World Bank, Kabul brings green building to Afghanistan as its LEED Earth recipient

Sumner Byrne

As Afghanistan’s first LEED-certified building, World Bank Group, Kabul joins the ranks of pioneering green building leaders around the world under the LEED Earth campaign.

LEED Earth is a campaign that offers certification at no cost to the first project and first LEED v4 or v4.1 Platinum project to earn LEED in the countries where the rating system is still emerging. Through these projects’ leadership, they bring more sustainable and thoughtful construction in emerging markets. An already established leader in the green building community, The World Bank Group has constructed LEED-certified projects that span the globe, but rarely in places as highly sensitive as their Kabul, Afghanistan location. Yet from the beginning, the World Bank team took concentrated, strategic efforts to implement sustainable practices across their campus with the help of En3 Sustainability Solutions, a sustainable design and engineering consulting firm. Due to the highly sensitive and risk-prone zone that the Bank was constructed in, the project team faced limited travel due to security concerns, inaccessibility of building materials, and minimal understanding from local contractors and vendors of the LEED certification process or its requirements. In spite of these challenges, the World Bank project team and the En3 team led by Ms. Deepa Sathiaram, a LEED Fellow, were determined to pursue LEED and make this building a landmark project in the region that future developments could emulate. Water plays an integral part in the greening process of all the projects undertaken by the World Bank Group, and was a key target for the arid Afghani landscape. To conserve this limited resource, the Kabul project reduced potable water use by more than 45% through low flow devices, and installed a sewage treatment plant onsite to treat the remaining grey and black water generated, in order to recycle it for flushing and irrigation purposes. The Bank turned its focus inward to become energy efficient as well as water efficient, using reflective materials on the roof and high performance glazing to keep the building and its occupants cooler. High efficiency HVAC and lighting systems, along with onsite solar photovoltaic system, kept energy costs low for the organization. The Kabul project also focused on reducing employees’ transportation footprint by building in an area with good public transportation access, adding secure parking for bicycles and carpooling vehicles, and equipping the parking lot with electric vehicle charging stations. All of the car parking spaces were covered to reduce heat islands and improve the efficiency of the area. With creative, efficient decisions like this, World Bank, Kabul became Afghanistan’s first LEED project with a LEED Gold certification under LEED BD+C NC v2009. Its LEED Earth Award is a demonstration of the project’s commitment to go beyond usual business and create a building that will serve as an example for future buildings in Afghanistan to look up to and follow. LEED Earth offers projects in countries where LEED is still emerging a chance to become that pioneer. As USGBC works towards bringing the environmental and human health benefits of green buildings to all, LEED Earth recipients put that into practice across the world by building spaces that raise the quality of life for their occupants. Check to see if your own nation is eligible to get started today.

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