Towards a greener UAE

Creating sustainable cities of the future

Saeed Al Abbar is the chairman of Emirates Green Building Council
Saeed Al Abbar is the chairman of Emirates Green Building Council

The UAE is at the forefront of creating sustainable cities for the future, with several world leading government programmes to drive sustainable development.

In recent years, the UAE has laid a strong foundation for sustainable development through outstanding programs and initiatives such as the UAE Green Economy vision, the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy and Estidama.

These have been complemented by exemplary projects such as Masdar City, the Shams 1 solar power station and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

Dubai has further underlined the importance it places on sustainable growth with one of the core themes of World Expo 2020 being sustainability, while the Dubai Plan 2021 envisions the development of a ‘smart and sustainable city’ with a focus on efficient use of resources. The UAE is also focusing on transit-oriented developments (TOD), which enhance mobility between residential and commercial sectors that have long-term beneficial impacts on the environment.

A green economy is facilitated when the commercial and financial sector is focused on producing, importing, exporting and re-exporting green technologies and products.

From an urban development perspective, this translates to obtaining and prioritising sustainable products for the construction, development and retrofitting of new and existing buildings. The support of local authorities will further contribute to educating the market on the importance of integrating sustainability considerations in their projects.

In Dubai, there are 120,000 buildings of which 30,000 have been identified as having high energy saving potential. In order to tackle making them greener in an effective manner, it is fundamental that we take a holistic approach that reaches out to all stakeholders across the industry supply chain.

A facilities manager can only contribute so much to promoting the sustainability of buildings without the support of many other industry players, including energy efficiency equipment manufacturers and vendors, contractors and energy service companies (ESCOs). Furthermore, the energy efficiency market continues to be fragmented; this makes the process of identifying partners to push an energy efficiency project forward an arduous task.

As an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has identified a set of challenges that the multiple players involved in promoting the sustainability of existing buildings face when choosing the right partners for their projects.

As a response to these identified challenges, EmiratesGBC has launched an Energy Efficiency Programme, which serves as an energy efficiency database and collaboration platform that compiles the expertise of our corporate members who provide services or materials that are related to energy efficiency. Through the ‘EmiratesGBC Energy Efficiency Programme’ (EEP), EmiratesGBC will act as an intermediary and a bridge that networks the private sector for participation in future energy efficiency projects.

The platform will serve as a referral point for all energy-efficiency projects, but this is just the first step of many on EmiratesGBC’s journey to promote the energy efficiency sector.

As the programme turns into a functioning online database later this year, to which all EmiratesGBC members will have access, we are confident that it will bring numerous benefits to industries by streamlining the energy efficiency market, unifying key stakeholders and simultaneously boosting company market reach as well as bringing in financial opportunities.

The programme highlights our commitment to raising awareness of the importance of green buildings and energy efficiency and also in promoting positive action directed to help the UAE in its aim to be ranked first globally on the environmental scale by 2017.

About the author
Saeed Al Abbar is the chairman of Emirates Green Building Council.

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