Sustainability and ‘Green Building’ in the MENA

Sustainability practices within the confines of the built environment can not only generate decent earnings, but they can also reduce costs and manage risks whilst help grow civil responsibility behaviour.

Could there realistically be sustainability practices in construction all as advocated by an increasingly greater number of, as it were, its firm believers.

The issue here is rather whether sustainability can be monetised and therefore used as incentive for all purposes of a better future.

First let us see what this is all about in the MENA construction industry.

More and more consultants and / or consulting companies are finding that sustainability is opening a door to new businesses in the Middle East where authorities aware of the implications due to the absence of regulatory legislation are introducing compulsory building regulations.

First outlay costs and running costs savings

In a nutshell, a well oriented, sized and insulated building stands to make less use of HVAC up to 50%.  Sensible design coupled with ‘local’ materials with deliberate reduction of VOC, avoidance of waste, reduction of building footprint could bring in even more savings.  Extensive usage of passive shading, greenery, up-to-date HVAC technology and BMS for monitoring and control of all the above are vital in compounding the benefits.   Clean water saving and grey water recycling give benefits of up to 30%.  LED and CFL lighting should add more benefits.

Intangible costs

Healthy living atmosphere resulting from the above will certainly be accompanied by further benefits in terms of reduction of social and health wellness related costs.

Positive actions with regards to means of transportation and infrastructural arrangements would complete the sustainability philosophy.

Consultants will have to more and more view a building project in its entirety meaning cost it accordingly; i.e. throughout its life.

Life-cycle analysis and costing is of paramount importance and should be exercised for operations of development whether great or small in the MENA region.

Burj Khalifa

Incomplete Master-piece

The Green Building concept in the GCC has yet to perhaps be taken seriously into consideration as illustrated by the situation in Dubai that could best be described by that of the world’s tallest Burj Khalifa Tower building.

A complex structure that required in order to culminate at that height, no less than the cutting edge of the latest engineering and technological knowledge and good practice.

That did unfortunately not include the tower’s waste water disposal that instead had to be ‘trucked’ away to a treatment plant because it is surprisingly not connected to the city’s network.

Why do we always blame less prominent master-works when those that should lead by example fall so short.