AP- In Jordan’s newest retail and leisure hub, the typical high-end boutiques, cinemas and gourmet coffee shops are tucked into an intricate ecosystem of natural heating and cooling, water recycling and hundreds of solar panels soaking up the sun’s rays.
The three-story Abdali Mall is the first large-scale commercial complex in Jordan to be built to strict “green” standards. It is seen as a trailblazer in conserving what resource-poor Jordan lacks most — water and energy. It’s also part of a growing movement to build with local materials.
Going green is vital for Jordan, which spends up to one-fifth of its budget on importing energy and is one of the driest countries in the world.
“This topic is not a luxury for us,” said Ruba Al-Zubi, who heads EDAMA, Arabic for sustainability, a group that promotes environmental practices in Jordan’s private sector. “For us, this is real development. If we want sustainable development, it has to be built on the standards of a green economy.”
The 227,000-square-meter (2.4 million square feet) Abdali Mall is a centerpiece of a new business area in the center of the capital, Amman.
The mall currently houses 25 stores, including Zara and Converse. By the time of the grand opening in October, the complex will also feature nine cinema screens, a food court, a dining plaza and a supermarket, mall management says.
The roof of the mall is a transparent tent measuring 11,000 square meters (118,404 square feet). It is divided into 16 sections supported by steel frames and cables. It is open in some areas, which allows for less electricity use throughout the year and natural ventilation.
Shoppers can enjoy coffee and sweets under palm trees while natural sunlight and a cool breeze welcomes them in every corner of the building. The sound of a waterfall cascading from the first to the ground floor echoes throughout the stores and helps naturally cool the air in the mall.
“When I’m here, when I look up and walk around, I just feel I’m in an open space,” said Ruba Hijazin, while shopping with her family earlier this week. “I’m not shopping in a small box like other malls.”
The complex also features 12 tunnels for natural heating and cooling, with air circulating from the atmosphere underneath the building foundations and back into public spaces in the mall. An irrigation system waters small bushes and palm trees, helping to conserve water.
Hundreds of solar panels circle the perimeter of the roof tent, generating electricity for the building year round. Breakage from 50,000 square meters (538,200 square feet) of tile used in the construction was recycled to insulate the roof and serve as plant mulch.
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