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Energy Retrofitting of the Existing Building Envelope – Jordan GBC Produces Guidelines to Accelerate Greening of Existing Buildings

Water, oxygen and knowledge are the non-metallic golds of life. The Jordan GBC aims to maximize all of these along with other resources to provide for the most comfortable, healthy and happy life possible. At the Jordan GBC, the success stories don’t just come from within the GBC team. Rather, they are created by both our members and Jordanian civilians themselves. The Jordan GBC aims to create a green life for our people and we can only do with with their help. It requires active and whole community engagement that is crucial, yet dangerously overlooked here in Jordan.

The best way to participate in our mission is to become more educated about green living. Through active participation in different initiatives such as World Green Building Week, we can create a better understanding of various aspects of green building.

Our initiative is intended to educate about the mechanics of green buildings, the extra costs and, in return, the savings resulting from more efficient energy systems and the effects of green living on the psychological, biological and sociological aspect of any individual’s life.

Energy security is one of the most significant challenges facing Jordan as it imports 96% of its energy resources from neighbouring countries. Reducing the energy use in the building sector will reduce the country’s burdens and ensure its sustainable development, especially in the face of the country’s sudden unplanned population growth. Katz (2007, as cited in EBSCO Sustainability Watch, 2010) states that the existing building sector “is 80 times larger than that of new construction. Retrofitting existing buildings is more economically feasible than constructing new green buildings” (Fan and Xia, 2015).

Existing buildings consume the highest amount of energy in Jordan while their energy performance level is far below the standard of new constructions. This results in problems regarding indoor comfort level and affecting people’s health, psychology and productivity.

In this light, the Jordan GBC has produced a detailed booklet ‘Your Guide to Energy Retrofit of the Existing Building Envelope in Jordan’ which we launched at an event during World Green Building Week, in line with this year’s campaign theme of ‘green homes’. The main target of this project is to fill the gap of knowledge concerning energy retrofitting existing buildings in Jordan by creating referencing material that addresses and focuses on the main pillars of the energy retrofit of the existing building envelope in Jordan.

The target includes firstly, identifying the current building envelope technologies, documenting them through drawings, and calculating their performance for thermal transmittance. Secondly, it includes developing optimal guidelines for retrofitting the main components of building envelopes to be used by building stakeholders, including professionals working in the construction sector and the government, which develops policies on this issue.

In addition, the booklet highlights the importance of paying more attention to retrofits, as they offer a significant potential for reducing energy usage on a countrywide scale and, therefore, reducing GHG emissions. Furthermore, we hope the booklet will help promote the green building movement  in Jordan as a viable business opportunity, by demonstrating facts, figures and success stories.

Developing such guidelines is not only expected to benefit the development of the Jordanian sustainability movement by providing new business opportunities to the green building sector but also the surrounding region. There are also economic benefits which were highlighted by showing numbers on the initial costs and the reduction of operational costs, payback periods, impact on occupants’ health and productivity.

Understanding why it is important to retrofit existing buildings will kick off the community’s effort to move towards a green society. The retrofitting of existing buildings is a realistic, economically smart, and feasible way to enhance buildings not only aesthetically, but for one’s health, as the smallest retrofitting changes reap big results. Simple changes done by retrofitting will inevitably have a positive impact on more than one thing, and the most important impact is one’s improvement in health of body and mind.

As thousands embarked upon the efforts of circulating knowledge to those who don’t always come across information about green initiatives, the Jordan GBC has launched this booklet to show the general public in detail how small changes can make a big difference. An educated conversation between a teacher and a student, a friend and a friend or between family members is how it all begins actively help us create a life of abundance, a life that begins and ends with education. Thus, launching this booklet is in line with the mission of World Green Building Week 2018.

Hala Al-Shooha is Project Coordinator and Zeina Jamaleddine is a volunteer at the Jordan Green Building Council

Below: The launch event for the booklet, attended by His Excellency Nayef H Al-fayez, Minister of the Environment Jordan and WGBW2018 Ambassador for WorldGBC MENA Network (below, right)