BEIRUT: The Lebanese government must work hard on introducing a law for green construction which would benefit the whole country including the economy, a leading expert said Wednesday.
“The government has to create awareness on the importance of green construction and one good step is to introduce a law for that purpose as part of the Lebanese construction law,” said Wissam Tawil, Member of Council in the Order of Engineers and Architects (OEA) in Beirut.
Tawil said the construction law in Lebanon has become too old and should be updated.
“The Order of Engineers has already prepared a draft law for green construction and it was adopted by the higher council for urban planning but it still needs to be approved by the parliament,” he told The Daily Star.
His remarks came on the sidelines of EcOrient 2014, an international conference on environmental technologies, sustainability and clean energy which took place at BIEL Wednesday.
Tawil said the OEA expects Parliament to pass the so-called “Mikati floor” or “green floor” legislation, a law whereby any project owner could build higher than current zoning regulations if conditions on green construction are met.
He added that one source of revenue for the government to finance the salary scale would be the Mikati floor, which requires the project owner to pay an additional fee to build it.
“We were hoping that if the salary scale gets approved by the government then our law will see the light,” he said. “On the other hand, if the government does not pass the salary scale then we would at least be on the right track to get it approved with some more efforts.”
Tawil said that green construction has so many benefits for the economy because it works to reduce energy consumption. “It also works on reducing water consumption because it imposes criteria for an efficient use of this resource,” he added.
Tawil said the Central Bank has started giving soft loans for projects that are aiming to get certifications in green construction.
“Part of the loan that is given for green construction would be exempted from interest rates,” he said.
Tawil also underlined the importance of raising awareness among people about green building.
“It needs time because it is a culture that you build from zero and many countries in the world were not aware of this but they have reached the time when green construction has become a prerequisite in major parts of their construction,” he said.
For his part, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk highlighted the most important achievements of his ministry over the past three months.
“We have managed to pass six laws pertaining to environmental protection, four environmental decrees, three environmental strategies and eight internal and international environmental governance laws in addition to 20 projects related to preserving the natural wealth of Lebanon,” he said.
Khaled Chehab, president of the OEA in Beirut, said that the order was working in coordination with all public departments, associations and institutions to raise awareness about green construction and working with the urban planning council to issue decrees that would impose the adoption of green buildings.
“We are also working on providing training for engineers under the supervision of experts in order to spread knowledge and development,” he said.
He added that the OEA was also working on setting the criteria for green buildings in addition to cooperating with real estate companies for them to adopt this concept.