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Story | Research
13 October 2021

QF explains the role that green buildings can play in promoting a greener way of life

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At Project Qatar 2021, QGBC launches booklet directed at sustainability experts with information that can be applied in real-world scenarios

Office employees' productivity, students' academic success, and patients' rehabilitation may all be accelerated if the facilities they operate in are environmentally friendly and sustainable, according to Ruba Hinnawi, a Technical Specialist at Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC).

When compared to other buildings, individuals exposed to sunlight and natural air in buildings constructed as green or environmentally-friendly enhance their productivity and preserve their health by up to 15 percent

Ruba Hinnawi

“When compared to other buildings, individuals exposed to sunlight and natural air in buildings constructed as green or environmentally-friendly enhance their productivity and preserve their health by up to 15 percent,” Hinnawi explained.

“We discovered through previous studies that buildings are one of the sectors that most affect or contribute to the climatic effects that we are seeing today, and as a result, there is a focus on the design and operation of buildings, as they play a large and important role in reducing the emergence of greenhouse gases and the occurrence of global warming, thus, individual and societal health and well-being are impacted by climate change.”

QGBC is part of the World Green Building Council global network whose goal is to share design principles that make spaces in buildings more energy efficient as well as rationalizing the use of water and other natural resources.

Hinnawi explained that our forefathers were environment-conscious and applied sustainable standards in their homes, saying: “In Qatar, our forefathers used to live in homes without cooling devices, and local materials were used in the construction of the houses. The houses were designed to allow the entry of air and sunlight through intelligent design of shapes, sizes and location of windows and doors.”

Even the spaces between buildings were designed to provide shaded passages between houses and encourage air movement, “but then we moved away from this concept after the emergence of the industrial revolution and the modern renaissance.”

Hinnawi said that as a result of Qatar's early twentieth-century architectural revolution there was a lot of interest in constructing structures that were ecologically friendly. “QGBC was founded in 2009 with the goal of promoting a sustainable culture among individuals, architects, and all construction and architectural design professionals by offering the required training to assist them in designing environmentally-friendly buildings.”

The goal of the green building idea was established not only to decrease the negative impact on the environment, but also to provide for the health and well-being of the residents of these buildings

Ruba Hinnawi

She said that the goal of the green building idea was established not only to decrease the negative impact on the environment, but also to provide for the health and well-being of the residents of these buildings, since we spend roughly 65 percent of our time inside our houses.

“Due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now sitting in homes for longer periods, and our homes have become the seat of work and study. Thus, the importance of green buildings, which allow for natural lighting, provide better air and appropriate temperatures, while also saving energy – an economically viable aspect for the users of these buildings.”

Hinnawi stated that the lack of awareness among individuals creates challenges to convince them to move from traditional buildings to sustainable buildings. Therefore, QGBC is based on three main pillars: spreading awareness, education and research.

We discovered that raising awareness among individuals about the concept of green buildings and sustainability encourages them to embrace this concept in their lives

Ruba Hinnawi

“We discovered that raising awareness among individuals about the concept of green buildings and sustainability encourages them to embrace this concept in their lives, and hence our role is to positively share the impact of these standards on the health and well-being of individuals, the environment, and the economy.”

Hinnawi hopes that people’s perceptions of the benefits of green buildings and its influence on their lives will inspire them to make educated decisions about their everyday routines, such as the foods they consume, the mode of transportation they use, among others. “Then, sustainability will become a way of life,” she said.

On the sidelines of Project Qatar 2021, QGBC launched a booklet titled Green Homes – Guide to Greener and Healthier Home directed to experts in this field, such as engineers, architects, and construction professionals, and even homeowners who have no architectural background who can apply some of the strategies from the booklet.

The importance of the booklet is that it includes all stages of construction – starting from the design phase to the rehabilitation phase of the building to make it environmentally-friendly. The booklet also includes the ideal method for choosing the appropriate site for the construction of the external structure of the building, the distribution of spaces inside, etc.

On the sidelines of Project Qatar 2021, Ruba Hinnawi shared the content of the booklet launched by QGBC titled ‘Eco-friendly homes- A guide to a healthier and more sustainable home’.

“An eco-friendly building may cost a little more than traditional buildings – with a maximum increase of two to five percent. This is an initial investment, as there are many things that will be compensated through this initial investment, such as saving on electricity and water bills," Hinnawi explained. “However, this is a purely non-monetary issue, given its impact on our health as individuals, our productivity and our overall performance.”
Hinnawi explained that there are many simple and inexpensive strategies that can be used when constructing buildings to take advantage of all the natural factors surrounding the building, such as sunlight, natural winds, solar panels, or the types of plants that can be grown in the house – all of which can help to reduce temperatures, and thus rationalize energy consumption by reducing heat.

“The ecological and biological system in which we live is fundamental to our existence and our livelihood. If there is any disruption, we will be affected first. Therefore, we must preserve it.”

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