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IFC Helps “Green” Lebanon’s Building Sector

The commercial building sector in Lebanon can go green, thanks to a partnership between the Lebanon Green Building Council and IFC that produced the country's new ARZ Green Building Rating System.

Developed with IFC technical assistance, the new system will help commercial building owners in the country assess their structures' impact on the environment and recommend changes to reduce energy and water waste.

Buildings will be rated either certified, bronze, silver or gold, and it is expected that, once widely adopted, the ARZ rating system will encourage building owners and facility managers to achieve ever-higher certification levels to attract discerning tenants and clients.

Among the first building owners in Lebanon to start the quest for a high ARZ rating is IFC Investment and Advisory Services client BLC Bank, which volunteered its 10-floor, 7,800 m2 headquarters in Beirut for a green building audit to learn about its environmental impact and where improvements could be made.

“We said that if we are really responsible corporate citizens and we want to deliver on what matters, we have start with ourselves,” says Tania Moussallem, BLC's Assistant General Manager and Head of Business Development. “This is when we came into contact with IFC, which had the right technical expertise to do this.”

Moussallem says BLC was impressed with the strong business case for the auditing consultants’ recommendations, and today 80 to 90 percent of those recommended renovations have been implemented at its current headquarters, including new timed bathroom faucets, dual-flush toilets, and a new lighting system. BLC is also rolling out a greening program for all of its branches and its planned new Beirut headquarters will be built to green specifications.

With the audit-based changes to the current BLC headquarters in place, Moussallem says the structure is ready to receive its ARZ rating.

In parallel with the ARZ launch, IFC is also working with several banks in Lebanon to develop financial products so individual and corporate clients can borrow to support sustainable initiatives like solar energy.

“IFC recognizes that Lebanon, like other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, faces serious water and energy challenges,” said Luke Haggarty, IFC Advisory Services Manager for the Middle East and North Africa. “One way we can make a difference is by showing business owners how green initiatives can have a positive impact on their bottom lines.”

IFC’s Lebanon Green Building Project is co-funded by Japan.