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Morocco to give 600 mosques a green makeover

Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.

If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.

Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is underwriting the innovative scheme, paying up to 70% of the initial investment costs in a partnership with the German government.

Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said: “We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”

Morocco has established itself as a regional climate leader with high-profile projects, ranging from the largest windfarm in Africa to an enormous solar power plant in the Sahara desert, which opened earlier this year.

In November, Marrakech will host the COP22 climate summit to discuss preparations for implementing the Paris climate agreement.

The country’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate, shortly before an Islamic declaration on climate change last year.

“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” she said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.”

The new green mosques project plans to do this with established technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes. By training electricians, technicians and auditors, it hopes to direct Morocco’s clean energy along the path followed by German’s Energiewende, (energy transition).

But Kuntze stressed that Germany was offering technological support, rather than financial opportunities for its own industries.

“We are not representing any German business interests at all,” he said. “The good thing about this project is that the Moroccan government came up with the idea themselves. It is something new and really innovative and it has not been tried anywhere else before, to my knowledge.”

The initiative has broken new ground for gender equality in Morocco too. Many mourchidates (female clerics) have been involved in the project, as well as imams, and about a quarter of the participants in recent seminars have been women, Kuntze said.

Under the project’s energy service contract model, contractors will eventually be paid by the energy savings generated from the clean power systems they install. As the renovations should cut the mosques’ electricity usage by 40%, these should be substantial.

The first 100 mosques to get a green makeover are mostly based in big population centres – such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca – but the project will quickly move on to smaller villages and towns. With 15,000 mosques dotted around the north African country, the idea’s growth potential is clear.

The objective was to kickstart a renovations industry for sustainable companies that could employ many Moroccans in the clean energy sector, Kuntze said.
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Source: theguardian


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Hisense implements several sustainability initiatives locally

Hisense, a manufacturer of premium consumer electronics and home appliances, is focusing its attention on increasing its green credentials in an attempt to decrease carbon emissions, increase recycling, and creating a closed loop system at their high tech manufacturing facility  in Atlantis, Western Cape.

Hisense has always looked for ways to contribute positively toward the environment. The business places an importance on creating products that are energy efficient and which lead the way in green technology. In addition to this, the business looks at ways in which its operations can be more sustainable.

Recycling systems have been put in place to contribute to the bottom line including the environment, strategic initiatives have been implemented to recycle discarded cardboard, bubble-wrap, polystyrene, plastic, foam and other materials.

Ebrahim Khan, Deputy General Manager, Manufacturing Group at Hisense South Africa, says, “When we launched our new manufacturing facility in Atlantis in 2013, we ensured that energy efficiency is part of the core of the products being manufactured at the facility. Sustainability and greening are so important to us that our launch was a green event.  Our close collaboration with Bluemoon and Earth Patrol produced a carbon neutral event called ‘Living Legacy’ that proved the industry and sustainability are on par.”

From planting 190 indigenous trees to offset carbon emissions, to using LED lighting, to implementing recycling programmes, initiatives were put in practice throughout the operation aimed at reducing the company’s environmental footprint.

From January – September 2014, Hisense collected 655,780kg of recyclable materials, and saved a total of 2,790,378kg of carbon emissions. Recyclables now heavily outweigh general waste and the figure is improving on a monthly basis – in September, 10,680kg of general wastes vs. 79,954kg of recyclables.  Carbon emissions in January measured 154,955kg, and in September, 324,522kg was reported, and landfill volumes have more than tripled too.

To put this into perspective, 2,790,378kg of carbon emissions is equivalent to:

  • The annual greenhouse gas emissions from 587 passenger vehicles or;
  • The carbon dioxide emissions from burning 1,359 tons of coal or;
  • The carbon sequestered by 71,548 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

“Hisense’s future plan centres on a process of implementing a zero-waste to landfill strategy, which is currently in its testing phase. The plan will be implemented in 2015,” explains Khan.

Hisense has made the most of the opportunity to run a sustainable business, and is fully conscious about the environment in which it operates.

Source: Cape Business News