Beacon for the Environment: Porter School Building Inaugurated
In a milestone for sustainable construction in Israel, the Porter School of Environmental Studies Building was inaugurated at a gala event during the 2014 Board of Governors Meeting of Tel Aviv University. The iconic building is located to the east of the campus overlooking the Ayalon freeway, Israel’s busiest thoroughfare.
The building is the vision of TAU benefactor and Governor Dame Shirley Porter, the Porter family of Israel and the UK, and the Porter Foundation, who have championed the project for the past 13 years. Dame Shirley founded the Porter School of Environmental Studies in 2000 to deepen knowledge and train a new environmental leadership in Israel. Since then, it has become Israel’s leading school in Israel dedicated to research, teaching and policy studies in the environmental field.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the presence of Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog, Head of the Labor Party and a TAU alumnus, and Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Ron Huldai. Dame Shirley and four generations of the Porter family were also joined by TAU President Joseph Klafter and senior University officials; Head of the Porter School Prof. Dan Rabinowitz; Professional Director of the School Dr. Arie Nesher,; past heads of the Porter School; and members of the Board of Governors.
Saluting Dame Shirley’s resolve, TAU President Joseph Klafter told her, “You are a natural born leader and you have led us to this exhilarating moment when we can proudly say, ‘Our Porter Environmental Studies School and Building will serve as a model for the world.’”
Dame Shirley said, "Sometimes this project has felt like a combination between the Titanic and Chariots of Fire! I thank Mayor Huldai for always making things work and President Klafter for being such a forward-thinking man. We look forward to the future with great enthusiasm."
Pictured: Dame Shirley Porter cutting the ribbon at the inauguration of the Porter School of Environmental Studies Building, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Also pictured are Israeli Opposition Leader, Isaac Herzog (far left), and Tel Aviv-Yafo mayor, Ron Huldai (second from left).
Prof. Rabinowitz noted that the School’s 150 master’s students and 60 PhD candidates are “men and women with extraordinary commitment and considerable experience in the environmental field. They belong to a generation that sees sustainability, the environment, social justice and our common future on this planet as one and the same.”
He revealed that, in addition to its existing graduate programs, the School would be introducing undergraduate level programs in the near future. Another new feature will be the Center for Innovative Transportation Technology, to be run in conjunction with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
The Porter Building provides an ultramodern space for teaching, multidisciplinary research, exhibitions, conferences, and demonstrations of environmental technologies. The innovative structure, designed to maximize the efficient use of energy, water, cool air and materials, qualifies for LEED Platinum certification, the highest accreditation of the US Green Building Council, as well as for the top grade of the five-star Israeli green building code.
The building incorporates hybrid thermal solar power and solar collectors; water recycling; natural ventilation; bioclimatic design; and use of recycled and environmentally-friendly construction materials, among other features. The Atrium, a soaring, three-story glassed-in lobby and exhibition space, offers extraordinary views of Tel Aviv and beyond. The multi- purpose, 300 sq. m. space features monitors displaying a live feed of the building's energy, carbon and water consumption data, as well as novel environmental research findings.
The Capsule Meeting Room is a unique, executive-style meeting room for seminars and workshops. The visually-striking structure is suspended over the atrium and serves as the central element of the EcoWall – the eastern façade of the building. The outside of the capsule is covered with a computer-controlled network of LED bulbs, enabling public display of environmental information such as energy statistics of the Porter Building and pollution levels in Tel Aviv.
The building will be part of Tel Aviv University's ecological campus, and was designed by Alexrod-Grobman Architects, Geotectura Studio and NCArchitects and landscaped by Braudo-Maoz Landscape Architects.