Dubai builders fall foul of green laws

Pending laws governing environmentally friendly buildings could force developers back to drawing board.

Buildings that haven?t started construction may have to be redesigned.
Buildings that haven?t started construction may have to be redesigned.

Some projects may face a redesign to fall in line with new green building standards set to be enforced in January 2008. The new laws are likely to come into sharp focus at this year's Big 5 exhibition.

Under the instruction of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, all buildings in the emirate will have to be constructed according to international green building principles.

According to Mohammed Ali, design department, Dubai Municipality, the main focus will be on the efficient use of energy and the type of materials used in construction. "Not all designs will have to go back to the drawing board, but some may," he said.

"The use of solar power will be a big point, while the type of materials used in buildings will be specified, such as using recycled plastic as and when possible. The use of wood is also going to be discouraged."

The regulations will be implemented in phases, with separate laws for buildings that have already been built, are under construction or are in the design stage. But with only two months left for the industry to align itself with the new standards, developers could face difficulty implementing them.

"It is unlikely that all buildings will be green by 1 January, however those that have not started construction may be subject to some changes," said Colin Hill, technical director of engineering and design consultancy firm, Otak. But some in the industry don't think the changes would affect them too much as the shift towards green building has been in the pipeline for a while.

"I think most contractors are already aware of the imminent changes and know what they have to do and how to do it," said Philippe Dessoy, deputy general manager, Besix. "Redesign, however, could cause problems; it depends on how far the authorities want to go into the redesign process."

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