Lebanon's ongoing trash calamity has led to the build-up of mountains of rubbish ... which has been problematically solved by the open burning of trash. In addition, the construction of buildings and homes has only added to the waste and further deepened the crisis.
However, in an effort to build the Middle East's first sustainable home, a local project is solving both issues by using the country's waste efficiently.
Lifehaus - founded by Lebanese architect Nizar Haddad - is the first low-cost, fully self-sufficient home designed to reduce waste output as well as lower the carbon footprint by using upcycled and natural materials to do so.
"Lebanon's construction industry is one of the leading factors behind desertification in the country. Entire hills and mountains are being turned into wastelands as demand for conventional buildings continues to rise," Nadine Mazloum, media representative of Lifehaus, told StepFeed.
Lifehaus treats waste as "treasure by incorporating recycled materials in the dwellings."
"For starters, we are using tires for the main walls. All the needed studies – engineering and architecture wise - were conducted to test the wall's sturdiness," Mazloum added.
"Glass bottles as windows"
"We are also using glass bottles as windows to enable natural lighting to permeate the house, cardboard boxes, and many other materials that people usually throw away," Mazloum explained.
In the future, the team at Lifehaus also hopes to experiment with other materials like sawdust and utility poles.
The Lifehaus prototype occupies 130 square meters of space
The construction of the first prototype of the project - located in Baskinta - began during late summer 2017.
It occupies 130 square meters of space and is expandable by 80 square meters. Additionally, it also includes one bedroom, a bathroom, kitchen, living space, a technical room (which allows inhabitants to adjust energy needs), and a greenhouse.
A fully equipped Lifehaus approximately costs the same as a conventional home. However, "since there are no bills to pay, inhabitants get a third of their investment back in around 15 years," Mazloum said.
It relies on renewable sources for sustainability
"In the greenhouse, inhabitants can plant and produce their own food," Mazloum said.
That's not all. The green home is self-sufficient, relying on renewable sources for sustainability.
"Energy needs are met by renewable sources like solar panels and windmills," Mazloum explained.
The home relies on a technique called "Passive Annual Heat Storage", which means the home is designed to heat and cool itself naturally without the use of electricity or fuel.
Residents will never have to worry about paying utility bills
This also means residents will never have to worry about paying utility bills as they will be able to generate their own electricity, grow their own food via a greenhouse as well as reuse pre-collected rainwater or nearby springs.
"With Lebanon being a post-war country, successive governments, since 1990, and up until now, have been and continue to be unable to provide many of the country's citizens with round-the-clock water and electricity – so this got us thinking about ways of going off the grid," Mazloum said.
Also, the composting of organic waste would become a chemical-free fertilizer for the garden.
Lifehaus needs your help!
After completing a portion of the green home, Haddad launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with an aim to raise $30,000.
With the money, the group hopes "to complete the first Lifehaus whose work is ongoing," Mazloum told Stepfeed.
Ultimately, the aim is to build as many Lifehauses as possible in the future.
"The entire reason we put everything into the prototype is to help change the hearts and minds of all skeptics in regards to self-sufficient dwellings that incorporate recyclable, natural and repurposed material in the build."
The entire project acts as an awareness campaign.
It is "a means to help people realize that we can build fully self-sufficient sustainable dwellings that don’t compromise on comfort, that help inhabitants live a healthier life and at the same time don't cost a fortune," Mazloum said.
In 2018, Lifehaus was listed in Forbes' "5 Clean Tech Innovations of the Future" after taking part in Abu Dhabi's World Future Energy Summit, an annual event dedicated to advancing future energy, energy efficiency, and clean technologies.
"Lifehaus as a movement, rather than just a house"
The idea of the Lifehaus was first conceived around 2014, following the country's ever-growing environmental problems.
"Seeing the myriad environmental problems facing our country, architect and founder of the Lifehaus, Nizar Haddad, felt that it was necessary to address these issues in every way possible – starting with the houses we live in," Mazloum said.
As for its name, the people behind the project wanted something that summarizes the project's entire mission without the need for too many words.
"The first half is pretty self-explanatory, as 'life' as we know it is currently under threat from climate change, the 6th major extinction, and wars and conflicts. The second part, 'haus', is German for house, obviously."
"Since we see Lifehaus as a movement rather than just a house, we decided to draw inspiration from Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known simply as Bauhaus, which literally translates to 'construction house'".
If you want to see a more sustainable Lebanon ... now's your chance to help.
Check out Lifehaus' crowdfunding campaign here.