In Libya the color green is brimming with politics and religion. The Green Revolution laid the basis for The Green Book, the principles of which govern modern Libyan politics.  Green is also symbolic of a devotion to Islam. Libya's green flag is the only national flag consisting of one solid block of color. Now Libya seems to be adopting a new eco-friendly manner and is taking a different approach to "going green".

When it comes to Libyans making radical changes I have always been a skeptic. Returning fresh from a sustainable design program in England a few years ago, I was eager to apply what I learned to a couple of private residential projects in Tripoli, but wasn't taken seriously when I suggested to my clients the use of eco-friendly building materials, double glazed windows and photovoltaics. Libyans do not take to change easily and no one was ready to go back to living in a house made of mud! So naturally, when news that Libya is now enforcing pro-environment planning regulations first came out, I didn't hold my breath. But it seems that this time I may stand to be corrected!

In a country where the price of petrol is cheaper than water, reducing carbon emissions is easier said than done. The Organisation for Development and Administration Centres (ODAC) and the Libyan Company for Planning and Urban Development (LCPUD) have recently announced that they are moving forward with their plans to build Libya's first Zero-Carbon City in Cyrene, designed by renowned  British firm Edward Cullinan Architects.  Plans to build two sustainable university campuses in Bani Walid and Zliten, designed by RMJM, have also been presented to the public in the past year.  Revitalization of the Tripoli Green Belt planting scheme has been taken on by the French Institut d'Amenagement et d'Urbanism. The new gardens along Tripoli's waterfront, and the Souk Talat public park, which is now entering its second stage, are both a part of this scheme.  The recent opening of the Rixos luxury "living hotel", so called as it was built without clearing any trees at its unique location in the Al-Nasr Forest, is yet another testament to Libya's new eco-friendly attitude.

Perhaps my favorite project is the free bicycle rental scheme sponsored in part by the UNDP, which has set up its first shop at the Bab Al-Baher sports club adjacent to the Marcus Aurelius Arch in the Old City. So why not rent a bike this weekend and make your contribution to saving the environment? Bear in mind though that I cannot guarantee your personal safety riding along Tripoli's hectic roads!


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By Sarah Elmusrati

Sunday 3rd October 2010

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