Is the grass always greener?

Khaled Bushnaq, managing director, Energy Management Services (EMS), is pro-green buildings and explains the benefits they can bring.

Steadily rising on the horizon is a critical element in structural development taking its place as the new construction buzzword in this rapidly advancing metropolis.

The 'green concept' is sweeping across all sectors, marshalling a collective force that will fuel this new stage of development. Typical of how Dubai has ascended to the heights of success, the impetus to this new approach has been government support which has resulted in plans to implement within the year a widely anticipated green building rating system patterned after the US Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) rating.

For the uninitiated, the green concept, referring to the creation of buildings that have minimum impact on the environment and conserve the maximum amount of energy, may be considered as a voluntary initiative largely because of cost implications.

However, as many of the region's leading property developers will attest, this is simply not the case. The truth is, apart from helping protect the environment, the green concept has also become an excellent economic booster. While there may be technologies and equipment required to develop an environmentally sound project, the long-term advantages outweigh the initial outlay.

Another misconception is that creating a green building is full of complexities. In contrast, many of the steps towards achieving green building status are actually uncomplicated and they include efforts as easy as maximising the use of direct or indirect sunlight in lieu of electric lights.

Nowadays, it is not hard to find evidence of the changing attitude towards green development. We can point to one of the most robust growth areas in the country, the hospitality sector, which is witnessing an emergence of eco-friendly hotel chains. Apart from showing support to the environmental cause, these hoteliers are also acting based on economics; the budget hotel segment is widely untapped and its revenue potential can be fully realised by offering mid and low-priced rooms, which is where the green concept plays an important role.

To bring prices down, developers must also bring operations and capital costs down. This can be achieved by adopting energy conservation practices such as using energy efficient light bulbs, optimising natural light, maximising the use of interior spaces, utilising recyclable materials, conserving water and adopting renewable sources of energy.

All reliable indicators suggest that the desire to adopt green solutions will only grow stronger. And now with the government spearheading the drive, it is likely that this campaign will take another twist with the opportunity to build Dubai's image as a model city for green development.

The LEED-based rating system the government wants to implement will be critical to the efforts to promote green development. The rating system will help create benchmarks for performance and sustainability, encouraging developers to build structures that comply with environmental standards.

The first few months of implementing the rating system will be particularly important, especially the six to 12 month trial run the government plans to conduct starting within the year. With proper execution, there is no doubt the country's economy will reap great dividends. More importantly, this program will lay the foundation for a sustainable development and a better future.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020