Sustainability is more than just trying to reduce carbon footprint and using green materials in architecture and design, according to Raja Moubarak, co-founder, 2B Design.
2B Design is a Lebanon-based firm which uses salvage from architecture sites meant to be thrown away to create new design objects. It was founded by Moubarak and his wife, French designer Benedicte de Blavous.
Speaking to Commercial Interior Design, Moubarak said sustainability transcends energy conservation measures, lowering carbon footprint or building green buildings. “It also applies to the way you give back to the community, the work conditions of your employees and more.”
He said he, along with his wife, believes sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity, and needs to be incorporated into the DNA of every activity, business and behaviour of individuals.
“Architecture and design are part of that chain; in fact, they come early on. It is a lot easier, more efficient and less costly to start with sustainability in mind when designing a building than having to convert it into a sustainable building later on,” he added.
Giving the example of Gulf countries, he said while simple sustainability measures can be taken, basic awareness and a change of behaviour needs to take place.
“If you take the example of Lebanon and compare it with nearby countries, we see that every single building in Cyprus is equipped with solar panels whereas in Lebanon the practice is far from being widespread. Jordan is also more advanced than Lebanon in the use of solar energy. Perhaps various considerations make sustainability differ from country to country,” said Moubarak.
Moubarak said affluent Gulf countries seem to be more inclined to promote sustainability, whereas elsewhere sustainability is not on the radar screen of governments, companies or individuals. In his opinion, factors like lack of freedom of expression, weak social justice, human rights abuse, authoritarian regimes and economic hardships could have contributed to making sustainability a low priority.
“The Arab spring might herald renewed interest in sustainability as the people of the region start gaining their rights and seeing their needs met. The process will be long however,” he added.
2B Design, as a small social enterprise, is making efforts on its part to raise the level of awareness for the concept of social enterprise and sustainability in Lebanon and the region. It is working working with the American University of Beirut to present its enterprise model to different audiences.
“We hope that some people will be inspired by what we do and will start incorporating the relevant values and behavior into their own activities,” added Moubarak.