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How up-cycling local materials is improving thermal comfort in homes across Jordan


At the Jordan Green Building Council, we strive to uproot inequality amongst Jordan’s inhabitants in order to guarantee the right to a healthy, sustainable environment for each and every citizen. Through planting seeds of opportunity in the community to overcome barriers, we aim to create an environment of green communities that contain hope and innovation for all. Our Green Affordable Homes project works by both constructing new homes that are environmentally-green and healthy, comfortable homes for the inhabitants and we retrofit existing houses to become more energy efficient and healthier, happier places to live. Through this one-year project, 48 homes have been retrofitted and three new green affordable homes have been built in different areas in Jordan.

The Green Affordable Homes project is carried by Jordan Green Building Council in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development through the Moving Energy Initiative, a partnership to increase sustainable energy access and resilience in refugee-affected areas.

Green retrofitting could turn a house into a home. When a family prefers to spend most of their days outdoors due to the unbearable heat indoors, one can hardly call that house a home. However, by implementing some retrofit changes to the house, the family can now enjoy and experience a home as it should be: comfortable, healthy – and environmentally friendly.

This initiative has given birth to a domino effect throughout the local communities. Through our awareness and education sessions and through training local and refugee builders – thus creating an opportunity for cohesion between locals and Syrian refugees through engagement and involvement in the project activities – we have witnessed a notable change: a greener way of thinking in society. For example, many people were previously unsure of and against the use of solar water heaters and rain water collection systems because such green systems had never previously been popular in many local communities. However, after some awareness-building sessions and then through the implementation and installation of such green concepts and components, many families started witnessing the benefits for themselves. With their conviction won over, they have now begun to spread the word and advise their neighbours to adopt the green concepts for themselves as well!

Jordan GBC sensed the immediate positive response and enthusiasm from the local households to accept the green concepts which led us to introduce an idea for a new initiative for the project: Up-Cycling. By using local resources and skills, we have managed to create shading devices from reused materials, such as replacing steel frames from windows with double glazed windows through the project.

The idea of the up-cycling initiative is to create a product from a combination of our green technical knowledge and initiating an inclusive environment where Syrian refugees and locals can work together and exchange ideas.  By using the available resources and skills they have, the old window frames of the retrofitted homes from the Green Affordable Homes project were used to create the frames of shading devices. Straw, a readily available and a rapidly renewable – and green – material, is normally used in the local community for creating decorative pieces by ladies but here in our Up-Cycling initiative, it was used to create the frame cover for shading.

Caption: Jordan GBC is creatively reusing materials from local handcrafts (below) to create green functional products such as external shading devices for windows (above)


“Straw is a good material to be used in shading devices as it is light and reflects heat since it has a good solar reflectance index. It is also a rapidly renewable material.”

Shading devices as a whole have many benefits that have been highlighted in various studies. A study found that shading devices significantly reduce the energy needs for space cooling and to improve thermal comfort while limiting indoor overheating. Meanwhile, another study found the average percentage of energy saving annually was between 9-12%.

This particular green product leaves much room for improvement, growth and provides opportunities for income generation for both refugee and local communities. Eventually, the improved product can become a green product in the local market that is not only sold to residential buildings but also hotels and businesses. It will also allow space for the community to come together and think of different materials to use, involve different technologies, and conduct various research to come with more creations such as this one.


Initially, we introduced the idea and facilitated the process, but after kicking off this initiative, we are left with an immense anticipation to see how innovative and creative people will get, and how they will work together to create an integrated, sustainable and successful green community.

Aya Rabab’ah is Project Manager for the Green, Affordable Homes project at the Jordan Green Building Council. Zeina Jamaleddine is a Volunteer at the Jordan Green Building Council. 

For more information about Jordan GBC’s Green Affordable Homes project, click here or watch the video below.