A student and graduates environment club is formed at BZU
As part of the EmpusT events, implemented by the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering at BZU, in terms of forming a student and graduates Environment Club, which held on 25 January 2011 a lecture by Engineer Khalid al-Sabawi, entitled: "Geothermal Heating and Cooling in Palestine - Success, Challenges, Potential."
Since 1980, energy consumption in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has grown faster than any other region in the world. The MENA region's energy intensity (energy consumption divided by GDP) is 40% higher than the world average. The situation in Palestine is no better. Today, Palestinians pay the highest energy prices in the entire Middle East and North Africa. In addition, Palestinians are experiencing population growth rates that are amongst the highest in the world, 3.99% in Gaza and 2.9% in the West Bank. Palestine has no sources of natural energy and is completely dependent on the Israeli occupation for supply. With the objective of alleviating the energy problems faced in Palestine, for the last three years, Union Construction and Investment (UCI) has invested heavily, through its subsidiary, MENA Geothermal, in the implementation and development of sustainable urban development and geothermal heating and cooling technology. In 2007 MENA Geothermal installed the first geothermal system in the energy efficient model home of the Etihad Subdivision, which resulted in outstanding annual energy savings of 70% and a simple payback period of 4.5 years. The success of the first geothermal system won international praise and resulted in the installation of the award winning first commercial geothermal system in the region at the UCI's 4,600 m2 Headquarters Building in Ramallah. Combined with the dedicated time, effort, and resources spent on educating the Palestinian market, MENA Geothermal created real-life examples of financially feasible, replicable, and energy efficient buildings. MENA Geothermal's expansion outside of Palestine was finally realized when MENA Geothermal was awarded the contract to install a massive 1.6 MW geothermal system at the University of Madaba in Jordan, the largest geothermal system in the region, expected to save 200,000 kWh of electricity, 100,000 liters of diesel fuel, and 310 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Finally, MENA Geothermal was recently awarded a grant by the United States Trade and Development Agency to study the feasibility of installing a district geothermal system for the 522 unit Kober Affordable Housing Development near Ramallah. Only through sustainable urban development, the incorporation of energy efficiency measures, and affordable renewable energy can a sustainable economy and true affordable housing for Palestine be achieved.