Green architecture may still be somewhat of a niche in Israel, but the country is making a noteworthy push towards weaving more eco-conscious building techniques into its urban fabric. Did you know that Tel Aviv is home to one of less than 30 LEED Platinum-certified buildings on the planet? Inhabitat was recently given an exclusive look inside the LEED Platinum Porter School of Environmental Studies (PSES) at Tel Aviv University, an ecologically symbiotic facility that has been operating since 2014. Designed by a team of Israeli designers including Geotectura, Axelrod-Grobman Architects and Chen Architects, the impressive structure produces more energy than it consumes and features a state-of-the-art water conservation and solar power system, 100 percent passive cooling, a native plant green roof, an ecological pool, and an incredible floating eco-capsule that serves as a constant reminder for global sustainability.
Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies (PSES) wasn’t interested in achieving the minimum LEED certification — this building lives and breathes a dedication to the planet. In order to be awarded LEED Platinum certification a building must earn at least 80 points, but PSES surpassed this standard by leaps and bounds, completing construction with an impressive 92 points.
The state-of-the-art solar energy system includes solar PVs and tubes that line the facade of the building. Any energy that the building doesn’t use is sent to other buildings at Tel Aviv University. When Inhabitat visited Israel it was upwards of 30 degrees celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and we were astounded by how cool this building felt without any use of mechanical air conditioning. Using computational dynamics simulations, the architects were able to achieve 100 percent passive ventilation using natural airflow through the solar tubes, producing a low and high pressure Venturi effect that provides both heat during the winter and natural cooling in summer.
PSES currently offers an International MA program that is focused on Middle East water issues, climate change, and several other environmental subjects. While Israel may be situated within the world’s most arid climate, you wouldn’t know it by experiencing its lush, verdant landscape. As a leader in conservation, the country reuses 70 percent of its water through water recycling initiatives. The Porter School is a prime example of a serious dedication to water conservation, utilizing an impressive drip irrigation system generated entirely from wastewater recycling. Students are also constantly experimenting with new alternative energy systems that could potentially be used on the PSES building; they are currently testing algal power in a lab that is viewable to passersby.
An ecologically constructed wetland system purifies gray water for the landscape irrigation of a large native plant green roof and plentiful landscaping around the building’s facade. One of the prime goals of the project was to not destroy the original landscape for living creatures around the building. Dr. Joseph Cory, founder of Geotectura, told Inhabitat that he hopes the design “will create a new architectural vocabulary [for Israel] — people will start to ask what you are growing on your building, which is a different state of mind.”
The interior and exterior of the building was completely constructed from local, recycled or renewable materials, including fiber cement, recycled wood, and bamboo. The majority of the exterior is clad with glass panels, providing an ample amount of natural daylight that eliminates any need for artificial lighting during the day. The remainder of the lighting is produced with an efficient LED system.
One of the most captivating aspects of this building’s interior is the floating “Capsule” that hovers over the building’s atrium. Dr. Cory explained that the fascinating addition was designed to serve as both a quiet meeting place and “a constant reminder for the students that we have only one Earth.” He added that “we are living in a western culture that is behaving like we have two or three Mother Earths to take from, but this is not a way to keep on if you want to consider the living of future generations and of course people from other continents that are not living in the western world.”
Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel
Photos by Laura Mordas-Schenkein for Inhabitat