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Sustainability begins at the design stage

Louis Khoury, sales development manager, Middle East for Autodesk, says sustainable design decisions should be introduced at each step of the design and build process.

COMMENT, Projects

The UAE has urbanised rapidly over a short period. Prominent cities like Dubai have expanded several times their size in comparison with what they used to be, even as recently as the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, Dubai features on the global map of emerging places and is now considered by some experts to be among the "world cities".

The UAE has also been progressing steadily on the path of growth and development over the last three decades, propelled by an oil-rich economy.

In the UAE urban development is a major concern of policymakers, planners, public officials and environmental advocates.

Now, developers have to start exploring sustainable development and green building options in order to maximise both economic and environmental performances.


We have an opportunity, and we believe a responsibility, to promote and encourage widespread adoption of sustainable design principles through the products we create.

Our customers are the millions of architects, engineers, and designers who are creating the built world all around us - from buildings to bridges.

Our job is to provide innovative design tools so that these designers can analyse and surface sustainable options earlier in the design process. We believe global sustainability challenges can be addressed through better design.

Buildings consume about 70% of the world's energy. People often look to transportation when thinking about polluters, but the built environment consumes an enormous amount of natural and financial resources.

We believe sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their needs. And we would like to insert design innovation into this global conversation.

We believe global sustainability challenges can be addressed through better design, implemented throughout the design process.

As a design and visual effects software company, we provide customers with solutions that simplify and encourage sustainable design decisions.

Our software allows for sustainable design decisions to be introduced at each step of the design and build process.

This encourages designers to identify and implement sustainable solutions from the beginning.

This is important as energy use in a building can be reduced by up to 50% by analysing design decisions early.

Autodesk Revit and Integrated Environmental Services software helps analyse overall building energy use and performance (heating and cooling load, day-lighting, thermal mass). Alternatives can be compared and modified for optimal performance.

Building information modelling enables testing and analysis of new and better materials, while also reducing waste.

Recycled and non-traditional materials can be tested in a digital 3-D model to ensure safety and long-lasting performance.

Designers can also use visualization software to show clients how a new design or material will look, thereby reducing risk and re-dos.


At the Bahrain World Trade Centre the sail shaped towers funnel the sea breeze into the three wind turbines to provide a renewable source of energy for the building.

The Masdar Zero Energy City development is a unique, integrated green community in the heart of Abu Dhabi, which uses the traditional planning principles of a walled city, together with existing technologies to achieve a zero-carbon and zero-waste sustainable development.

The new headquarters of Dubaiotech is set to be one of the world's largest green buildings. With two connected buildings oriented to maximise day-lighting and views, while minimising solar gain.

In addition to familiar recycling and car pooling initiatives, our ongoing footprint reduction includes reviewing future real estate decisions for Leed certification, sourcing green power, reducing the amount of printed marketing materials we create, all the way down to the day-to-day use of non-toxic cleaning supplies.

We are partnering with industry leaders, educators and our customers to promote awareness and adoption of sustainable design practices. For example, Autodesk endorses the 2030 Challenge, which seeks to make all buildings carbon-neutral in less than 25 years.


We have a strategic relationship with the US Green Building Council to promote the use of technology into everyday building practices and we have co-developed curriculum on sustainable design which is now being piloted in seven universities.

We also work with governments and communities on sustainable building projects. Autodesk is a member of the China-US Centre for Sustainable Development, which is accelerating the adoption of sustainable design, and encourages collaboration across business, government, education and NGOs.

Locally, we made sure that we extend our full support to the engineering community of the Middle East; we have taken a couple of key initiatives this year to make sure that we extend our full knowledge and support to the engineering community.

If you would like to write for Construction Week in this column, please email

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020