to reach you. What if your rooftop became a container, or the ground, or the whole city?” “Then the value of the volume of thousands of small bottles will disappear” Gregor said. “The city can be worth millions of small water bottles, but we don’t have to pay the price.” 134


Below, Maissa Naim.


Above, Firas Abou Fakher; opposite, Dina Mahmoud.


Below, Massa Ammouri; opposite, Nadine Al Harakeh; next, Ola Hariri.

Above, Rana Haddad; opposite, Roula Gholmieh.


Above, Sara Abu Saleh; opposite, Wassef Dabboucy.



Opposite and below, Yasmina Chami; next and last, Zeina Koreitem.


Garabed Kazanjian Oceans Campaigner Greenpeace Mediterranean Beirut Lebanon June 2, 2010

What is sustainability for Lebanon? What is sustainability for the developing world? When you have two groups of people, and one group are environmentalists, usually the debate is that the environmentalist group are looking to defend the environment at any cost and the other group are looking for profit and business opportunities. But my opinion is, and the opinion of Greenpeace as an organization, it’s not like that. If you want to conduct your business in a good way and if you want to get a profit for years and years to come then you have to sustain what you have in order for you to maintain an income. And that’s what the word sustainability is about. You may be requested to invest a bit more into your project to keep it sustainable, but that will feed back with a positive revenue into the coming generations.

I can give more tangible examples in addressing my field of work. In the case of fishermen in Lebanon we want to regulate the process so that we are catching as much fish as nature is able to replenish, we never tell the fishermen not to fish. They have families to feed, you can’t tell them to go without and die! However, you can maintain the fish and sustain the profession of fishing. You can even teach your children the profession so that it can continue for generations. But, if we go with the current system and in ten years when the fisheries collapse, what are you going to eat then? If we only could think one step ahead, that is what sustainability is. And it’s the same with the case of Blue Fin Tuna where we are working in the Mediterranean to preserve the species. Eighty percent of tuna caught in the Mediterranean is shipped to Japan and used as sushi and sashimi. The Japanese say it’s a part of their tradition and culture. We tell them the same thing, if you want to keep your traditions for generations to come, then save the species now. For me, if we want to attain sustainability as a community we have to get out of our very short sided economic mentality, which is very characteristic to Lebanon. We have to plan a more rigid, or more innovative way to sustain our economy. It applies to all professions that work on the coast. Divers want to keeping diving, but once the seafloor is bare no one will want to dive. All of the coastal reserves that have invested millions to make very posh resorts don’t even put in a small percentage of investment for a water treatment facility. Instead, they throw all their


waste water directly into the sea. It is these types of regulations addressing those activities that result from both a top-down and bottom-up strategy.

I think there should be a combination of efforts from both sides; the entrepreneurs should have an environmental consciousness, and the government should be there to enforce it. I can’t see how it can go only one way. Because if the people don’t have environmental consciousness then it would be very hard for the government to impose every single rule. However, on the other hand, we can’t expect everybody to be saints and go install a perfect environmental waste water scheme, you need the government to put things into control. In Lebanon, specifically, the 20 year civil war and the lack of order created this imbalance. Everybody was coming up with ways to make easy money. Now, 20 years after the civil war we are still with the same mentality. We don’t have long term planning. We don’t have much innovative thinking, except when it comes to making money. What are you currently working on?

What we are trying to do in Lebanon and in other countries around the Mediterranean is to establish a network of coastal marine reserves. Areas have been researched and feasibility studies have eventually identified biological hot spots of the ecologically important areas, such as spawning areas for commercial or endangered species or nursery areas for juvenile fish. The objective of this campaign is to create a network of healthy environments that can provide the marine environment a chance to rejuvenate itself. As it stands, the Lebanese fishery, and the Mediterranean fishery as a whole, is on a path to eventual collapse. There are a number of issues we are addressing. Due to several reasons we have a high influx of solid and toxic waste from land based sources that are going directly into the sea. The Mediterranean is a closed network and it takes around 100 years to renew itself. It has just two exits, the strait of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal. It’s a very closed environment and we keep dumping waste into it and that changes the quality of the environment a lot. 153

The second thing impacting the health of the Mediterranean Sea is over-fishing and destructive fishing methods. Lebanon has several problems when it comes to fishing. We have a large number of fisherman

and we have an almost total absence of fish monitoring. As it stands there are laws to regulate fishing, but they are not perfect and they need to be updated and modified. However, there is nobody even looking to enforce those laws. The Ministries that have the jurisdiction state they don’t have the capacity, financially or terms of human resources, to conduct monitoring and enforce the laws.

Chaotic urban coastal development is another obstacle. I think according to the numbers, around two-thirds of the Lebanese population reside on the coast. It means that more that 2 million individuals reside on a coast line of only 220 kilometers. That puts a great stress on the environment on several levels. One, in the absence of important infrastructure, like sewage water treatment facilities, all the waste created is being dumped into the sea. Two, with construction happening on the coast, you can barely identify an acre of land which has not been exploited. This is being done in an irregular way with easily attained building permits or bribes. As a result in Lebanon we rarely have public beaches, yet we have resorts up and down the coasts that don’t follow environmental standards. For instance, any project along coastal land, in theory, should go through an “environmental impact assessment” to determine whether you can carryout the project or not. This assessment looks at the impacts that construction will have on the coastal environment. Unfortunately, up to this point, that has never been done. Add all of these factors together and you have major destruction of the entire coastline, a major destruction of marine habitats, and as a result the whole eco-marine system is collapsing.

One very important aspect about our area, and the Levintine Basin, is that our coasts are a “nursery area” for a lot of important commercial fish, like anchovies, sardines, and some mackerel. Those species, the big adults, seasonally come to the Levintine Basin to spawn, and the juveniles are raised in those areas. After they reach a certain size they move back towards deeper waters. This area is not only important for Lebanese fisheries, but also important for the Mediterranean fisheries and marine life as a whole. By destroying those nurseries, which are in the coastal shallow waters, we are effecting the whole Mediterranean fisheries. The second important aspect given all of the social-political positions in the region is that the environment was never a priority. For instance, the budget of the Ministry of the Environment or the Ministry of Agriculture is just two or three percent of the government’s budget. And as such, there is little capacity for them to carry out big projects or to even develop policy to monitor the environment. I am not trying to justify, or


defend the Ministries, because for years and years, we didn’t even have a Ministry of the Environment, as it only started in 1993. However, since then it has been almost absent, without any regulations or serious work done on the ground. Add that to the lack of awareness within the population and the lack of an environmental education that is widespread and you have the reasons for getting us to where we are now in this environmental catastrophe. At the moment, within some Ministries of this current government, we do see some motivations to produce some serious work.

There still remains a lot to do and a lot of political problems that actually might be a bigger obstacle in front of the Ministries. For instance, the Ministry of the Environment is to declare five new Ministerial Decrees on June 5th, International Environment Day. One decree forces new coastal projects to go through an environmental impact assessment while another starts an auditing process for major companies and industries to audit the impact they are making on the environment. There is also one decree that relates to natural reserves, with the last one creating new limitations on rock quarries. So we are seeing some work on the ground, but, it’s still not enough. It still doesn’t suit the urgency of the situation. I think for me personally, the biggest challenge for the Lebanese society is to get the topic of the environment to a top priority where it becomes a national priority so that enough resources are provided for the environment. For that you need the cooperation of the whole government, not just one or two people.

And on a more social level, I think we do see the younger generation having environmental awareness and wanting to live in a more environmental way. However, that doesn’t apply to the whole population, in fact you see portions of the population which are the exact opposite. I would predict that we still need time, perhaps one or two more generations before we can see a population with enough numbers of environmentally conscious citizens to make a change. The million dollar question as they say, is would we even have enough time to preserve something. With the very rapid deterioration of the environment in Lebanon, and with the slow start to the environmental consciousness, will it be too late? Will there be nothing more to preserve? That is the question that I cannot answer. That we will have to wait for and see. What are the successful strategies in making a change?


Success stories in Lebanon are not that glamorous, however, we are seeing a change. We started our campaign of creating nature reserves three years ago. We named it the “Pathway to Recovery of the Coast.” The idea was quite new to politicians and new to the country. At the time when we went to talk to the politicians about marine reserves they would look at us like aliens, they looked at us like we were speaking Chinese.

With the wars and strict economic conditions you had happening in Lebanon, when you went to talk to the politicians about nature reserves, it would not be a priority, but would be the 899th item on the list. However, I am glad to see after three years, after constant lobbying and advocacy, we have reached a stage where we can go and talk to politicians and it’s not a weird idea anymore. They are now willing to discuss the environment and sit down at the same table with us and set out plans on how to move forward. We still have huge bureaucratic problems, but I think that is more or less within the whole government. We sometimes have problems when dealing with different political bodies, but at least we’re accomplishing the first step of introducing the idea and making it a feasible idea. Now we just have to carryout the projects, ratify them and implement them. In our specific case at the moment, we are quite close in getting Byblos established as a reserve. This may serve as the pilot project that we can extend along the entire coast. And the new Decrees coming out in the Ministry of the Environment may start help putting things into place. As it stands we only have a few areas that are still, more or less pristine, that can still function as a reserve along the Lebanese coast. Development is expanding up the coast with the increase of population and in probably a decade those pristine areas will be populated unless we don’t put the necessary laws in place. We will have nothing to save. What were your tactics in those three years of working with the Ministries?

Other than the regular work we do, giving lectures and workshops with fishermen, we also tried to combine the scientific community with the governmental bodies. We had a lot of meetings with politicians and we worked towards creating direct actions and activities to increase the environmental profile in the country. And we tried to take complete projects, because whatever we said, the response of the government officials would be that they don’t have enough capacity to work in it. In the case of Byblos, we had a scientific survey done in the area from a professor at AUB. He did some biodiversity surveys to highlight the importance of the area and why it needed to be preserved. Then we worked with lawyers to develop a draft decree of the site that the government could look at, make small modifications if they want , and sign on it. Then, once it’s ratified, they can move forward. What we were doing was saying: this is a problem, we did all the research, here it is in a complete developed package that we are presenting to just sign it. At that moment the political decision making was lacking and with our researched package you don’t have any excuses not to move forward with it. That is one way to corner the government to force things to happen. Basically, that is how we work.


It’s a lot of work, but your making great progress.


For me, as an oceans campaigner in Lebanon, I see all the catastrophes happening and how much work needs to be done. To be able to make any sense of it, the first reaction would be to go into a huge depression! You have tons of things to do and you don’t know where to start. However, if you keep on talking in abstract terms the probability that you will get somewhere is small. But, if you take very small projects and keep on pushing them and hope there will be other groups and other people to help, projects will materialize and environmental consciousness will increase gradually. As an NGO in Lebanon we are still only an NGO. We are not a government party. We have our international brand name which actually helps us, but in terms of financial capabilities we can’t compare to the government. The Greenpeace office in Lebanon is quite small and you can’t even compare it to other Greenpeace offices elsewhere. So what we can do is push the way forward with pioneering projects and see how it goes. It may fail, it may succeed, but you can only hope for the best.

Beirut River at Armenia Street bridge looking north towards Charles Helou Avenue, Jisr, Beirut.


“Go Green Go Marada” political billboard, Dora Highway.


“Sustainability is a lifestyle by itself. It is the process of living, thinking, acting and responding to our environment. It’s about re-thinking and re-interpreting our lives to improve its quality. As architects we are not merely creative thinkers; in fact we are one of the principal actors that shapes our environment, and thus the �inal decision is somehow in our hands. Bearing that in mind, we have to act responsibly towards our environment and its resources. We can address sustainability by building more ef�iciently, using sustainable/recyclable materials, but we will be neglecting one main aspect of sustainability, that of the usage. Buildings should teach its dwellers how to be sustainable each and every day. “ - Dima Atchan, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

“Stop Solidere” on the side of the St. Georges Hotel, the banner below reads: “This tourist landmark remains a witness to the war that destroyed it, and the victim of targeted attacks. How is this allowed to happen?” Ahmad Chaouqi Street, Minet Al Hosn, Beirut.


New residential towers, Minet al Hosn Street, Ain Mreisse, Beirut


Wassef Dabboucy

Architecture Student American University of Beirut May 27, 2010

What is sustainability for Lebanon? I think there are many aspects of sustainability. In Lebanon we have many problems with the infrastructure of electricity. We don’t have 24/7 electricity provided to everyone, with some areas being better served than others. I think that Lebanon has a lot of potential to be self-sufficient and not to rely upon the import of fuel and electricity. We have more than 300 days of sun, and in Germany they are building projects that produce more energy than they need, and they don’t even have as much sun as we do. So I think if we apply these techniques and decentralize the energy production and usage, we can export energy instead of import. That is one point.

The second point is water. Lebanon is known for its mountains and its cedar trees. Why? Because we have a lot of water. But the people here and the officials in the government don’t know how to handle this water. We have a lot of water runoff from the rain and the snows in the winter. Now we are seeing some water shortages, while we have a lot of water locally, it actually goes into the sewers and directly out to sea. People don’t know how to store it and use it wisely. Another issue are the materials used for construction. I don’t really know if it’s a good thing or not, but here we have concrete. We have quarries in the mountains and I am not going to talk about whether it is right or what mountains you can extract rocks from to make concrete. But, we export concrete to Syria and to neighboring countries because we have more than we need. From this point of view, we don’t have to import this basic material to construct buildings. So that is a sustainable thing concerning construction. The question in dealing with this is where do we get the rocks. We have mountain ranges that surround the Bakka valley. But, the people that actually extract the rocks and sell them should also take into consideration the mountains and the views. Maybe they can take sides that aren’t visible or hidden? Not get rocks out just wherever we have a mountain. There are a lot of people working in stone extraction, so there are people that are for these sites. While other are against it, or want to have them in specific areas, because they damage views and the touristic value. Right now Lebanon’s economy depends on tourism, and not so much on industry.


Energy, water and construction materials are big issues, but we also have a problem with waste. We have a problem in Burj Hammoud with waste and in Saida, because the waste is actually going into the sea and polluting the water and the fish ecosystem. During the 2006 war, the oil barrels next to the airport were hit and the spill stretched all the way to Turkey. And how do you see the sustainability movement growing?

We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a lot of awareness in Lebanon. First of all, we need awareness before going to the politicians and asking them to act. So organizations like the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC) and many other associations, the Green Line and the Blue Line for the sea, are important. These associations mainly work on awareness and they do some activities, like cleaning the coasts, the seaside, etc. And the LGBC is formed by professionals, engineers, mechanical engineers and architects, who are involved mainly in construction and the building laws. They are working on enforcing laws that deal with sustainability. And do you see anything that is preventing this, any challenges?


Yes, because if you want to make laws, you have to have something on the ground, with politicians or the representatives of the people. And here in Lebanon, if you want to do anything, there is corruption. So if you want to make laws, if you want to make a big project that is sustainable, you have to have contacts with politicians, and the politicians will have to find some benefit from it for themselves. So itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very difficult if we want to make things greener and more sustainable. That is a big obstacle.

Have you seen any events or organizations that have really been powerful forces in the sustainability movement? No, not yet. I mean if these organizations want to make their voices heard we should have by now heard something. Maybe advertisements on the TV, but there is nothing happening. Even when they do conferences and events, they want to target politicians and people that have some power. But in the end, they just go to the dinner or the conference and they eat. They say they want to be sustainable and then they forget about it. Do you see approaches that could bring on a greater sustainability in Lebanon?

If we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have this obstacle of corruption and the bribes that happen, there could be hope. That is just the main problem, we need rules, we need laws to be implemented and if these donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist we canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do anything. And in order to make laws, you have to have contacts with power to implement them. So that is the main key, Lebanon needs to be self-sufficient from all sides, from electricity, water, everything. Where would you like go after you graduate?

I am thinking of doing a Masters in Environmental Engineering. As an architect I can do simulations of energy loss and gain, I can design it to be sustainable. I would start with passive design strategies, and move into active energy systems when more energy is required. I want to do this.


View from Mir Majid Arslane Avenue towards the sea, Majidieh, Beirut.


“Sustainability is about endurability, �lexibility and ef�iciency.

Architects and designers have a very

important role to play in changing people’s lifestyles and behaviors in regards to sustainability. People are “predictably irrational” and very easily in�luenced by emotions, as well as rational criteria. Designers should target consumers while embedding and in�iltrating awareness. Architects and designers have the power to change the industry, by making ethical choices regarding materials, recycling etc...” - Zeina Koreitem, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

“Save Beirut Heritage” posters, Hamra, Beirut.


The remains of Holiday Inn, Suleiman Franjieh Boulevard, Minet Al Hosn, Beirut.


Renovation of the Museum and Urban Cultural Center, Damascus Avenue, Nasra, Beirut.


Omar Daouk Street, Minet Al Hosn, Beirut.


Rabih Shehayeb

Kodorat Engineering Projects Aley, Lebanon May 20, 2010

What is sustainability for Lebanon? Well, historically, sustainability was completely the inverse of what has been happening in Lebanon currently. There is nothing sustainable in this country. If you take the three main elements of sustainability that are typically considered; people, planet and profits, nothing is sustainable in these fields anymore. If you are familiar with what has been happening in politics, you can see how this has impacted a lot of the social conditions of people and their progress. This has impacted the economy a lot as well. I am an activist with an NGO, and sometimes I am touched by how hard we are on our environment. Basically, we have been messing up all aspects of sustainability in the country. But the positive thing is, we have a lot of NGO’s working here. I think we have 3,000 or 4,000 NGO’s in the country, not all of them are active, but we have lots of them. Most are advocating for environmental issues, environmental concerns and human rights. So the positive thing is that the people are trying to move into a better situation. The umbrella is called sustainability, but people are joining groups that support the environment or that support social programs. The biggest issue I think we have is the ruling parties and current policy, that is where all the clashes are happening. Some people think that they are doing good, and they have good intentions with their initiatives, but they are actually driving in the wrong direction.

For example, in Byblos, this week there is a big demonstration by Greenpeace. They are trying to make a conservation, a sea side preserve. They are asking that the government make the port a preserved area, not to be used by anyone, not even the fisherman. From an environmental point of view, this is a good initiative. But, from the social point of view, this is effecting the life of many people. So you may be thinking they are doing something good for the environment, but could you be doing something bad? We have a political party now call the Green Party. It’s educating people about green issues. I saw one presentation and the head of the party was discussing what they are working for, and, let’s just say, I don’t think I will be attending any future presentations from them! It’s the way that they think, and the approach that they have, the kind of thoughts that they have, that in reality completely against some aspects of


sustainability. We have a political party called The El-Marada Party. You can see their billboards now on the major highways. Their logo is green. They are saying “Go Green, Go Marada.” I am not sure how much they are doing for the environment, it’s a political party, politics have messed a lot with the social life of people, and now they are taking advantage of people seeking a green future. Don’t get me wrong, many people are interested in doing positive things, but they are sometimes doing it in the wrong way. The officials in politics should know better than that. So the environment is being used as a political tactic, how do you think people view this perspective of sustainability?

Well, lots of people really don’t understand what sustainability is. So you can say that I am working in sustainability, but they will not know what you are talking about. You will have to explain it to them. Some might be familiar with sustainable development, because this is a term that has been used, or abused, by many people here in the name of implementing some projects. They will understand that you are talking about a sustainable “project,” but no, it’s not a sustainable “development.” Sustainable development is the strategy, the application if you are working with sustainability.


The second issue is that when you explain to people the goals of sustainability, they’d say, “forget about it, it’s not really possible to take into consideration the social and environmental concerns in any project that you do.” So if someone is putting up a building, for example, and they have trees planted around their house, they will not hesitate before cutting them down. But, if they knew they were violating some law, then they would simply do construction on the weekends so no one is there to observe, or they will try to bribe the police. Historically, that is the way people have protected their rights. This is the case for a lot of people, especially if you are talking to people that are not involved with social work or people who have not gained education in some institute that cares about these issues. If this is not important to the minds of people, it’s really hard to get them to see the picture from where you see it.

Do you see a technique that might be effective in this economy, within this political context or this culture? Definitely the most effective way would be policy change. I am advocating for that to be the most effective thing, otherwise it would be a lot of wasted effort and time to get a small benefit in the end. The NGO’s can keep educating and sharing information with the public, but no one would be convinced of making changes unless there is policy change, especially in a country that doesn’t have a standard for anything. People still think they have to take things by force, because no one will protect them and no one will give it to them. They will try to take what is theirs and try to take a piece of what’s not theirs - because they might loose everything at one point. The only way to change that behavior is proper policy. But that causes another issue, and that is enforcing the policy, especially with lots of wasta, or bribes! You can have the proper policy, you can have the right people to implement it, but then, if you have some wasta, you can get away with anything. And lots of examples of that can be found in political figures that are abusing the land for their own profit. But, at least a strategy could be to put in some policy change.

Building codes for example, I think there should be some updates on that. I have had discussions with engineers and they have said there is nothing related to standards of thermal insulation, acoustical insulation, environmentally friendly construction or all of that. Waste management even, this doesn’t require a lot of things. Last weekend we were collecting garbage on the beaches of Tyre and there was a huge amount of waste. It’s not thrown by people, it’s actually thrown by dumps. The dumps located on the shoreline of course go back to the sea, and the sea sends it back to the beach. So you have to have a proper authority, at least to check how the waste is being handled. This is just one aspect of sustainability. There wouldn’t be just one strategy that would influence everything. Definitely you have to keep up with the education, especially for the young minds. I think some universities are having that as a part of their


curriculum. And speaking of this younger generation, it would be very hard to educate people who have already passed this stage – having fresh minds. The older generation have already lived in the country in its worst conditions, so they will not be convinced with what you are saying - at least most of them. What are your setbacks or obstacles in pursing green projects?

I think the diversity of Lebanese communities can sometimes be an issue. For every small community, they have their own problems, their own way of life, and their own way of being convinced. For some religious groups, if you just go to the religious leader and tell them this is the way things should be done, and he announces that to the community, then on the second day, people will change their behavior. In other areas, they follow the political leader and they don’t follow any religious leader. You will not have a strategy that will work everywhere. Even now we have strategies that don’t work in some places. Let me give you some examples. I am working with a group trying to ban smoking in public spaces. We would like to build some sort of lobby or group of NGO’s to synergize our efforts. A couple of the NGO’s have already prepared a law, very professionally, based on lots of documentation from other countries. We have really been fighting with the Ministers of Parliament to adopt it, or at least to set a proper time frame to study it and give us feedback, but we are getting lots of opposition from tobacco companies that are somehow influencing the Ministers of Parliament.


This is just one area where NGO’s are really fighting and it’s not a fair fight. You are fighting with no money and no publicity. We don’t even get the support sometimes of TV or radio because the media somehow is also influenced by the big spenders, the tobacco companies. This is just one place where we are trying to change the policy from the bottom up and it’s not really working. We are getting a lot of opposition. And the law that might be approved or adopted is actually a law that doesn’t protect the health of the people, it protects the concerns of the tobacco companies. So this is a typical example where people have done a lot of work to change things properly, but you are having opposition from the top.

Another thing that is gaining momentum is the use of plastic bags. I am starting to hate plastic bags big time. Maybe you have experienced this while shopping, even if you buy a small item, they give you a bag. If you buy five items they might give you three or four bags. If you try to tell them that, “No, I don’t need a bag,” They will say, “No, no, no, just take the bag, you have to take the bag, it’s a gift,” and he feels obliged to give you a bag. If you don’t take the bag, they ask, “why don’t you take the bag? I am trying to give you something more!” They feel insulted or they feel something is wrong. “No really, I want to give you the bag!”

These people, what can you explain to them in just two or three minutes? You can say, “this is not good for the environment, I am not taking bags.” I think even in the States, if you take a bag, people will look at you and harass you. “Where is your bag? Why didn’t you bring your bag here?” Right? Isn’t that true in places like San Francisco? In Europe you have to buy a bag. So again this is a bottom-up strategy trying to change the mindsets of people. It’s a completely different mentality. I don’t think that it’s about education, but it’s about culture and you have to do a lot of change to turn around culture. It’s good that a lot of people travel abroad and they bring back new habits, some good habits and good mentalities. The ironic thing is while we were collecting trash and plastic bags on the beaches of Tyre, we had run out of bags. A friend went to a super market to buy bags and he spent 5,000 Liras buying plastic bags, and the guy selling him the bags wanted to put the bags in a plastic bag. And my friend said, “no, no, no, I don’t want plastic bags!” The cashier was stunned, “You have spent like three dollars buying my plastic bags and you don’t want this one for free?” It’s a lot of ironies. It’s not easy.

In the Gulf they are making serious efforts, spending a lot of money on green building and developing their own codes. I am getting a lot of emails for different environmental summits that are happening in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. They are doing major solar farms for energy and of course Masdar in Abu Dhabi. There are serious efforts being made in the Gulf. They have the luxury of money and they have policy control that can be done and no one can oppose that. Ironically, I am sure that it’s even Lebanese professionals that are doing a lot of that implementation and policy change, but, they can’t do it here in their own country.


Vacant storefront, near Omar Daouk Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sustainability relates to an environmentally friendly way of life, where a person considers the resources he is using and how he uses them in order to have an enduring, comfortable life. In addition, sustainability addresses the various effects that the human being (as an individual and in community) has on his environment, considering each resource he is using and what he is transforming it into. The architect addresses this issue by building efďż˝iciently: taking into consideration the energy used in his design (consumed by the user and the construction) and being climate responsive to minimize the use of electricity and water. Another part considers the materials used and their embodied energy (extraction, manufacture, execution, and disposal). Regarding comfort and energy a design has a macro impact and micro impact on its surrounding. From this point, it also relates not only to the material, construction and energy used in the building but to various other factors such as economical, ecological, biological, political.... - Massa Ammouri, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Construction site and saint house, Michel Bustros (Accaoui Rise) Street, Mar Nicolas, Beirut.




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Signage for upcoming development projects, Clemenceau, Beirut.


Construction site, Weygand Street, Nejmeh, Beirut.


Construction site, Ibn Sina Street, Ain Mreisse, Beirut.


Karim Moussawer

Principal Architect, Paralax Beirut, Lebanon May 5, 2010

What is sustainability in the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? Well, definitely Lebanon is an underdeveloped country, whether people like to admit it or not, but you have to be very subjective. If you’re trying to become more of a “developed country” but it is taking you too much time, I think there is a problem. It means that you are not developing in the right direction.

I think Lebanon is not a fast follower. It takes Lebanon a good thirty years to catch up. So, it’s either you’re an originator (you come up with a concept, the idea or the policy) or you have the fast followers. - and we are definitely not even fast followers. A lot of people would use the war as an excuse, but for a lot of people, you can’t use it anymore because the war was more than 15 years ago. People will argue that after those 15 years of war, we are not developing in the right direction, with political problems we see up until today. Still, there is no excuse for not being curious enough to seek new ways of better living or draft new laws or strategies for the environment. So, a lot of the blame goes to the political system which is very corrupt. If you take Lebanon as an example, we have a huge capability of investing in wind power, a natural resource. But everything seems to face some political barrier. It’s either that the politicians want to have a chunk of that cake or it’s a matter of focusing on elections. It just seems that the political wheel is just turning in circles - vicious circles - that you just can’t get out of. The second thing is that there is zero public awareness of sustainability. I don’t think people know what sustainability really is, and I am talking about regular people, not people seeking their PhD’s. So the concept itself doesn’t exist, and I think the government and the law makers have to work on something to just raise the awareness. However, right now all the efforts are happening on the private level and not on the public one. I don’t think this is enough. The only thing that is coming out for the good of sustainability is what the individuals are doing: young entrepreneurs, architects, school teachers, university teachers. This is with whom the awareness is starting. I don’t think there is anything related in terms of a greater public momentum, and I think that is the major problem we are facing.


In terms of the advancement of sustainability, honestly, it’s not looking good. You see a lot of contradictions, a LOT of contradictions. For example, major developers will show up with plans for a ‘sustainable’ project, but basically they have no clue as to what sustainability is. Maybe if you just color it green, that is it? It seems that the only way out is through the public, but really people have lost confidence in the public sector. Even electricity, if you want to change something you have to start with that. I am not going to go into details about the waste and the water pollution. I mean we are way, way, way behind. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but that is the reality. What of the state of sustainable design in your practice?

It’s really hard right now to convince our clients to go with solar power or to create a rainwater treatment plan. It places us in an awkward position, where the focus on the project gets shifted. Sometimes you get blamed for not pursuing the direction the client wants to take - that you have an idea taken from the West and are trying to apply it here, and it doesn’t apply.

We are working on a residential development on the outskirts of Beirut. The site is full of nice pine trees. We did our best to integrate the building with the environment and to not cut a single tree, but instead, worked to transplant the affected pine trees. However, we have a competitor on the project, and it ended up that the other architect completely took all the trees out and planned a larger number of buildings. And what is the advantage? He got more square meters to build. You get to a point where you are by yourself. In reality, we are not doing much in terms of pushing a green agenda. All we are doing is maintaining the environment that we have. I mean this is really the level of sustainability we are dealing with. It’s about first preserving or keeping what we have. Lebanon was known as having a huge area of forest and it’s all going away now. We are trying to keep it preserved, and even with this we are struggling. Face the facts: What we see is a reality of what peoples’ interest are - what developers’ interests are - and this comes out of no guidelines and no restrictions. We really fell behind these past 30 years. But do you see the potential? Does Lebanon have an opportunity?


The sad part is having the potential but not being able to act on it. At this point I would like to start to define sustainability in its ‘first phase,’ as to utilize what we have or to take advantage of what we have first. The ‘second phase’ would include going into more advanced technologies. It’s too hard for us to do that now. It’s fine to go high-tech, but let’s use our resources, because we have a lot of them. I think this is how it should

start. We are very good at copying and pasting, and it’s often pasted in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you usually loose something instead of gaining something. It would be really sad not to start today to take advantage of the resources we have. If you look at the more arid countries, Saudi Arabia, etc, they also have a lot of potential. They may not have a lot of water, but they do have the capabilities - the means to invest in such a thing. Again, it all revolves back to the question of understanding what the danger is, or understanding the danger if we don’t act right now. We are not trying to compete with Germany or the States. There is a reason why they are more advanced and we should learn from them. The technology is available, the knowledge is available, all you have to do is get that knowledge, study it and then apply it on the local level. Looking outside of Lebanon, does sustainability have a greater meaning?

What it means? I don’t even think you can answer this question in developing countries. Because literally, it doesn’t mean anything to them yet. Of course, there is lots of potential, and geographically, we have a number of sunny days and how much potential that could give us in terms of solar energy. Are there any local examples that help to promote the message of sustainability?

One thing that I saw, is the Green Party. The Green Party is relatively new and they are working really hard to promote sustainability. Politics in Lebanon is about religion. The Green Party is trying to establish itself as a pure Green Party as it’s known around the world. I really wish them good luck. They have a long way to go, especially to go through the struggles that are currently facing the government. They have a lot of interesting projects going on. For example, what they have done for the Beirut River is pretty nice. We don’t want to judge it from an architectural standpoint, but these guys deserve a lot of credit for putting effort into the communities that are along this waterway. To take a site, a very famous site, that is left over and looking like a dumpster, and they are envisioning to revive it by creating a lot of public space and parks.

Another push would be from the schooling system and the universities and how deep they are going into sustainability. Other than these institutions, you are left with a few design offices that are doing work in the area of sustainability. The UN has some programs, such as non-profit projects or studies, but they are always faced with financial problems and political barriers. It’s really hard to act freely within the limits.


Urban chickens near the Chatila Mosque, Manara, Beirut.


Sustainability is not just the three Râ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (Reuse, Recycle and Reduce). Sustainability





endure. It is a way of thinking with humbleness, thinking about the bene�its of other people that are living on this ecosystem like you and the future of the people. - Sara Abu Saleh, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009

Olive harvesting, November 2009, Beino, Akkar


Souk el Tayeb, Saturday morning farmers market, George Haddah Street, Saifi Village, Beirut.


Kamal Mouzawak and Christina Codsi Souk el Tayeb Beirut, Lebanon May 19, 2010

What is sustainability for the Developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? Kamal: People saying that sustainability is investing in two solar panels and selling a building as green is a completely fake idea. This thinking caught up in Dubai two years ago and it caught up in Lebanon this year. Introducing a stupid, useless element like one solar panel and the building is considered sustainable? How is it sustainable? How much do you pay your workers? Where do you get your workers from? All of these things matter. An example of sustainability is a piece of land that practices crop rotation. It’s organic, because the land amends itself with worms, natural chemical and physical reactions, being nurtured and giving life at the same time. It’s a whole cycle, the earth nurtures the plant and then the plant nurtures you. This is the idea of sustainability. How can we take from life and at the same time give back again and again? First of all we have to define what is it that we are taking. Today, it’s an ‘all that you want to take’ mentality, and it’s just translated into figures. However, do you just want to take economy and figures, or do you want to take aesthetics into account too? We have to learn to want something more than just economical figures. You need to take into account things that grow in time, things that are built in time. This is just one thing, the other is what do you give back. Christine: Like to the community.

Kamal: Giving back on many levels. Like charities for example, what are you giving back to the community, the environment and the country? It’s bringing this ‘ecosystem’ thinking back into our lives. You know what this ecosystem is? You eat, and you shit, right? Your shit is nutrients for the earth, right? When we die we are supposed to go back as nutrients for the land. This land is supposed to then nurture a tree. The tree, at the end of its life, dies as well, to be transformed into compost and to re-nurture the land again. Now this is an ecosystem. It is how to be fair in life. I came across micro-biotics, the practice is composed of seven levels: enlightenment, wisdom, etc. The highest level, the seventh, is being fair. Being fair is taking from life and giving back to life. For example, maybe you kill someone, it’s not about your action, it’s about what you did, was it fair or not?


For me, sustainability is about how to be fair. First of all, you need to define your priorities. Get off this stupid idea of putting two more solar panels up. Are they installing two solar panels just to market the building? They don’t give a shit about sustainability. The solar panel and the environment, it’s a trend today. I don’t see anyone really knowing what it’s about, they just want to sell the building. I am not a religious person, but I believe in life. Take this food that we offer here at our restaurant. This is fuel and life for us. Where does this come from? It comes from a seed and this power of life always amazes me, this is definitely my drive. Like what makes the seasons change, the same pattern, occurring unbelievably for trillions of years. On and on and on and on. Everyday, the sun will be here at the same time, running a specific cycle, yearly. The next year its going to be the same, the same. Right, what are peoples real intentions? Are they going with a natural model or simply green washing… Kamal: A bank is green? Can you tell me what that means? You’re not sorting your paper, you’re not recycling, you didn’t even change the use of your air conditioning system. They just want to put a tag line up. If I am curious and questioning this, I ask these guys to explain this to me.

Christine: It’s also important with sustainability to address what impact you are making on others. You can destroy a piece of land but what’s the effect on the population that’s living on this land? You can begin to sustain life by having a new state of mind where you don’t destroy the planet. This is linked to everything you do and it has an effect on others. If I am doing the wrong or the right thing, what is the effect I am having on the other? If I cut a tree down, for example, what is the effect? We don’t think long term. We think short term. Kamal: It’s not just about this give and take. Sustainability is to understand that each and every action is not single, but a chain. 201

Christine: Exactly.

Kamal: A chain of actions, where you know it came from somewhere and you know it’s going somewhere to have an influence on something. It is all interconnected. We need to realize how it is a part of a chain, not only stand alone actions. It came from something, and it is a stepping stone to many other things. How does Tawlet and Souk el Tayeb address the issue of sustainability?

Christine: It’s a way of thinking. Opening a restaurant with a different cook everyday doesn’t make business sense. We are trying to think outside the box. I come from a consulting business background. Kamal is my partner, so there are two of us in this venture. Kamal is the founder of Souk el Tayeb and he comes from a more rural background with his family cultivating lands for generations. He has experience in design, so he’s the creative, innovative thinker, while I come from a more traditional line of work. But in the end, I realize from a business perspective, you don’t have to be “business as usual” to make it work. In today’s world, you have to think differently if you want to sustain the planet. If we keep on doing the same thing, it’s going to disappear. We can do things differently, and it can create results. We tried to identify the main environmental issues affecting Lebanon. Our agricultural lands are disappearing and not as many people are cultivating it. Years ago, this was totally different. However, people from the villages are relocating to the city and rural jobs have decreased. Now local products are in competition with imported products. Traditional food and recipes are disappearing. These are the things that we are working on. Tawlet and Souk el Tayeb are the vehicles to bring a different perspective to these issues. It’s not giving money to an NGO working in the Bekaa and the project gets done. For us the most important thing is creating something that is to be sustained in time. Why do we call it sustainability? It has a timeline, its in a rotation and not something you do only one time. So a sustainable project for us is something that lasts, helping to grow the local based initiatives. This is a different perspective on the current issue. Why start with a farmers market?

When Souk el Tayeb started in 2004, there was one person acting out of his own love of farmers and their


products and traditions. He brought two or three farmers together and asked them to bring their beautiful products together to share them with the city. He wanted to let people in the city know that people in the Akkar can grow beautiful apples or oranges. That is how it all started. At that time there wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even the term â&#x20AC;&#x153;organic.â&#x20AC;?

People started to get interested. It was not just about buying an apple. Take the example of a farmer from the Akkar, and this is a true story: This farmer was poor with ten or twelve kids and had not the resource to distribute his produce and thus left most of his land uncultivated, but with the start of the Market, you had a demand, and with apples and other products, and you can do something, you can build on it. And now six years later the farmer is quite successful. He has his kids working with him. He even has a brand. Recently he got organic certification for his produce. Now there are many people in his village that are working with him. This is a success story of how we are keeping people on their land. I think this is part of sustainable development, avoiding the migration of people from one place to another and instead, keeping the traditions alive.


Souk el Tayeb started with three or four producers, and now we are sixty after only five years. It started with farmers talking to other farmers. Now we are at the forefront of the movement, the recipients of the Arab Social Innovators grant. This program selects two or three representatives from Arab countries who have brought innovative solutions to tackle social issues. From Lebanon two people were selected. There was Kamal from Souk el Tayeb and Paul Abi Rached with T.E.R.R.E Liban, an NGO that works on combating environmental issue through singing. With this grant we received technical support and participated in workshops in the US with other social innovators working to solve local, social issues. We showcased Souk el Tayeb as an example that is sustainable. It helps people develop and produce something useful for the whole community.

What is the evolution of Souk el Tayeb? Christine: I think its important to mention that Souk el Tayeb has created a direct link between the producer and the end consumer. So it’s not just about going to the supermarket where you buy your stuff and put it in the cart. When you go to buy from a farmer, like at Souk el Tayeb, you can ask what they have that’s in season - beautiful leeks and nice spinach. And this is the interaction between the customer and the farmer. The customer becomes faithful to several producers and it creates a special link. It’s not a brand name, it’s a person. You see this guy your buying from and he’s the one that has the garden. Or see the woman that prepares the jams and she can explain to you how she makes it. That link between the customer and the farmer is very important, creating awareness at the level of the consumer. The consumer knows what they are eating, they know who is producing it. This is our local source of labor. And our farmers have found a great opportunity now to distribute their products, and this is very important, however, it’s not enough. They tell you, OK, I only come on Saturday, how is this sustainable?

This is why we started different projects within Souk el Tayeb, increasing the opportunities for farmers to grow their businesses. We created something called Food and Feast. The idea of Souk el Tayeb was able to bring the producer from their rural farms to the urban city, like from the Akkar to Beirut. In Food and Feast, it’s the opposite. For one day we invite the Lebanese citizens to come and visit a farmer to celebrate the traditions of these villages. We create a small market increasing the number of opportunities for the producers to sell. These “Food and Feast” events have been done for the past three years with support of the UNDP and the Ministry of Tourism. We are a not-for-profit, so we either work on projects with funders or we have to make it self-sustaining, like the Souk – but even that barely covers the expenses. 204

Can you tell us more about the “Eco Market” project. Christine: The Eco-Market, Insha-Allāh, is something we are currently working on. It’s the ultimate showcase of sustainability, not only in agriculture but also in architecture. We developed a prototype that is situated not within the city, but within an urbanized area in close proximity to neighborhoods. The whole structure is made of recycled material. It’s a place that combines all the work that we do: a permanent farmers market, a small kitchen coop, and demonstration projects for recycling (waste and compost) and a garden to showcase how to plant seeds properly. It’s a huge project and we have been working on this sending it to many different stakeholders that might be interested. It combines everything, from the farmers to the small shop to sell products, to the kitchen to the recycling. The whole infrastructure is a showcase of green building and architecture. Our other events are more regional ones, this one is centralized, combining everything. Any goals to having more Saturday markets?

Christine: We had worked on a market for Tripoli and it didn’t work. We opened for a few months and realized that outside of Beirut, most people either are from a village or are close to their village with their own means to fresh vegetables. In Tripoli, everything is close with produce coming directly from the mountains, so people were not interested. For people in Beirut, what we offer is an alternative solution to the supermarket, which was not the case in Tripoli or at least not yet. Fresh food is still accessible to them, on the contrary in Beirut, it’s not the case anymore.


Souk el Tayeb also offers a platform for community gathering. Many people go just to have a walk, to see something different. It’s an open-air space to meet other people that have the same way of thinking. It’s different things, its complex, but always what we have in mind is doing something that can sustain our land and culture.

How has this concept been received? Kamal: Don’t forget you are in a country where, for example, right behind you [Tawlet Cafe] probably twenty or thirty people have been buried. This was one of the war fronts between the Palestinian and Christian armies. So, priorities in this country are a bit different. After the war, even if we didn’t live the war, we have it in the back of our minds. We lived a conflict in 2006 and some lived it in 2008, and just to tell you, it is still more than fragile. You never know when things fall apart. So coming to talk to people about sustainability, they will tell you, “Umm, can we just finish our lunch without a bomb going off?”

Christine: We have been fueled by short term thinking for the last forty years. We were born with war, so this generation could never do a projection into the future. And even now if we have more optimism, you always have this tiny question mark in your head, what if tomorrow things let loose? What is the value of my action today, if tomorrow I have to lock myself up in my house. This is how people think.

Kamal: And on a more practical level too, we had our regional festival, “Food and Feast,” for three years now. And then for stupid reasons, like municipal elections, it can suffer. We create a relationship with the municipalities, but if you are president of the municipality now, you are kicked out in May. As a politician, you don’t want to build off of a project of your successor. So we can’t do anything before the elections. Now we wait, but we are trying to conduct the festival. Other than the security issues, there is the power of the governance we have to work with. Policies and governance can help, but this sounds like it can actually prevent your progress? Christine: I think we are very far from the ‘top-down’ approach to sustainability. But it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, maybe even if for the wrong reasons!


Kamal: The government does not exist in Lebanon. In Lebanon we are a conglomerate of groups, partitioned political groups, with the government even built by a coalition of these groups. Are we a church or are we a nation? A nation that is bigger than a religion or a confession. But we’re not. Why should the president be Maronite? Why can’t he be Lebanese! Because ‘Lebanese’ does not exist, it’s just a fake curtain that we hide behind. It does not exist. If it does exist, then let’s take off. In my opinion we shouldn’t even exist as a nation. We are hiding behind a unity that doesn’t exist. The country is divided inside peoples’ minds. Go to a person in the south and ask if they would buy a house in Jounie? They would never do it and vice-versa. Christine: This is a fact.

Kamal: Well, if this is a fact, then let’s be honest about it and say it clearly. Countries like Switzerland, for example, who are made up of different cultures can put things together and survive. So instead in Lebanon, we see the effort of non-profits taking on a role for change.

Christine: Small private interventions I would say, who are also working in their own bubble. It’s difficult to share, but we try to share with others as we don’t want to be a ghetto for green weird things. No, this is something for everyone. It is private NGO’s and small players that are doing these things. It’s difficult to bring other people with you into your efforts. What obstacles have you found in the work that you are doing?


Christine: The example that Kamal gave with the ‘Food and Feast’ is an obstacle. There is no policy in place to favor these efforts, so a small election can prevent you from achieving one of your activities. Or it’s lack of funding, wherein foreign funding probably exists but the local funding is difficult to get. In a greater perspective, in my opinion, Lebanon is quite lucky to even be able to do these things in comparison to other Arab countries. In Lebanon we are free.

But you are growing, you mentioned going from four to sixty farmers. Christine: Don’t forget that this is like any business case where you start small, and if it is successful, it’s due to supply and demand. Then it can grow like any business as long as it’s properly managed. But I think there is more awareness - an awareness within the customers. Kamal: That you helped create!

And how did you create that? Kamal: Just by existing.

Christine: Supply driven actually, we created the market. Maybe no one was aware of what a farmers market was before, and it worked. As well, if you tell someone that you have a cafe with a different cook and a different menu everyday, they will tell you it doesn’t make business sense. But it works here at Tawlet. Kamal: This is what I was talking about, being creative and thinking out of the box. Christine: As long as you offer sustainable quality to people. Kamal: To me it was problem solving through creativity. Christine: Exactly

Have you seen any other initiatives building sustainability? Kamal: In my opinion, it’s the emerging business models that must be looked for. That is how Souk el Tayeb


is quite unique. There are a thousand environmental NGO’s and there are a trillion businesses in Lebanon. But what was quite successful for us was creating a business with responsibility. It’s interesting, historically, people had to go to a boring, responsible project, buying into the philosophy to be socially responsible - just to do good somewhere. But here at Souk el Tayeb, it’s like Casa Blanca Restaurant meets Association for Forest Development and Conservation (AFDC.) You don’t go to AFDC because its nice, you go because its good. There are two columns - nice and good. The ‘good’ things are socially responsible and environmentally sound, but they are not income generating. Instead, they just know how to write proposals and return for the money when they use it all up. In the other column, the ‘nice’ projects, are like income generating stores with perfect business models. They do what they do perfectly and they have zero responsibility. So why not seize people that know how to become income generating, the ‘nice’ guys, with these people who learned to be a little bit more responsible, the ‘good’ guys, and merge them together. In my opinion, this is the way we have to look at the world in the future. Stop being the nun, stop being the wolf and break this pattern. And you are keeping that balance?

Kamal: Are we sitting at this cafe now? Are we paying salary to people monthly? To me this is a better business model and one to be proud of. Why did we do it? We did it for pleasure, sometimes you have to spoil yourself with aesthetics. However, we source our goods from local producers as much as possible and we serve 80% organic products. Christine: Because it can’t just be organic, but local. It doesn’t serve the purpose if it’s organic from China or Japan.

Kamal: Local, organic directly from the producers. So then, is this ‘good’ or ‘nice?’ This is what I am proud of, it’s the proof. It’s a challenge and a solution, this is why I am so happy about it. Why do you think this concept will grow in Lebanon?


Kamal: Because it’s part of our tradition.

New restaurant offering â&#x20AC;&#x153;environmentally respectfulâ&#x20AC;? food, Hamra Street, Hamra, Beirut.


“Death of a language: Do not kill your language” placed with a cut-out Arabic letter for a hard ‘T’. Recent campaigns have begun to protect and improve Arabic language use in response to the growing use of French and English in most youth circles. Bliss Street, Jamia, Beirut.


Al Amine Mosque at Christmas, December 2009. Bechara al Khoury Street, Nejmeh, Beirut


Construction site for residential tower, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


Lana Salman and Tara Mahfoud

Issam Fares Institute American University of Beirut May 18, 2010

What is sustainability in the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? Tara Mahfoud (TM): Those are two really big questions. From the perspective of the (Palestinian) camps there is no sense of sustainability in the implemented projects because most of the actors are either UN agencies or foreign governments working through NGO’s. They usually come with very short term projects of two years or three years and then they switch to something else. So the ideas keep changing, the projects keep changing and the money keeps jumping around from area to area. Another problem given is the ‘division of labor’ created, with groups taking care of only this or that issue at the camps. If your specialty is working on improving infrastructure, then you do that for the next 30 or 40 years. People who are working on education work on just education. And with the UN, the expertise keeps changing with people rotating positions, so no one really knows what happened before so there is nothing to build on. Lately the PLO has tried to put a plan together and to propose it to the Lebanese government through the Lebanese-Palestinian dialog committee that was set up in 2005 to take care of matters within the Palestinian camps. But even then, they don’t have the approval of all the different factions. They can agree on some issues, like the issue of rights, but they can’t agree on education and other sensitive issues like firearms. There is an attempt at a structure, but nothing has materialized. And what sort of work is IFI (Issam Fares Institute) doing in light of this?

TM: Currently at the IFI Sari Hanafi, an Associate Professor at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at AUB, has been working on this issue of governance within the camps addressing the issue of who actually governs them. Because that has a direct impact on how things are run and how services are divided. Of course, it’s not very clear and I think that’s indicative of Lebanon as a whole. You’re not really sure who is supposed to be doing what, and who to hold accountable for what.

Hanafi’s research is to study the Popular Committees. Popular Committees play the role of the Municipality in the camps, but they are very corrupt. Sometimes a camp can even have two Popular Committees. We are trying to help these committees to create a central authority within the camps, so there isn’t this power sharing or grasping for power all the time. Hanafi outlined a model that has a decentralized authority


serving as a focal point between the camp and the surrounding areas. I think that is what can be explained as a sustainable model, because the power is centralized, the methods for collaboration are clear and the roles are defined. You have the structure and the rest will follow.

Lana Salman (LS): I coordinate a program at IFI that links research, advocacy and public policy. From that perspective, I don’t think people really understand the concept of what we mean by sustainability. For example, if I use paper on both sides is this being sustainable? If I unplug my phone charger overnight, is this sustainable? Within the government there is Hariri making pledges that by 2012 Lebanon will have 12% of its energy needs provided by renewable resources. No one knows how or why he decided to do this, no one even knows if it’s on the agenda to begin with. So in terms of policy, it’s not a priority because people don’t relate to the concept of sustainability as a priority. At the Institute, we are always saying a policy will become a priority when people change their discourse about it. So when people stop saying that being sustainable is “writing on both sides of the paper,” then you will see a case of real policy change regarding sustainability. Are the efforts of the non-profit sector enough?

I personally think that this whole issue of personal initiatives, like unpluging your phone and writing on both sides of the paper is useless without a greater implementation at an institutional level. Unless all of AUB recycles, it doesn’t matter if I recycle. In fact, unless Lebanon has specific recycling centers, it doesn’t really matter.


Caring about the environment and how we handle solid waste has always been the work of NGO’s in Lebanon. Lebanon has a very strong environmental NGO sector but it’s never been framed in terms of “sustainability.” People would say that they protect the environment, but they wouldn’t say they are trying to be sustainable. It’s only been recently that people started framing it as “sustainability,” and that is probably to attract donor funding. I think sustainability is a very elitist concept, at least in this part of the world. For example, my fiance who works in an architecture office told me architects were cutting their scrap paper into small pieces to use as note pads - and for them this was being sustainable. It’s just all really useless without an intervention at the institutional level.

I think for the concept of sustainability to be understood, people need to have in their mind the separation of what is public and what is private. For example, the air is a shared resource, a public resource. And if you pollute it through your own personal actions, you are affecting everybody while you personally benefit. There is no understanding of this concept due do poor governance and how things are currently handled. I think it’s all linked to the behavior, attitudes and systems of who abides by who. People are trying to solve problems on their own and collectively in their own small communities, but it’s not occurring at a national level. So everybody ends up doing their small initiative that doesn’t lead anywhere because nothing is coordinated. There is no understanding of what really is our “common” to protect. It’s a very broad subject to tackle.

TM:It’s what sustainability has become now. It’s become everything, everything is sustainable if you want to frame it that way and it’s just becomes a selling point. It has been added by every single NGO and every single academic to get funding. But I don’t know how it became that way. Because what does sustainability really mean? Sustainability in my eyes refers to something that maintains itself. It’s taking issues identified by the community and addressing change with the community being the ones to apply it and keep it going.

LS: I think it’s rooted with environmental concerns, but why it spread to touch every part affecting your life, I don’t understand. And people are not keeping up with it, just like you internalize something like security, you also come to internalize the discourse about sustainability, all without actually practicing it.

I am fascinated by this example. A few years ago I went to Cairo. I was volunteering in an informal settlement called Hay el Zabaleen. This is a huge informal settlement of garbage collectors in Cairo. These are people who are born and raised in an area where they collect garbage for a living. But the whole informal settlement has become a mini-town, or in fact, it could be considered a factory. If you walk around, there is garbage piled up and down the streets. People bring garbage in and people take garbage out - everyday. And if you read about this phenomenon in academic literature, it tells you that this is the most “sustainable” garbage collection strategy that Cairo can have, because these people have become more efficient in sorting than any automated system could. And this activity has become historically rooted. Several generations of people have collected garbage, passing it on to their children. And there are monopolies that people have over


certain neighborhoods wherein you can become richer if you collect garbage from a wealthy neighborhood. Garbage matters if you are poor. But you have to wonder, is this really sustainable? If you are talking about a whole community, it becomes very difficult to judge these things. Yes, they are benefiting the city, because really, Cairo would be much worse off, but does that make it OK? What about hygiene and the communities health? Nothing is mentioned about this when you read these articles, but it becomes very difficult to judge then, what sustainability is and for whom? TM: For whom and for what?

LS: I am always fascinated by this. I was thinking on my visit, how are people living here? How can the authorities allow people to live in these conditions. And when I talked to people about this they said the community is very happy and that this was a very sustainable model. It’s interesting if you want to take a look at the translation of the word sustainability into Arabic, al-tanmiya al-mustadama (sustainable growth). It is an interesting construction of the word. The word was not used before the concept of sustainability became so powerful. It was sort of revived. It’s not that the word didn’t exists, but retrieved and coined, “this is the word we will start using now.” It was reintroduced into the language. The term ‘sustainability’ risks being abused. Things become ”greenwashed.”


TM: Which is why it would be interesting to look at how the use of ‘sustainability’ came to the position that it is now. Who was pushing it? Why was it being pushed and what was it being pushed for? It’s the same with any developmental trend, you always get ideas coming to the forefront. Let’s take ‘human

rights’ as an example. Yes, human rights are good for everyone, but what do you mean by human rights? Everyone’s understanding is completely different. But things get pushed to the top and that effects the whole discourse of development with, suddenly, all of the funding focused on that one issue. I don’t know if it’s pressure happening from the top-down, because a lot of these things are promoted from the bottom-up. Sustainability and human rights are promoted by civil society with the message reaching the top, but then it gets completely transformed into something else. LS: There is a lot of “free-writing” with the concept. Even if you are not into sustainability, you use the concept for your own goals. I think there is profit making behind it. I was working on a paper regarding renewable verses nuclear energy in North Africa. And there is a huge project that makes use of Africa’s sunlight, transforming it into energy and exporting it to Europe - using, of course, Europe’s technologies. If you read about it, it is so clear that what Europe wants is to sell its technology to abide by their own climatechange initiatives. This concept of sustainability is changing relationships on a transnational level. If this program called ‘Desertec’ is ever implemented, definitely the power would shift from an oil-based industry to just another industry controlling a source of energy. It’s very important to trace these technologies, even if you can’t directly understand them.


Construction site, Ahmad Chaoqi (Adnan al Hakim) Street, Minet al Hosn, Beirut.


Picture with babies, left: “Guess our sect...and guess what awaits us?” Picture of man with axe, right: “Sectarianism,” Both posters are by The Student Syrian Social and Nationalist Party, Hamra, Beirut.


New residential and commercial towers, Marina, Solidere, Beirut.


Assignment 3: The Tools

ARCH 40: Beyond Green: Seeking Sustainability in the Built Environment

As a final step in the course, students summarized their research in ‘water in the urban environment’ by developing a design scenario. This final implementation was to provoke how the designer can address sustainability while demonstrating the required tools and techniques we need in seeking a greater sustainability in the built environment. The class as a whole had uncovered the many layers of how water operates in the city. Through that investigation a number of realizations were uncovered with students drawing literal lines on maps to make new connections in the city, or arrows showing forces and colors highlighting needs or pressures within the infrastructure of water. As designers, they completed the course by suggesting how they could act within this system, interrupting or simply spatially illustrating the missed opportunities in the built environment. As a collective, the student work can be read as tools that designers have in making a greater impact on addressing sustainability within the practice. The projects that follow are summarized into three categories: Educational Opportunities, Intervening Events or Projects, and Policy Change and New Planning Strategies.


Educational Opportunities As realized early on in the course, educating the general public on the dire need for sustainable practices in the city and country at large was paramount. The following designs address education on a number of levels. From exposing our infrastructure to better understand how it works, to creating events that highlight our use of water, the following strategies reinforce the ability for design to inform a community as to how it uses its resources so that change can happen.


Raising the Infrastructure Maissa Naim “The first step for change is raising the consumer’s awareness. The infrastructure in Lebanon is messy and chaotic and we know that the government won’t act if no complaint is made. The public domain in Lebanon does not include the people in its activities and processes, and the information available to them from public issues and decisions remains very shallow knowledge. It is following this logic that I decided to “reveal the in-between” by designing my intervention by trying to link the water outlet at home back to its source. In redesigning this network, I have created a way that would make it visible to the public and encourage questioning in order for one to react to the current dysfunctional system. My intervention consists of selecting public areas in different regions of Beirut, and extruding the water infrastructure. The pipes are raised above ground in order to become visible to the people. These pipes when raised become transparent to reveal the water running through.” 224

Water Looping Nadine Al Harakeh â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Lebanon, little apprehension has been given to â&#x20AC;&#x153;looping water,â&#x20AC;? or in other words, the issue of recycling water. Accordingly, I recommend an educational/spatial intervention of using different circulation strategies to raise awareness to the passing citizens and tour groups in Lebanon. Thus, my intervention propels the issue of recycling water into the public eye and specifically to the Lebanese and to the tourists in Lebanon visiting the intervention. My intervention is located in Chekka. It is disseminated into two parts, one which is located in the Chekka highway tunnel, linked to the other intervention, which connects the mountain with the sea through bridges. Thereby, a number or realizations will be exposed in order to draw the connection of water with the mountains and hence shedding light on the needs and pressures of the missed opportunities. 225

Tube-Way Map Karine Yassine “Somehow, when the issue of water is discussed, people are either fully dedicated to it or simply careless. In my opinion, the best way to get interest is by placing water in a different context. Even though we have street names in Beirut, we rarely use them or even know them. This project overlaps these two city experiences by creating a mapping of the city through water as a ‘guidebook’ for walking in the city. The issue of water becomes a way-finding tool specific to the city of Beirut. The mapping would function along a color-coding system: First, each water pipe sticking out of an A/C unit would be of a certain color depending on the street it is on. Second, on the map, each street will be given an appropriated color. This gesture will help to give directions or locate yourself by following the street or tube colors. Third, this process invites you to map your own findings on the water pipes you encounter. And finally, map owners could compare their own personal maps and personal legends with others to find the differences. This interactive mapping enhances participatory action of seeing water in our environment.” 226

Blue Tourism - On the Path of Adonis Anthony El Khoury â&#x20AC;&#x153;My proposition is the creation of an eco-touristic trip along the path of river, creating new programmatic interventions that bring awareness to both the lead role that water plays in our country and to the threat that is constantly facing. This eco-tourism plan will be along the track of the wealthiest river in Lebanon - in both history and natural sites: Nahr Ibrahim, also known as the river of Adonis. During an expedition along the main sites of the river, tourists will enjoy a direct interaction with water in various ways: swimming, rafting, camping, etc. Visitors can visit the main attractions along the river, such as ruins and the beautiful wilderness, and on their way from one site to another, stop at local villages for catering (lunch at a restaurant, breakfast at a bakery) and hospitality (night in a local bed and breakfast).â&#x20AC;? 227

Water’s Night Rana Haddad “My intervention is not a system promoting a solution to economize and save water, but a call for awareness and engagement. Playfulness and fun should be key in conveying the message of sustainability to the youth. They will learn it faster since it won’t be associated with education. For the site of my intervention, I chose Gemayzeh, a street that becomes alive at night with all its restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. It is the trendiest place to go and the mostly visited by the younger generation. My intervention starts with locating the A/C units on a map and linking them together with fluorescent tubes so that they are visible during the night. Hence drops of water will fall into the tube and flow towards the lowest point, “the collection point”. A/C units from upper apartments could also be linked. In my intervention, the “water poles” or “collection points” are the places where water is collected in a container. Then, the small amount of recuperated water is used for cultural and artistic interventions on the street.” 228

Bottled Water, Bottled Value Yasmina Chami â&#x20AC;&#x153;The concept for the following intervention stems from the belief that in order to reach a more sustainable lifestyle, which is necessary if we are to really consider our resources and planet, an awareness should be implanted at the roots of our lifestyles, addressing our most unsustainable habits. Focusing on water, and its perception in our society, this design attempts to address the problem at its roots, at the point of the individualâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s consumption. This intervention is an awareness campaign, targeting the individual and their relationship with water in our environment, through the 500ml water bottle. The redesigned bottle raises awareness on three levels: its use, its cost, and its source.â&#x20AC;? 229

Intervening Events or Projects Design interventions that mediate the infrastructure of water developed in a number of ways. New programming at the source of extreme pollution created interesting additions to the country as a whole. Smaller scale products were also devised, reminding the common pedestrian or homeowner of the value water has in our environment.


220 KM of Missed Opportunities Dana Hamdan “This intervention would endorse fishing that faces the invasion of coastal high rise buildings that pollute the sea water. This project creates a new building typology, which thinks of buildings as ‘sea sponges,’ forces architects to provide a basin for sea water within their design. This basin should be equipped with technologies that guarantee proper water filtering, thus creating a healthy place for fish. In freeing the ground floor and dedicate them to fish-farming we’d be giving opportunities for fishermen, and providing a market for the dwellers of those towers, who would appreciate consuming healthy local fish.” The Introduction of an Aquaponic System Massa Ammouri “I propose to intervene on the Quaraoun Lake by integrating a structure bridging both sides of the mountains. It functions like a dam but adds agricultural activities operating through the use of aquaponics. The villagers can reach it by foot easily, connecting physically and socially the scattered villages through a new common point. The project literally bridges communities, encouraging people to work together.” 231


The Pit-Stop Mohammad A. Ramadan “I envision an intervention that creates “Pit-Stops” for the pedestrian by providing drinking water fountains and seating areas on streets. The Pit-Stop will not only provide drinking water, it will also provide water for irrigating planters along the sidewalk producing more green space in the city. Incorporating rain water collection beneath the sidewalk, this system will collect water for irrigating trees water fountains during the rainy season. The water fountains will be equipped with the necessary filters to render the collected rain water potable.” 233

The Superbottle Experiment Zeina Koreitem “This intervention spreads awareness through a product; a product that will make a change in people’s behaviors and understanding of their built environment. My proposal is a portable bottle, a Superbottle. This design is aimed at capturing consumers’ hearts and changing their drinking habits. It will revolutionize the way people carry water. The intent is to produce an object that will make it easier for everyone to do the right thing. In a city like Beirut where municipal tap water is not always reliable, incorporated filter system in the bottle is a must. It will have the ability to purify any local water (tap, rain, A/C drips...). Superbottle can be refilled anywhere anytime and from any source.” 234

Green Beat Roula Gholmieh â&#x20AC;&#x153;Green Beat is a simple waterproof music player that you install onto your shower pipe. It is equipped with a water sensor that reads the water pressure indicating your water use. This water pressure sensor device is directly connected to the music player software. The aim is to estimate according to the water flow an ecological shower duration. When you turn on your Green Beat, you can set your options for shower, bathing or other and chose your music playlist. Then you set the water pressure and temperature to your liking. Green Beat will automatically calculate proportionately the estimated time of your shower.â&#x20AC;? 235

The Water Jug Sara Abu Saleh â&#x20AC;&#x153;My intervention is a new water filtering system that can be implemented into existing households in Lebanon. The purpose of my intervention is to encourage the use of tap water, to end the era of unnecessary bottled water use. This modern system is not like any other filter. This sustainable new filter is a hybrid of the typical filter found in the market with the addition of a system that delivers hot filtered water. The system consists of a room temperature water filter and a hot water filter. These two systems are separate systems each having its own jug.â&#x20AC;? 236

Policy Change and New Planning Strategies The role of the designer to impact communities and entire regions blurs the lines between the role of architect and the role of the planner. While systems of governance, policy and codes ultimately dictate urban relationships, the following interventions elaborate on how design can encourage sustainable strategies. In the following designs, students reorganized water use for entire communities and envisioned new water policies for area industries.


PRESERVING OUR SEA Dara Dajani Daoudi â&#x20AC;&#x153;This intervention is divided into various operational changes for tour boats and the respective ports. It begins with creating an awareness program on tourist boats and ports through various medias, while addressing education with lectures explaining the environmental impact waste makes on the sea. The intervention asks the companies to rethink their current waste operations, by first dealing with the materials being distributed and used by the travelers on board a ship and proposing new waste prevention strategies. These new operations demands companies to exclude materials which are not recyclable while creating feasibility studies for recycling and transporting recyclables to gathering stations on land.â&#x20AC;? 238

Waste Art Dina Mahmoud â&#x20AC;&#x153;If stone factories started manufacturing earthenware clay such as Raku, it would have a positive effect on the watershed in a number of ways. The factories themselves would have less waste, and could generate more revenue from the sale of the clay. The powder that is currently dumped into the river in the form of gritty sludge is a perfect medium for clay production. This would decrease the pollution of the river, and in turn, the alkalinity of the soil. Perhaps the most important aspect of the production of clay is that it would introduce a new craft to the surrounding villages. The villagers could get involved in the process from the very beginning, perhaps even building a pottery studio as an annex to the factory.â&#x20AC;? 239

MACHINATION Firas Abov Fakher “This intervention approaches the realm of operational ‘surgery’ within a specific circle of production and consumption linked with the ‘suburban agriculture’ phenomenon that I identified in my research. I propose a system that allows landowners to communally invest in a ‘large hyper machine’ (a large area able to collect rain water effectively, treat grey water from the surrounding buildings and redistribute it). This machine would in fact be placed on empty land and serve as a central supplier of water, independent from water provided by the state and private companies, as is currently practices. This leads to a nodal water dispersal structure of off the grid networks with lots of ability for expansion.” 240

The Flow of Humanity Ola Hariri â&#x20AC;&#x153;A change in the pumping model and method is required for the Marjayoun valley. Instead of a centralized pumping unit, dual processing units should be applied on either side of the valley. The topography of the region ensures that many houses and urban settlements are located within the highest point of these hills, and downward onto the valley. By placing a pumping unit on the top of each hill, as with the image above, then efficient pumping and distribution of water will result. This intervention is an approach tailored specifically for the residents of the select area. In southern Lebanon, the residents are facing a wrath of political implications due to Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aggression. This plan suggests that these people, who have suffered so much, should not have to be cut off from a valuable source for life. They should not have to wait for the electricity to be present, and they should not have to endure water shortages.â&#x20AC;?


Revealing the Underground Dima Atchan “I propose an addition to our sewage and drainage systems at the scale of a building. The plan will not involve a single structure but it will include all the buildings in the area of the neighborhood. However, the intervention, at the scale of Ras el Nabeh will be founded in the underground of one common block where the drainage networks will be accessible both for black and grey water. Therefore, a Wastewater Treatment Plant and specifically Greywater Treatment Plant will be created at the underground level of a building block. Independent wastewater networks for blackwater and for greywater will each drain independently from of each single building within the Ras el Nabeh area and each specific network will be shed into one of the main networks of the area. The residual water will be a “treated greywater,” re-used as water for toilet flushing, laundry and vehicle washing, as well as for cooling water for air conditioning systems, or for irrigation for local gardens and yards.”



Artificial Water Spring Bassem Chahwan â&#x20AC;&#x153;The need of an alternative â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ein (water source) in small villages within the Bekaa is crucial, so this intervention implements a system that collects water from available sources, and then treats it for redistribution. As advanced technologies would be a complication, and where funds are not typically available, the system design is basic. The system will comprise of three main parts: water collection, water treatment, and water storage/ distribution.â&#x20AC;?


Construction site for “Landmark of Beirut” by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Al Amir Bachir Street, Bachoura, Beirut.


Istiklal (Elias Sarkis Boulevard) Street, Achrafieh, Beirut.


Existing Opportunities Sustainability for the developing world is constrained within urban systems that are typically less centralized than in developed countries, as demonstrated from the projects, interviews and imagery within. The tools and techniques of the designer then must become honed, to mediate the scarcity of materials and funding as well as the political constraints that bring many aspects of a project outside the realm of control. Instead, new strategies must be devised, strategies that are inherent within the context of the site in which they are working. The opportunity then, for new forms of sustainability that the developing world can share with the developed world is abundant. Sustainable design within the city, whether architectural, infrastructural or policy driven, comes from a keen sense of seeing the city. Mapping the city and the numerous systems it harbors is the key to seeking more efficient, affordable and transferable techniques for environmentally sensitive construction. Student work presented in this volume takes note of the excess capacity the city may hide through a variety of techniques and medias. Re-presenting the systems allows the students to manipulate flows, redirect movements and reconsider the “metabolism” of the cities many processes. Seeing the city and articulating the questions is a key tool in addressing new design solutions for our growing environmental challenges. The following images taken around the city of Beirut offer a glimpse at the numerous opportunities that are emerging from within the dynamic organism that is the city of Beirut.


How can infrastructure be sustainable in the developing world? Leapfrogging: Developing countries have an opportunity to avoid costly, inefficient and outdated infrastructures by adopting contemporary forms of technologies and techniques. The infrastructure of mobile phones and internet is just a start in avoiding many of Beirutâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s physical boundaries.


How can topography enhance sustainable operations? Go with the flow: Problem solving that is out of context with the site, misinforms the designer of the latent opportunities of integrated systems of support and compliance. Mapping the use and manipulation of urban systems in concert with the natural topography facilitates infrastructural processes with less natural disturbance.


How can the transportation network become centralized? Bottom up: Decentralized cities are still dependent on whole systems thinking, especially the ability to circumnavigate ones city. Investment heavy infrastructures like rail tend to be bogged down in financial limitations and politics. Reinforcing transportation through design and technology allows existing infrastructures to utilize their excess capacity.


How can the existing vernacular mediate the modern? Identity crisis: Countries on the heels of a destructive past akin progress with demolition, newness, and in many cases, the introduction of the ‘foreign.’ The embedded memory of a place scars a community’s sense of self as well as its future. Design can strategically enable a city’s renewal while facilitating a process of community rehabilitation.


How can the decentralization of power be sustainable? Small scale: The removal of authority in some sectors of civil society creates abuse, overlap, and in the case of energy, pollution and environmental degradation. Design has the ability to manipulate the scales of localized energy and explore existing opportunities for networked efficiencies.


How can existing construction typologies be sustainable? Business as usual: Private development and the encouraging economic trends are manipulated by a spectrum of forces; financial limitations, local codes and planning as well as global investment and speculation. Balancing client desires with buyers needs while keeping the environment in mind depends on the designerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to balance the forces of sustainability; ecology, economy and equity.


How can deconstruction be a source of sustainability? Life cycles: Death and rebirth are all inherent operations to a natural system. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the debilitation of a limited foresight that scars a process, disengaging its synchronicity with its local environment. Without the artificial mechanisms of subsidies, regulation and policy, design can implement new strategies of development, from construction to demolition.


Laklouk, Jabel Tannourine


Taanayel, The Bekaa Valley


Resources AFDC: Association for Forests, Development and Conservation

A non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1993 aiming to achieve sustainable conservation of natural resources, raise awareness and build capacities that contribute to the national efforts for better environmental management. Contact: Web:

CEDRO: Country Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Demonstration Project for the Recovery of Lebanon


Project started in 2007 with the objective to install 180 energy efficiency and renewable energy applications in public facilities throughout the country, ensure technology transfer, and ultimately create an enabling environment to adopt a national sustainable energy policy. Contact: Web:

Established in 2006, ‘the League of Independent Activists’ is a global league of independent environmental, social and cultural activists that support that seek to nurture others in order to achieve their goals. Contact: Web:

Ministry of the Environment Lebanon

Established in 1993, the Ministry works on legislation and offers workshops and seminars. Office library houses collection of education materials and training opportunities. Contact: Lina Yamout, Acting Head, Service of Environmental Guidance, +(961)-1-976555 Ext. 443 Web:

The Issam Fares Institute

In line with their aim to harness the policy-related research of AUB’s faculty, the IFI started the The Research and Policy Forum on Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World and is collecting faculty research centered on climate change. Contact: Sara El Choufi ( and Sarine Karajerjian ( Web:

Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation

A national organization affiliated with the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water. LCEC addresses end-use energy conservation and renewable energy at the national level. Contact: Web:

Lebanan Green Building Council

An NGO that provides resources for a sustainable built environment and promotes, spreads and helps implement high performance construction concepts that are environmentally responsible, healthy and profitable. Contact:, + (961) 1 841 065 Web:

Lebanese Solar Energy Society

Promotes the use of solar & renewable energy with consideration for the protection of the environment, energy saving, and the quality of life. Contact:, +961-1-85 30 47 Web:

MED-ENEC: Energy Efficiency in the Construction Sector in the Mediterranean

A regional project funded by the European Union. It aims to increase the use of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems in buildings in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries. Contact:, (+20 2) 24 18 15 78/9 Web:

Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Program


A project of the World Bank that conducts research on environmental damage cost assessment as an instrument to integrate environmental issues into economic and social development. Contact: Maria Sarraf at the METAP Secretariat, Web:

“At the beginning of the semester, I de�ined a sustainable building as a building that uses the least amount of energy during its construction and operation. However, I learned during the semester that sustainable architecture is not only about energy ef�icient buildings, it is about promoting a sustainable built environment. Architects can create this environment by conceiving design strategies that produce buildings at the ecological, economic and social level. Autonomy cannot be achieved at the three levels at once. This is why the architect should try to respond to the current needs, while giving tolerance for future enhancements, catering for future needs.” - Moh’D Abdullah Ramadan, ARCH 030 Beyond Green, Fall 2009 Lebanese flag at shoreline, The Corniche, Minet Al Hosn Street, Ain Mreisse, Beirut.


Profile for J. Matthew Thomas

Yearbook: Lebanon - Current States of Sustainability 2009-2010  

What is sustainability for the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? These were the leading questions for this year-long pro...

Yearbook: Lebanon - Current States of Sustainability 2009-2010  

What is sustainability for the developing world? What is sustainability for Lebanon? These were the leading questions for this year-long pro...