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Emirates Green Building Council has first congress

EGBC chairman Adnan Sharafi: Sustainability our greatest challenge

Adnan Sharafi, chairman of Emirates Green Building Council
Adnan Sharafi, chairman of Emirates Green Building Council

Sustainability is the greatest challenge facing mankind, says Adnan Sharafi, chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC).

Speaking at the launch of the EGBC’s first ever congress on Tuesday in Dubai, entitled Innovations in Sustainability, Sharafi told delegates that over the past few years the UAE has witnessed a growing awareness in the need for sustainable buildings.

“We are a nation that loves to take up challenges to achieve our agenda. Our history bears witness to that. Our geography, with hardly any rainfall, freshwater streams, high temperatures and highly aggressive environment, posses a major challenge to sustainable living," he said. 

"In fact, sustainability is the greatest challenge facing the whole of mankind. Given the UAE’s environmental and geo-political situation, success here would mean a success for mankind.”

The EGBC was formed in 2006 after Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed issued the first decree on green buildings. And earlier this year, the UAE’s leaders announced that the country would push towards becoming a green economy.

Sharafi said the most obvious issue for the EGBC to tackle first was that of existing buildings, given their high energy consumption.

“With expenditures in buildings and operations being the largest part of our economy, it would only make sense to tackle this one first to ensure that they are going to be sustainable for future generations.”

He pointed to several slides which illustrated how the UAE’s energy consumption was higher than some developed countries.

For instance, one showed that the UAE’s energy distribution in buildings was 80% of its total usage - exactly double the worldwide average.

But he also gave examples of innovations in energy conservation such as the Dubai Chamber of Commerce building, which has managed to drop its electricity and water usage by 48% and 77% respectively through implementing green measures.

Sharafi said it would be very easy and cost-effective for existing buildings to reduce energy usage by 25% and there is even room to reach 70% in efficiency savings. This can be achieved, he said, by measuring performance and producing data from which to better inform decision-makers.

“We believe that the greatest challenges and opportunities lie in existing builds which form the big bulk of our assets, and we must work hard to make sure that these buildings consume less energy and water so that we can save money, energy and water for future generations," he said.

"This will also allow us to jumpstart our green economy, which is now the policy, by creating demand for innovative products, knowledge-based services and new jobs. And to do that we have to collaborate with industry, government and academia.

“We are determined to be sustainable. And with the help of the Almighty, wisdom of our leaders and hardwork of our people, we will be sustainable."

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Construction Week - Issue 730
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