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EG23_GE_Egypt GBC_Dr Salah El Haggar

EGYPT - Green Economy

Dr Salah Al Haggar

President & Co-founder, Egypt GBC

Bio

Dr. Haggar’s 30 years experience in Energy and sustainable development Consulting and University teaching. Dr Haggar has been a visiting professor at Washington State University and at University of Idaho, U.S.A. He is presently the professor of Energy and Sustainable Development – Mechanical Engineering Department at the American University in Cairo. He has 28 Academic Honors, grants and awards. Dr. El-Haggar received the outstanding teaching award from AUC in 1995 as well as an Excellence in research and creative endeavours awards in 2009. In 2012, Dr. El-Haggar received Provost Award in recognition of the innovations in Environmental science and engineering as well as distinguished service award of 25 years of services at AUC. In addition Dr. El-Haggar has 220 Scientific Publications in Environmental, Sustainable Development and Energy Fields, 53 invited presentation, 57 technical report, 16 books, 15 Book chapter.

"All sustainable buildings are green but not all green buildings are sustainable, because sustainability has to be cost effective."
Dr Salah Al Haggar, President & Co-founder of Egypt GBC, about green building, sustainability, and the future of construction.
How did you come up with idea of establishing the Egypt GBC, and what are the basic principles of green building?

The idea of green buildings started in 2005 before we moved to the new Cairo campus. It started as part of a course in the old campus to teach students about green buildings, their benefits, and what the savings in terms of resources. Green building is the future. In 2012, we started an NGO with my students under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Solidarity of Egypt. We seek to promote the concept of green building all over the country. Since 2012, my co-founders and I have worked on an Egyptian rating system called Tarsheed. Our belief is that every country should have its own green building rating system for different reasons. For example, in order to implement the rating system of the US, builders require building materials from the US, which completely goes against the concept of sustainability and also results in huge amounts of emissions due to transportation. Therefore, we decided to develop our own rating system and our own criteria that not only includes saving water and energy but also reducing greenhouse gases. We also seek to make the rating system cost effective and ensure it eventually improves the quality of indoor and outdoor environments.

What is the main difference between sustainability and green building?

All sustainable buildings are green but not all green buildings are sustainable, because sustainability has to be cost effective. When it comes to saving energy, green buildings can save energy up to 50% from either using energy-saving devices such as LED lights or properly insulating the building envelop with high-performance glass windows. It is simple to design a building that uses less energy compared to traditional buildings.

Given the numerous benefits of green buildings, why is there still a hesitancy among some to adopt them?

We are under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Solidarity and are a member of the World Green Building Council (WGBC), meaning we are the official representative of Egypt in WGBC. WGBC comprises of 77 councils from all over the world with more than 100 rating systems. Many in developed countries are aware of the benefits of green building; however, in Egypt there is the misconception that green buildings are expensive or take longer to implement, which is why it has not fully taken off yet. During the pandemic, we worked to promote the concept of green buildings and sustainability by holding over 20 webinars. We strongly believe sustainability will solve all problems and make a strong contribution toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the US, there are more than 2 million green buildings as well as more than 200,000 green building experts, which means this creates many job opportunities as well. We have had this program for seven years, though when we sought to develop a program to educate people here in cooperation with the American University in Cairo, we were only able to reach 350 green building experts. Therefore, it is extremely important that we continue to promote sustainability and green building not only in terms of saving energy and water but also job opportunities, improving our health and well-being, and, most importantly, conserving our natural resources. I have visited the administrative capital several times. If this capital was planned with green building practices from the beginning, it could have been completed a year ago; however, the problem lies in dealing with the construction and demolition waste. One of the key issues of green building is waste management, with certain prerequisites and credits. If any of them are not met, the project cannot receive its green building rating. Most green buildings rating system have four levels—certified, silver, gold, and platinum—depending on the number of credits the project receives. One of the prerequisites of green building is solid waste management, with a number of credits being related to the recycling of solid waste generated onsite. My company manages a number of megaprojects in the country, and there are all well managed in terms of waste management. All waste is collected, sorted, and managed with a recycling contractor. Another aspect of green building is recycling because 100% of all materials used in construction sites can be utilized to produce bricks and other materials. Saving these materials will help reduce greenhouse gases.

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