Rehabilitation measures to improve Lebanon’s electricity infrastructure are essential in the medium and long term. In order to realize positive short term impacts, energy demand needs to be reduced. This can accomplished through an energy demand management strategy that promotes energy efficient measures and behavioral change in energy consumption. In addition to a large scale infrastructure strategy (water, sewerage, and electricity), Beirut Madinati developed a strategy that tackles energy demand: Green Building, Energy Conservation.
Construction contributes to 21% of the Lebanese GDP and affects, directly and indirectly, many other sectors. Beirut Madinati’s objective is “a city aware of its ecological footprint, applying state of the art green building and energy conservation practices.” The strategy plans to reduce the impact of construction (air and noise pollution) by promoting environmentally friendly building development practices, reducing energy consumption in new and old buildings and a reduction of energy consumption costs that help business efficiency.
The candidates plan to achieve this by raising awareness of green building strategies in Beirut, offering incentives to builders and developers and lobbying for the adoption of new legislation. If elected, a unit will be established at the municipality that will be tasked with assessing the performance of the buildings in Beirut and will be responsible for all green building-related matters. The municipality building will be refurbished and will serve as a pilot project to promote green buildings in Beirut.
The municipality’s efforts will yield more to alleviate the chronic electricity shortage in the city through such measures, as opposed to tackling energy supply issues. In Lebanon, most of the large scale infrastructure is out of the municipality’s jurisdiction and controlled by central government. The strategy aims to offer incentives and guidelines to developers for the following issues:
- To reduce environmental impacts of building development
- To reduce energy use in construction
- Promote passive designs (to reduce energy consumption at lowest cost)
- To reuse buildings
- To enhance biodiversity
Occupational safety and health during construction is often left out of government policy and would enhance the strategy if included. Incidents whereby laborers were killed or injured at development sites are common in Lebanon as most construction workers do not wear any safety equipment, despite clear legislation requiring it.
Despite the strategy mentioning the objective of reducing noise pollution, no measures are stated on how this will be done. The Ministry of Environment’s Decision 8/1 for 2001 contains permissible noise limits that the municipality should enforce. The municipality needs to be aware of these standards, and if deemed necessary, advocate for new ones. The standards should help contribute to the “healthier living environment” at the core of the Beirut Madinati strategy.
Should they be successful in their campaign, Beirut Madinati candidates would do well to develop and implement a comprehensive monitoring plan for all new developments in the city that ensure construction workers are using the proper safety equipment, noise levels are within legal limits and other regulations (such as energy efficiency laws) are being abided by.