The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is set to become the world’s largest environment-friendly legislature building in the world.

“The Green Knesset Project will be a source of pride for Israel and will inspire other countries,” National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Minister Silvan Shalom stated. “Encouraging energy efficiency, saving electricity and advancing the use of natural gas and renewable energy will reduce pollution, preserve the environment and save a lot of money.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that the “Green Knesset” Project is the brainchild of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Knesset Director-General Ronen Plott, “who aim, over several years, to convert the Knesset into a house of parliament that runs on energy-saving – and, therefore, money-saving – principles.”

According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs announcement, there will be many contributors to this initiative, including Members of Knesset, Knesset employees, the Knesset’s Green Forum, environmental and social organizations, “as well as all the citizens of Israel, who have the right to express their opinion on how the Knesset is run.”

The Green Knesset Project “will consist of numerous activities, including educating MKs and Knesset employees on sustainability, publishing position papers on the issue, launching projects that will make the Knesset a more sustainable place and, finally, making the everyday operational activities in the Knesset more sustainable,” the MFA said.

Although roughly NIS 7 million will be invested in the initial phases in 2014-2015, “the Knesset examined the financial viability of all the projects and found that they will return the investment within about five years, on average,” the MFA explained.

“Moreover, the saving of energy will reduce the level of carbon emissions from the Knesset and thus make the Knesset’s ecological footprint smaller. The yearly savings are estimated at NIS 1 million.”

The sum of the savings will be transferred to a “Green Fund,” which will be designated for the continuation of the ‘Green Knesset’ project and for the benefit of the employees.

“At a time when my office is leading an environmental revolution in industry and in the residents’ homes, the symbol of the country must become a leading element in the green revolution, because it is the Knesset’s duty to protect the next generations, and protecting the environment is the way to do it,” Environment Protection Minister Amir Peretz declared.

Naor Yerushalmi, head of Life and Environment, the Israeli union of environmental NGOs, told the Post:

“It’s a symbolic event, and it’s a historic event. The Knesset is a highlight of democracy and of civil life, and when the Knesset is going green, the country is going green.”

Author: United with Israel staff
Date: Jan. 5, 2014