UAE. Amid a more assertive drive from GCC governments to implement green building codes on all construction and infrastructure projects, industry experts foresee these output methods as a short-term reality that will complement growing economic opportunities, with the UAE leading the trend in the region.
Holley Chant, Corporate Sustainability Director at KEO International Consultants, and a speaker at the Infrastructure ARABIA Summit, explains: “I am confident that within less than five years every market in the GCC will have sustainability-related regulations. This started in the UAE, then Qatar, and now all other GCC countries are showing signs of implementation of policies that can be classified as sustainable regulations.”
Chant will discuss the extent to which these sustainable agendas have been transformed by recent economic conditions at the four-day Infrastructure ARABIA Summit at WORLD ecoConstruct, the pioneering construction and infrastructure event taking place from 22-25 April 2012 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
“Since mid-2009, nearly every building Request for Proposal (RFP) that KEO has responded to has some form of sustainability requirement scoped in it. During project design, an integrated design team can feasibly validate energy savings of 20 to 50 per cent over a baseline building of energy use, depending on how ambitious the project is.”
Chant believes that to achieve these benefits, sustainability goals must be embraced throughout design development and through to construction. “What is critical to maintain those savings is the sustainable energy strategy of the design during operation. The end user must also have well trained facilities management staff who understand how to make a building perform as it was designed and commissioned to.”
Tim Risbridger, Head of Transportation, Middle East at EC Harris, agrees that the Middle East is showing increased commitment to sustainability efforts and foresees this development going hand-in-hand with higher levels of opportunity in the region: “Since the global economic crisis, governments are using infrastructure, among other measures, to encourage investment and stimulate growth.
“Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have commenced massive infrastructure investment programmes and the region as a whole is upgrading infrastructure and making significant investment. These measures ensure that significant opportunities throughout the region continue to be present.”
Addressing the benefits of green building standards also being imposed by governments, Risbridger states: “Sustainable construction practice is a long-term commitment, but while moving to these methods will likely incur initial costs, the investment will bring both short and long-term savings which will increase profitability.”
WORLD ecoConstruct is a crucial collaboration between Abu Dhabi’s two leading building and construction events, CityBuild and Arabian Construction Week, and will take place to provide a crucial sourcing and knowledge platform for the billions of dollars committed to major projects within Abu Dhabi and the surrounding region.
With recent research valuing 2012 infrastructure projects alone (including roads, bridges, rail, sewerage, wastewater and marine) at US$187.2 billion, construction companies are increasingly looking to obtain opportunities being provided to those with a commitment toward sustainable building practices.
WORLD ecoConstruct is set to attract more than 30,000 visitors and will be the centre of attention when industry heavyweights gather to learn how best to capitalise on innovative and sustainable construction later this month.
WORLD ecoConstruct is supported by its Foundation Partner, the Department of Municipal Affairs, Sustainable Knowledge Partner Masdar City, Strategic Partner Emirates Green Building Council, Principal Sponsor Emirates Steel, Platinum Sponsor Rajhi Steel, and is endorsed by the UAE Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Photo: Holley Chant, Corporate Sustainability Director at KEO International Consultants