Dubai's green building codes need to be enforced

CW panel says policing is essential if new regulations are to be properly established

Saeed Al Abbar (centre) speaking at the UAE Infrastructure Panel, with Nathan Cartwright of GAJ (right)
Saeed Al Abbar (centre) speaking at the UAE Infrastructure Panel, with Nathan Cartwright of GAJ (right)

Dubai's new green building codes need to be properly policed and enforced if they are to stand any chance of success, according to the chairman of Emirates Green Building Council, Saeed Al Abbar.

Al Abbar, who is also a director of Dubai-based building consultancy AESG Middle East, said that Dubai's Municipality has been through around 800-900 designs since it introduced mandatory new Green Building Regulations and Specifications last year, and has been certifying them.

However, he added that the main threat to the effectiveness of these regulations will occur in the coming months as these projects move from the design phase to being delivered on site.

Speaking at Construction Week's UAE Infrastructure Summit, Al Abbar said, "Contractors since the days of the romans have been trying to cut corners and rip off the client.

"Policing construction is really the challenge.It will be the make or break for how successful these controls are."

He made the point that designs can be checked for accuracy at any stage, but without frequent checks on site to see if building systems are compliant then within a matter of weeks they can be buried behind walls or under floors.

Nathan Cartwright, head of MEP design at architectural practice Godwin Austen Johnson, added, "It's something we're going to learn about over the next year or two as the projects are developed."

He believed that the introduction of the new code had to be mandatory to have an impact, and said that after a gradual introduction - the codes had been in use since 2011 for public buildings - Dubai "was certainly ready for it.

"A lot of it is not particularly onerous," he said.

He said that all buildings with a cooling load of more than 1MW, which typicaly equate to those with an area of around 5,000m2, are required to have an infiltration test to check for air tightness.

"The buildings will need to achieve an infiltration rate of 10m3/hr/m2 or less, Contractors will not be able to construct leaky buildings anymore which pump energy straight out of the window.”

Jehan Panthaki, a senior manager at PwC, said that contractors "will have to pick their game up" in terms of supervising construction and maintenance work. He pointed out that there was "no competitive disadvantage" to this, as all contractors have to deliver to the same standards.

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