Academics at the University of East London (UEL) have secured a substantial research grant to support the sustainable development of homes and commercial buildings in Egypt.
The research project is to be delivered in partnership with Cardiff University and Ain Shams University, Egypt, to ensure that the Arab Spring turns into a ‘green spring’ as the country continues to develop economically.
Dr Heba Elsharkawy, a UEL senior lecturer in architectural design technology, and Professor Hassan Abdalla, Dean of UEL’s School of Architecture, Computing, and Engineering, both originate from Egypt and said they were looking forward to bringing sustainable principles to the development of their former homeland.
“We want it to be an influential initiative to meet the social and economic demands of modern Egypt,” said Dr Elsharkawy.
“We’re also looking to deliver practical and online training programmes and facilitate job opportunities for the benefit of vulnerable groups.”
The project, which has just begun, is expected to last two years and includes research-informed training programmes and two major conferences. It is being funded by a £288,572 grant from the British Council.
As part of the project, a state-of-the-art environmental laboratory will be established at UEL. It will include a weather station, ultrasonic anemometers to measure wind speed, thermal imaging cameras, temperature and humidity data loggers, a carbon dioxide measurement device and a full experiment set for energy generation, storage and supply.
Dr Elsharkawy said she hoped the work would help bridge the gap between the rapid advancements in research and training around sustainable development, and the professional development required in Egypt’s construction labour market. It is hoped that both will contribute to Egypt’s plans for economic improvement.
The UEL project comes at a time when Egypt is proving fertile ground for investment in sustainability. The country’s constitution lays down environmental protection as a national duty, and makes safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly housing a right of citizens.
We want it to be an influential initiative to meet the social and economic demands of modern Egypt
With 93 million inhabitants, it is the Middle East and North Africa region’s most populated country, with a need for affordable and sustainable buildings and houses to match.
Its capital, Cairo, is home to an estimated 12 million people, making it one of the densest cities in the world. However, around 96 percent of Egyptians live on just four percent of the land, mainly along the river Nile, which provides 95 percent of Egypt’s water resources.
In January 2009, the Egyptian Green Building Council was formed, bringing together national and international bodies, government ministers, NGOs, businesses, and major contractors. Six years later, on March 13 2015, Egyptian Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced a £30 billion project to build a new ‘green’ city near Cairo for up to five million people housed 1.1 million homes.
A total of 660 hospitals, 1,250 mosques and churches, and a theme park four times the size of Disneyland are also planned.
Egypt is no stranger to sustainable building. From the world famous Giza Pyramids to the Coptic and Islamic architecture of Cairo and other cities along the Nile, Egypt is home to ancient and modern examples or climate responsive and sustainable construction reflecting local needs, traditions, and materials.