Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Gaza Strip & The Shameless Israeli : The Historic Wrong in Palestine

The state of Israel came into existence 60 years ago on 14 May 1948.  In the months before and after this declaration, around 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.  Over 500 villages were emptied of their Palestinian population and most of them were destroyed so that those expelled had no homes to return to.

Anybody who doubts that ethnic cleansing took place on this scale should read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe.  In it, he describes Plan Dalet (D in Hebrew), which set out the areas to be cleansed and the methods to be employed by Zionist forces in carrying out the cleansing.  Here is a sample of the latter:

These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centres which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them.  In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.”

The plan was approved by the Zionist leadership on 10 March 1948, and put into operation immediately.

*  *  *  *

The Zionist movement to establish a homeland for Jews in Palestine began in Europe in the late 19th century, when Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire.  It was given impetus by the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which stated that Britain viewed with favour “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and undertook to use its “best endeavours” to bring it about.  The Declaration also made the incompatible commitment that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.  At that time, the “existing non-Jewish communities” constituted around 90% of the population.

During World War IBritain also promised to recognise an Arab state in the Middle East, in exchange for Arab assistance in overthrowing Ottoman rule.  However, Britain made a conflicting agreement with France - the Sykes-Picot Agreement - for joint control of the Middle East.  So, instead of the promised Arab state, Britain and France balkanised the Middle East into a series of states under their control.  Britain was granted a mandate to administer Palestine by the newly formed League of Nations.  The mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration’s commitment to a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

Under British rule, the Jewish colonisation of Palestine gathered pace and by the mid 1930s Jews made up nearly 30% of the population compared with around 10% twenty years earlier.  As the unlimited extent of the colonisation became evident, Arab opposition rose and led to the Arab Revolt from 1936-39, in which around 5,000 Arabs, and 400 Jews, were killed.

In 1937, the Peel Commission set up by Britain proposed for the first time the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state.  Arab opposition led to the proposal being dropped and to Britainseverely restricting further Jewish immigration into Palestine in 1939.  This restriction continued throughout World War II at a time when Jews were desperate to escape Nazi persecution in Europe.

In 1947, Britain announced its intention to give up the mandate and to withdraw from Palestine on 15 May 1948.  The newly formed UN set up a commission which recommended another partition scheme.  This was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in resolution 181 passed on 29 November 1947 by 33 votes to 10, despite the opposition of the Palestinians and all Arab states.  It is worth noting that, unlike UN Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not binding on UN member states.

The partition plan divided Palestine into three parts.  It was extraordinarily generous to the Jews, who at the time made up about a third of the population and owned less than 6% of the total land.  Despite this, the partition plan allocated almost 56% of the land to a Jewish state, in an area in which there were about 500,000 Jews but also 440,000 Arabs.  On 42% of the land, 800,000+ Arabs were to have a state with a small Jewish minority (10,000) and a small area around Jerusalem was to be under international control.

The Zionist leadership accepted the partition plan publicly, but with the clear intention of working against it, understandably so, since it was impossible to establish a Jewish state in an area where nearly 50% of the population was Arab.  “Transfer” of Arabs was necessary in order to establish a viable Jewish state.  That’s what happened in the months before and after the declaration of the state of Israel in May 1948.  The territory allocated to the Jewish state was expanded to include more than 78% of mandate Palestine and around 750,000 Palestinians were expelled into the rest of Palestine and the surrounding Arab states, where they and their descendants live today.  That is how a viable Jewish state was established in Palestine in 1948.

*  *  *  *  *

The transfer of the Arab population out of Palestine was on the agenda of the Zionist movement from an early stage - since its presence got in the way of the establishment of a Jewish state.  One of the movement’s liberal thinkers, Leo Motzkin, put it this way in 1917:

Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions: Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel outside the country.  The transfer of so many Arabs may seem at first unacceptable economically, but is nonetheless practical. It does not require too much money to resettle a Palestinian village on another land.” (The Motzkin Book, p 164)

David Ben-Gurion was the leader of the Zionist movement from the mid 1920s and the first Prime Minister of Israel.  He told a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive on 12 June 1938:

I am for compulsory transfer.  I see nothing immoral in it.”

It should be said that Zionist leaders were not alone in denying the Palestinians’ right to live in the land of Palestine.  Here is an extract from evidence by a famous Briton to the Peel Commission in 1937:

I do not agree that the dog in a manger [the Palestinians] has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race, has come in and taken their place.”

The author was Winston Churchill.  In his eyes, the native peoples of America and Australia, and Palestine, were lesser breeds, whose “place” could be taken over by superior breeds.

*  *  *  *

The Zionist project did not stop at the 1949 armistice line, the so-called Green Line.  Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has occupied the rest of mandate Palestine – the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – and continued its colonising mission in these areas.  Today, there are nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers on confiscated Arab land in the Occupied Territories.

Israel has ignored Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease colonising the Occupied Territories.  Colonising occupied territory is contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, paragraph 6 of which states:

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Shamefully, the Security Council has not taken any enforcement action – economic sanctions, for example – to compel Israel to implement these resolutions.  This is in stark contrast to the Security Council’s action in respect of, for example, Iraq and Iran.

(Israel is in violation of over 30 Security Council resolutions that require action by it alone, for example, resolutions 252, 267, 271 and 298 that require it to reverse its annexation of East Jerusalem, resolution 487 that calls upon it to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA supervision, resolution 497 demands that Israel reverse its annexation of the Golan Heights that belong to Syria, as well as resolutions 446, 452 and 465 that demand it cease settlement building.  The Security Council has taken no enforcement action in respect of any of these.)

*  *  *  *

The Zionist colonisation of Palestine, undertaken with the support of the West, has brought endless suffering to the Arab people of Palestine and deprived them of the enjoyment of their land.  Had it not been for the Zionist colonisation, there would be no conflict in Palestine.  Yet, remarkably, the colonisers are constantly portrayed in the Western media as the victims of Palestinian aggression.

A settlement in Palestine requires a recognition that an historic wrong has been done to the Arab people of Palestine and that appropriate redress has to be made.

David Morrison
The Village Magazine
May 2008

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Establishment of 'Air House' Standard in Tropical Countries : Final Part

Conclusions and Recommendations

Design Issues

As a conclusion, there are some design issues discovered in traditional Malay houses and social housing (Table 42). According to research, materials that are used in Malay houses are more practical and reliable for releasing heat readily, compared to high thermal capacity materials such as bricks and concrete in social housing. These high thermal materials store heat and cause uncomfortably high temperatures at night.

The unplanned kampong environment does not block the wind; thus the entire neighbourhood receives a good quality of fresh air. Externally, in modern housing large blocks and long terraces create barriers and air pockets, while internally, the complicated wall arrangements in modern housing block air movement, which leads to an uncomfortable thermal condition.

In a traditional Malay house, full-length openings are located at body level, while in modern housing the openings are smaller and only concentrate on the upper part of the body. Therefore, the cross ventilation process often fails in modern housing. Overhangs are important in opening components because they can provide shade for the walls from sun radiation, glare and rainfall. This key element is always neglected in modern housing.

For religious reasons, the orientation of a traditional Malay house normally faces Mecca or an east-to-west direction. This orientation, by coincidence, can reduce the external wall that faces direct sunlight. However, in modern housing, this orientation is not emphasized for profit motives. Moreover, the internal space arrangement in a traditional Malay house uses a front-to-back order where the serambi is the first area, followed by the rumah ibu and dapur. This arrangement preserves the privacy level of a Malay family and contributes to neighbourhood enhancement.

The results of the analysis of Malay houses and People’s Housing Project (PHP 2000) show that the performance of air temperature and relative humidity in both cases were not significantly different. However, for internal and external air ventilation, the traditional Malay houses recorded 1450.3 l/s (1.45m/s) compared to just only 31.7 l/s (0.03m/s) for PHP 2000. The massive amount of air ventilation in Malay houses contributes to a better performance of the house thermally and economically.

The theoretical model has been developed and tested. The model has been improved according to the architectural and construction issues found in an actual PHP 2000. One of the major improvements is the proportionate rule of layout unit. Instead of a long and narrow layout, the theoretical model has a longer and wider layout where the external wall area is longer than PHP 2000; this promotes massive airflow in, out and across the house through the opening components.

Using the results obtained in part 7 and 8, a standard called Air House has been defined. This standard is totally focused on natural ventilation strategies, in which air is designed to flow across the house compound. Meanwhile, in Passivhaus, the design is more about airtightness and isolation of heat within the house compound. The establishment of Air House could perhaps be a new beginning for Malaysian architecture and its tropical region.

The hot temperature and high humidity climate in Malaysia encourages the use of an air conditioning system as the primary option to cool the house. Nowadays, this is the standard practice in Malaysia. An effort should be made to rectify this situation. The theoretical model that has been developed proves that there is a possible way to achieve the right thermal comfort by using passive methods in social housing. Therefore, this study answers the problem posed at the beginning of the study.

Recommendations of Building Regulations in Malaysia

Upon completion of the study, it can be deduced that there is a huge gap between the traditional approach and modern housing. One of the reasons for this situation is the inappropriate regulations and standards being used in Malaysia. Therefore, some improvements and revisions should be made in order to meet the current challenges, as some of the regulations are not compatible with Malaysia’s climate and culture (see Table 43).

In clauses 32, 33, 34 and 35 of UBBL part III (space, light and ventilation), open spaces must be provided in residential building compounds. However, the categories listed are only related to buildings abutting a street, a back lane and a detached building; there is no category relating to linked units abutting a corridor in a multi-storey building. According to the research findings, a common space in front of the main entrance is an important element in building a good, responsible society. Therefore, in theoretical model (TM), foyer space is provided to serve as interaction space as well as storage area. Thus, an improvement that can be compatible with local culture and the basic needs of the people should be made.

Clause 39 (1) states that residential buildings shall be provided with natural lighting and natural ventilation. The openings area is not less than 10% of floor area. For an example that follows the minimum requirement, a living/dining area in TM that has 19.6 square metres will have an area of window opening of less than 2.0 square meters. Based on the research findings, this percentage is too small for an opening to allow air movement. As TM has been proven to provide good air movement, clause 39 (1) should be revised to a new and more suitable percentage of opening area that is compatible with Malaysia’s climate.

In order to achieve thermal comfort through air movement, a large opening at the external and internal wall should be made. Therefore, 15% to 20% of external openings are required on an external wall for achieving suitable amount of air movement. Moreover, an opening at a high level of wall should be placed to allow ventilation and air change processes.

The window openings are suggested to be placed at body level range and must be 15% to 20% of a room’s external wall. For internal partitions, fixed louvers could be placed on the top part of the partition to allow air transfer from room to room.

Moreover, in clause 42 (2), the minimum kitchen area in UBBL is 4.5 square metres and the minimum width is 1.5 metres. This measurement is still small and leads to insufficient space area. Therefore, the kitchen area should be revised to be at least 8.0 square metres and 2.0 metres minimum in width.

Finally, in clause 44 (1), the minimum height of a living room is 2.5 metres, while a kitchen is 2.25 metres. These heights are considered low and less efficient to promote air movement; thus, the minimum of 3.5 metres, as in TM’s design, should be used in this clause.

The Air House concept that focuses on natural ventilation in residential buildings has proven it can reduce 86% of carbon emission and 74.3% of energy consumption compared to standard practice. The Air House concept has brought sustainable design in Malaysia to a new level of achievement; therefore, it should be explored and expanded in greater detail in the future. Among other study areas in Air House that can be further defined are:

• The appropriateness of use of lightweight building materials in the tropics;
• Percentage proportion of openings in accordance with the building height;
• Wind catcher strategies in Air House design to promote cross ventilation; and
• Strategies in preventing sound pollution in Air House design.

Thermal comfort is one of the basic needs. However, in urban areas, thermal comfort becomes more crucial as houses are constructed in multi-level format with compact design. The concept of Air House could perhaps provide a new dimension in the design of comfortable and sustainable housing in the future.

Researched and written by Mohd Firrdhaus Mohd Sahabuddin; co-founder of 'Air House' and this article was a part of his dissertation which titled 'Traditional Values and Their Adaptation in Social Housing Design: Towards A New Typology and Establishment of ‘Air House’ Standard in Malaysia' for MSc. Advanced Sustainable Design in The University of Edinburgh. Copyright 2012. 


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The Establishment of 'Air House' Standard in Tropical Countries : Part 8

The Establishment of ‘Air House’ Standard in Malaysia

From Passivhaus to ‘Air House’

In Europe, Passivhaus (Passive House) standard has been established to achieve the most suitable thermal comfort condition in a building during winter and summer. According to Audenaert, et al. (2008), ‘passive house is a type of low-energy building; design is oriented to make maximum exploitation of passive technologies, assuring a comfortable indoor climate during summer and winter without needing any conventional heating or cooling system’. The passive house concept focuses on airtight insulation that can prevent air infiltration and retain heat in the building. Its aim is to achieve 10 times less heat energy than the same standard designed building (Feist, et al., 2005). Table 33 shows the Passivhaus standard that has to be achieved in order to claim Passivhaus certification in the United Kingdom.

Table 34 shows the common construction criteria for Passivhaus standard, which involves a high level of insulation on the walls, floors and roofs; a continuous air tightness layer on the window frames; high thermal mass materials and thermal bridge-free construction; and a mechanical ventilation system with a high efficiency heat recovery. The Passivhaus standard can help to reduce 80% of carbon reductions as a legislative target for the UK Government (Passivhaus Trust, 2012).

Inspired by the Passivhaus concept, there is a need for a design standard to be established in Malaysia (or perhaps in the tropical region) for designing a building that can achieve a balanced thermal comfort by using natural resources such as solar and wind without dependence on mechanical equipment.

In a tropical country, air temperature, relative humidity and air movement are all vital factors in achieving a good level of comfort. With high temperatures day and night, and high humidity throughout the year, a building design that can channel the heat out is very important. Air movement through large opening areas is the key element in achieving thermal comfort in Malaysia.

The air movement is suggested to be between 0.15 to 5.4 m/s, which can be defined as a standard. Moreover, low thermal mass materials (lightweight) are the best option for this kind of climate condition as they do not retain heat and release it readily. The house that has met this standard could be called ‘Air House’.

Initial Concept of ‘Air House’

In order to reduce carbon emission and energy consumption of a building, especially in social housing, the use of natural resources such as solar radiation and wind is particularly valuable. A wise use of natural resources has been adopted in the design of a Malay house with balanced temperatures day and night, preferable humidity and large volumes of air movement in and out.

Thus, the theoretical model that has been developed and tested has achieved the Air House standard equivalent to a traditional Malay house. This Air House standard produces cross ventilation by allowing a suitable amount of air movement inside the building through some percentage of external opening area. This standard should be defined, and the thermal comfort results from the Malay houses and TM cases in Tables 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 are the most suitable and valid parameters to be used as the Air House standard.

The main findings from the results are:

• The mean air temperature in Malay houses and TM ranges from 25.2 0C to 27.2 0C (Table 35). This range can be considered the best air temperature in a naturally ventilated building in Malaysia.

• The minimum relative humidity in Malay houses and TM ranges from 30% to 60% (Table 36). This range is achievable and therefore can be considered the preferred humidity range in a naturally ventilated building.

• The mean internal ventilation in Malay houses and TM cases (except the dapur and serambi) ranges from 0.15 to 0.4 m/s (150.0 to 400.0 l/s) (Table 37). Meanwhile, the external ventilation in Malay houses and TM (except the dapur) ranges from 0.30 to 1.45 m/s (300.0 to 1450.0 l/s) (Table 38). Thus, the preferred range of air ventilation in a naturally ventilated building is 0.30 to 1.50 m/s.

• The external opening area in a Malay house is 15% to 20% (table 39), while in TM, the opening areas on the walls facing outside (open space) is 25% and the wall facing inside (corridor) is about 50%. These percentages could be the best configuration of opening percentage in a naturally ventilated building.

• The best carbon emission for a naturally ventilated building is 2571 kgC02/year, and the energy consumption should not be more than 5.1963 MWh/year.

The findings listed above are the initial parameters than can be used as the first Air House standard in Malaysia.

‘Air House’ Standard for Naturally Ventilated Building in Malaysia

Based on all the results defined in Malay houses and theoretical models, the proposed Air House design standard is listed in Table 40. The air temperature ranges from 250C to 270C. The relative humidity for ‘Air House’ is 30% to 60%. Meanwhile, the air movement is between 0.30 to 1.50 m/s. The total energy consumption for Air House standard is less than 5.0 MWh/year and less than 2500 kgC02/year for carbon emission.

Table 41 shows the design parameters for a naturally ventilated building in Malaysia. 15% to 25% of an opening area is recommended for an external wall that faces an open space, while for a wall covered by shade or facing another block, 25% to 50% of an opening area is recommended. As higher altitude provides higher velocity, the units located on the eleventh floor and above should have a smaller opening area than units on the first to tenth floors. Furthermore, to promote air movement and cross ventilation, the four components of opening in Air House that should be implemented are bottom louvers, windows, top louvers and high louvers. The proportionate rule of these openings is 2x : 2x : 1x : 1x relatively, as shown in Figure 65.

Moreover, the unit plan layout should be in proportion of 1.5x for walls parallel to the corridor, and 1x for walls perpendicular to the corridor (Figure 65). To provide shade from sun radiation and rainfall, the minimum overhang recommended is 0.6 metres, while to promote better air circulation around the building, breaks between units are recommended. In terms of material selection, Air House standard uses prefabricated, lightweight and low thermal mass materials for the walls, floor and roof components.

Researched and written by Mohd Firrdhaus Mohd Sahabuddin; co-founder of 'Air House' and this article was a part of his dissertation which titled 'Traditional Values and Their Adaptation in Social Housing Design: Towards A New Typology and Establishment of ‘Air House’ Standard in Malaysia' for MSc. Advanced Sustainable Design in The University of Edinburgh. Copyright 2012. 

The Establishment of 'Air House' Standard in Tropical Countries : Part 7

Performance Comparison of Theoretical Model (TM) and PHP 2000

Indoor Air Temperature

Referring to Table 28, the mean temperatures for both cases in TM are slightly higher than PHP 2000 by 0.3 0C. Moreover, the maximum temperatures in TM are higher than PHP 2000 with a difference of 3.7 0C, and the minimum air temperature in TM and PHP 2000 differ by 1.8 0C.

Fondriest Environmental (2012) suggests that when gas molecules move quickly, air temperature will increase and affect other weather parameters such as the rate of evaporation, relative humidity, wind speed and direction. The indoor air temperature is proportional to outside air temperature; therefore, large external openings and louvers that allow air movement into internal spaces contribute to the high temperatures in TM, especially during the day. However, these large openings help to decrease the temperature in TM significantly at night, as suggested by Saini (1970). The best level of temperature is 25.5 0C to 28.0 0C (Hassan & Ramli, 2010). Therefore, the mean and minimum air temperatures in TM are categorized as preferred temperatures.

Relative Humidity

Table 29 displays the results on relative humidity in PHP 2000 and TM. The mean relative humidity in the kitchen area for both cases in TM is slightly lower than that in PHP 2000. The maximum relative humidity results in TM’s cases are 4.8% higher than the PHP 2000 cases. Meanwhile, for minimum relative humidity, the cases in PHP 2000 recorded higher humidity than TM’s cases.

The difference in minimum relative humidity for TM and PHP 2000 is 14.7%. The recommended level of indoor humidity in Malaysia is in the range of 30% to 60%; thus, only results for minimum temperature in all cases are within the recommended level.

The high humidity can only affect the comfort level in a room where the air movement is too low (Saini, 1970). Therefore, the crucial variable that contributes to a good thermal comfort in a building in a tropical climate is air movement.

Internal and External Ventilation

Table 30 shows the internal ventilation results in PHP 2000 and TM. The mean internal ventilation for cases in TM showed an increase compared to cases in PHP 2000, except the kitchen area in case 5. However, there was a significant increase in TM cases for maximum internal ventilation, which ranges from 720.3 l/s to 1273.7 l/s, compared to just 293.2 l/s to 413.3 l/s in PHP 2000.

As has been suggested by Hassan and Ramli (2010), the Beaufort scale has set the best levels of performance for the wind speed range from 1600.0 to 5400.0 m/s (1.6 to 5.4 m/s). Thus, the internal ventilation in TM has better results than PHP 2000.

Based on Table 31, the TM cases had recorded numerous results with the highest mean of 544.7 l/s, compared to the results in the PHP 2000 cases, which were less than 40.0 l/s. In TM, both cases recorded high air movement for maximum external ventilation ranging from 2160.1 l/s to 5331.5 l/s (2.1 to 5.3 m/s), compared to lower results in PHP 2000.

From the results, TM has achieved the better level of wind speed. Therefore, the results have proved that TM has a better thermal comfort than PHP 2000. Figure 61 shows the days of minimum and maximum internal ventilation for the first floor level in TM, where cross ventilation has functioned properly through its openings.

Figure 62 shows the days of minimum and maximum external ventilation in TM for the tenth floor unit, where the amount of air movement increases compared to first floor unit. The increment of air movement for the tenth floor unit is 36% more than the first floor unit; each floor receives an increase of 3.6% of air movement. As the tenth floor unit receives the maximum level of preferred air movement of 5.4 m/s, the opening areas for the eleventh floor and above should be reduced gradually to maintain the preferred level of air movement.

From the tables and figures discussed, it can be concluded that the longitudinal plan layout that has long external walls receives a higher volume of air; the volume increases as the altitude increases. The placement of the windows and louvers opposite one another in TM cases produces air changes inside the building equal to that of a Malay house.

Carbon Emission and Energy Consumption

Table 32 shows that numerous decreases of energy consumption and carbon emission happened in TM. TM’s carbon emission has reduced by 86%, and its energy consumption decreased by 74.3% compared to PHP 2000 (air conditioned). It can be deduced that an air conditioning system is the biggest culprit for producing high-energy usage in residential buildings in Malaysia. The results proved that the natural ventilation concept used in the building has a tremendous influence on economical and environmental effects. This natural ventilation method can contribute to massive energy savings for the country as well. These results show that TM’s design is practical, environmental friendly and economical.

Researched and written by Mohd Firrdhaus Mohd Sahabuddin; co-founder of 'Air House' and this article was a part of his dissertation which titled 'Traditional Values and Their Adaptation in Social Housing Design: Towards A New Typology and Establishment of ‘Air House’ Standard in Malaysia' for MSc. Advanced Sustainable Design in The University of Edinburgh. Copyright 2012.