A development among the first in Lebanon to receive BREEAM certification
- Scheme & Version: BREEAM International Bespoke 2010
- Certification Stage: Final
- Rating: Very Good
- Overall Score: 56.1%
- Developer / Client: Ghassan Hajjar
- Architect: Samir Sarrouf
- Constructor: Mr. Ghassan Farah – Landmark engineering
- Assessor Company: EcoConsulting UK Ltd
About the Building
Yarze 1674 residential buildings, is amongst the first projects in Lebanon to achieve a BREEAM certification and the first beneficiary of the Central Bank of Lebanon’s green financing mechanisms.
The Yarze 1674 project consists of four residential buildings of four floors each located in Yarze, Baabda, Lebanon, with a 2400m2 building footprint. The location features green areas amd is in close proximity to the city of Beirut. The apartments offered are of different sizes and distributed across the four buildings.
The project goals were to deliver apartments that are high quality with low utility bills. It was important for the developer to achieve this to distinguish the project from the competition.
The project includes numerous energy efficient features such as LED lighting for internal and external areas and energy efficient lifts. Solar water heaters are provided on the roof to benefit from the suitable Lebanese climate. Split air conditioners, with ODP refrigerants, are specified for cooling and low NOx gas boilers for heating. During construction, the project used solely reclaimed timber and adopted a construction waste management plan that reduced the waste sent to landfills, which is very uncommon in Lebanon.
The environmental impact of the materials used on the project was studied and influenced the choice of the design team. For example, EPA insulation instead of XPS was chosen due to the lower environmental impact. Although the project is located in a greenfield site, an ecologist was hired from the beginning of the project to recommend measures that would decrease the impact of the development on the ecology. Some of the recommendations that were implemented include creating an ecological corner and protecting it from construction activities, as well as transplanting some of the trees to another site. Reducing the night time pollution was also another way to make sure the animals living near the project are not disturbed. The project was a pioneer in installing an on-site sustainable wastewater treatment system and reusing the water for irrigation, which helps reduce pollution from the project as well as the water demand. In parallel, efficient water fixtures and irrigation systems were used. Few projects in Lebanon take into consideration the necessities of wheelchair users. However, Yarze 1674 was able to implement all the requirements of the Lifetime Homes credit in BREEAM, which are much more stringent than the Lebanese building code.
Although dedicating space for recycling storage might not seem like a complicated design issue, it was also an uncommon practice in Lebanon. However, the project was able to initiate the recycling culture with its tenants and anticipate this practice before the big waste crisis that happened in the country in 2015.
Why did the building undergo BREEAM?
BREEAM is one of the world’s leading green building certification schemes that can be trusted to validate the sustainability of buildings. Undergoing a BREEAM assessment, or any other building rating system, is not required in Lebanon. In addition, the Building Code in Lebanon doesn’t include any sustainability features. However, the developer Ghassan Hajjar wanted to build a pioneer sustainable project for the future tenants and benefit from the low-interest green loans offered by the Lebanese central bank by targeting the BREEAM Very Good rating.
This project scored particularly well in the Health and Wellbeing and Transport categories of the BREEAM certification. In fact, many of the credits in the Health and Wellbeing category served one of the goals of improving the quality of the apartments and offering an above-average product such as adaptable homes, sound insulation, adequate private space and daylighting. The location of the project helped it secure many of the transport credits due to its proximity to many amenities and public transport nodes. This is an important factor in Lebanon which suffers from severe traffic that causes high air pollution levels.
BREEAM influenced the choice of materials and products for the building, some of which were not familiar to typical Lebanese construction or even readily available in the Lebanese market. It also influenced the construction site practices which did not take environmental issues into consideration in typical sites. A construction waste management plan was put in place and implemented as well as reused timber. Sustainability in construction and buildings is a very new concept in Lebanon, especially at the time this project was starting. Therefore, implementing the BREEAM requirements was a learning curve for the developer, design team and construction team.
One of the challenges faced by the project was the absence of a connection to the municipal wastewater line. This meant that the project had to find their own way to dispose of the wastewater. BREEAM helped by offering guidelines on how to approach this problem in a sustainable manner and find an eco-friendly solution. The biological wastewater treatment plant not only helped dispose of the project’s sewage in a sustainable matter; it also reduced the water demand of the project by reusing the treated water for irrigation. In parallel, all the landscaping of the site included native or adaptive species that promote local ecology and need less water and resources. In an area such as Yarze which suffers from water scarcity during the summer, this was an innovative and very successful solution.
With regard to the choice of materials, the Lebanese market is still not very open to sustainability and environmental impact issues. This made it difficult to obtain information from suppliers about their products to be able to compare and make a decision. The Green Guide to Specifications was a useful tool that the design team used to be better informed about the environmental impacts of different products or designs.
Benefits of assessing to BREEAM
One of the primary benefits of the BREEAM certification is to offer a third-party assurance of the quality and sustainability of the project. In a culture of greenwashing, where some projects are advertised as being green simply by planting a few trees on site, BREEAM offers a solid tool to prove the green claim. This, as well as the green features of the project, helped in attracting the more environmentally aware customers who appreciate these aspects.
Achieving the BREEAM certification also helped in giving the developer access to a low interest loan provided by the Central Bank of Lebanon. This allowed him to implement more green features and higher quality apartments without increasing the final cost to the customer and remaining competitive in the real estate market.
Although some of the tenants are not particularly environmentally aware or do not put a lot of importance on this issue, they still recognize the higher energy and water efficiency of their apartments. This was observed especially when they communicate with their friends or peers about certain features that are available in the Yarze 1674 project and not in other typical apartments.