Meet Ziad Abi Chaker from Cedar Environmental

Last week we went to WonderEight‘s new offices in Mkalles for a meeting (That’s right, we’re cooking something up!) and fell in love with their small green terrace. Two things caught our attention, and they both turned out to be the work of Ziad Abi Chaker from Cedar Environmental: The E-Room and the green walls.
Ziad is a multi-disciplinary engineer who specializes in building Municipal Recycling Facilities on the communal level going against the trend of a central Mega recycling Plant. He was a speaker at TEDxBeirut in 2011 and spoke for his love for garbage! Check out the video here: http://bit.ly/uNwKJA
He developed the E-Room, which is made entirely out of Cedar Environmental’s Eco-Board®, or 15,000 plastic bags and trash! The result? A beautiful Eco Workshop Room. (pictures here: http://pinterest.com/wondereight/the-eroom-by-w8/)
And together with the founders of WonderEight, they also developed a green vertical wall that totally transforms the terrace into a fresh space!

We talked to Ziad and interviewed him to find out more about what they do.
Meet Lebanon’s firm believer and fighter for a Zero Waste Society.

cedarenv_

© Picture by WonderEight

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© Picture by WonderEight

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© Picture by Beirut Green Project

Hello Ziad! We are interested to know more about Cedar Environmental and the work that you create.

Cedar Environmental is an environmental and industrial engineering organization. Its main mission is to build recycling plant for municipal solid waste on the communal level going against the trend of ONE mega central dump or facility as is the model in most of the world currently.

 What are the main goals of C.E, and what type of challenges do you face?

We aim to cluster as many municipalities/communities as possible and build local recycling plants for them. we try not to exceed the amount of 50 tons per day or a community larger than 100,000 residents. There are mainly 2 main challenges:

1- Finding a land where to erect the facility. No one wants a recycling plant in their neighborhood and this is understandable since the history of recycling plants especially in lebanon has been a major nuisance when it comes to odors or gases emanated.

2- Finding enough municipalities able to pay us for the recycling service rendered.

These 2 main challenges have pushed us technically to research new methods and technologies to eliminate odors from the process and most importantly to reduce to ZERO the remains of untreated waste which would go to a landfill. It is now practically impossible to find a landfill in Lebanon. For the financial part, we have been able to reduce the cost per household per month to about 4 US Dollars. That was also a major accomplishment to make recycling affordable to all municipalities.

Can you tell us a bit more about your main project for the moment?

I am designing the largest recycling plant in the middle east which adopts a ZERO waste policy to Landfill. It will treat 100 tons per day and serve a community of 200,000 residents. This is our flagship project I hope.

We visited WonderEight’s Studios and we fell in love with the work on the green walls. This work shows a successful collaboration between design and recycling. We salute both of you on such great efforts! How did this collaboration start?

The Nasrallah brothers have been long time friends and very keen supporters of the recycling work we do at Cedar. They were very excited about our ECO-BOARD technology which transforms plastic bags & plastic scrap into panel boards. We started fiddling around with some built models and they saw some of our prefab units and decided to acquire one for their new premises. We designed it together and we built it for them.

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© Picture by Beirut Green Project

You also created a workshop room entirely made of recycled material. Is it the first time you take on such a project?

No, we built the first prefab house with a green roof last summer and we showcased in Beirut on the Manara Corniche. People were so curious about it.  Now we are getting more experienced in such buildings and you will soon see other structures made entirely with Ecoboards.

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© Picture by Ziad Abi Chaker

How can someone build a green wall at home? Do you have insider’s tips & links to share with our readers?

For something durable, it is not an easy feat. In our research pipeline we have an idea of a DO-IT-YOURSELF green wall made from Ecoboards. Which you can buy and assemble yourself, IKEA style. The main problem with green walls is a sustainable irrigation system. If your irrigation system shuts down or is hard to maintain, your wall will not be green for long.

Is this also applicable on big buildings? How would you start convincing buildings and corporations to invest and go the extra mile to green their facade? What is the environmental impact of this act if spread around Beirut?

Of course. Actually the main application we see is for large buildings. The number one convincing argument for green roofs and green walls is their insulating effects which reduce your cooling/heating costs considerably, plus they make your building look really nice.

The current problem now is the cost per square meter which ranges from $300 to $600. We are about to finalize a production scheme which would bring the cost per square meter to about $100. When we achieve that, you will see lots of buildings adopting it, then the impact on the Beirut scene will be tremendous especially if we get creative with these walls and roofs like planting aromatic plants or flowering walls…I am now working on making the Cedar Environmental machinery plant in Abou Mizan have Green walls planted with Strawberries.

Finally, what are the good lebanese institutions or NGO’s that you are collaborating with and think they are doing a pretty good work at greening our culture and our country?

There are a lot of NGO’s out there, but their impact is not yet very visible. I think TERRE LIBAN is doing a wonderful job in paper recycling, Arc En Ciel is also doing good work with plastics recycling. I hope we can collaborate with Beirut Green Project in the future on spreading the culture of green roofing or green walling all over Beirut.

Thank you and all the support in what you’re doing!
How about you, do you have an example of other green walls made in Beirut? Share them with us below!

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One Response to Meet Ziad Abi Chaker from Cedar Environmental

  1. Nassib Solh says:

    hello,this is al-amal institute for the disabled – broummana…we launch a campaigne for planting 1200 tree, donated by lebanese agriculture research institute, at our new site in arnoun – s.Lebanon on sat & sun 22 & 23 Feb. We need one stick to force each tree and 3 sticks to put around it so that we turn an iron net on them to defend the young trees from goats & other hazards…also we need to be guided to use a cheap irrigation system at a later stage. we would be greatfull if you can help us in this start../ Nassib Solh/ em:alamalinst@gmail.com/Tel:04-963330/03-424405…. Thanks

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