Going Green in the West Bank
The U.S. government is spending $100 million over five years to construct environmentally and socially sustainable buildings in the Palestinian Territories through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The colorful Safeer Center, a West Bank child care program, was one of the first to open. Its energy-efficient insulation (visible through a small cutout), rainwater collection system and temperature-regulating window shades provide a healthy facility for more than 3,000 children.
Other projects include a school built to meet stringent third-party-verified “green” certification standards and a community center. These and others provide models for efficiency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the mostly imported energy is expensive.
At first, some occupants question maintenance costs, but “green” technology often uses simple systems and sometimes forgotten designs, such as Middle Eastern courtyards, which provide natural ventilation. Made of local materials, the buildings create jobs and healthier communities.
Six months after the Palestinian Child Care Society moved into the green Safeer Center in December 2010, electricity costs dropped by half and water usage by two-thirds, releasing money for programs, staff, computers and more.