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Green building codes to become compulsory countrywide from July 2021

National Planning and Building Council subcommittee decides that codes, introduced on voluntary basis 15 years go, should apply to all construction and renovations

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Illustrative: Construction in Ashdod, March 22, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative: Construction in Ashdod, March 22, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Green building codes introduced on a voluntary basis 15 years ago will become compulsory for all building and renovation, a subcommittee of the National Planning and Building Council decided Thursday.

The regulations, whose gradual implementation will start in July next year, follow the recommendations of an inter-ministerial steering committee headed by the Environmental Protection Ministry which concluded that reduced energy use could save 5.9 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually by 2030.

Israel’s homes, hotels, offices and other buildings are currently responsible for 40 percent of the country’s energy consumption.

The building and regulations subcommittee decision still needs the formal approval of the National Planning Council, which is regarded as all but certain.

Over recent months, Council head Dalit Zilber has talked often about the need to extend the green building regulations to the whole country. To date, they have been adopted by the so-called Forum of 15 cities, most of which are relatively well-heeled and located in the center of the country.

Dalit Zilber, head of the National Planning and Building Council. (Screenshot)

Israel’s green building regulations include 5281 on sustainable building, 5282 on energy ratings and 1045 on thermal insulation

Regulation 5281, for example, deals with subjects such as building materials, water, electricity, waste and innovation and is based on a points system. A one-star building has fulfilled the minimum green requirements, while a five-star one is considered very green.

From July 1 next year, all requests for building permits to construct residential buildings of 10 floors and above as well as offices, hotels, hospitals, schools and other public buildings will have to meet the requirements for one star.

From November 1, 2023, the one-star requirement will extend to buildings of between six units and 10 stories.

From January 2025, all residential buildings of more than 15 stories will have to get up to two stars.

According to the inter-ministerial steering committee’s 63-page report, published in 2017, implementation of the green building codes is likely to add 0.5-1.5 percent to the price of a residential apartment.

But energy-efficient homes will also save an average of NIS 1,000 ($290) per year, thus paying back the additional investment within a few years.

The report set out a detailed roadmap for achieving reductions in energy use, citing everything from sensors for street lights and air-conditioning systems to detect human presence; to energy-efficient light bulbs, double-glazed windows with reflective surfaces, and moves from oil-fired to greener forms of heating; to the need for research, financial incentives and public information campaigns.

It stressed that in years to come, building should be required to reach more than one or two stars.

The Israel Council for Green Building welcomed the announcement, describing it on Facebook as “one of the greatest victories in Israel and the world. Now we’re waiting for the final decision of the National Planning Council. Without doubt, this will be a historic moment!”

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