Evolution of landscaping, pool maintenance markets

fmME explores the latest developments within the landscaping and pool maintenance markets

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, FM, FmME, Landscaping, Maintenance, Pools

Despite the recent downturn across the GCC market, brought on by declining oil & gas prices at the start of 2016, the region’s construction market remains active with projects aplenty. These include infrastructure developments, such as Etihad Rail, UAE’s national freight and passenger railway network, as well as high-profile developments like the Lusail City project in Qatar and the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia.

The increasing number of high-rise and community developments have however, introduced a new challenge within the landscaping market, where the conservation of green space is quickly becoming critical.

More than simply pushing for the creation of additional parks and greenery, the discipline of landscaping has evolved to include asset maintenance and a range of sustainable practices. These include the adoption of water conservation techniques such as the utilisation of grey water, conversion of waste into fertilizer, as well as adoption of eco-friendly materials in outdoor design.

One particular trend that is expected to gain momentum within the market is that of green roofs, a modern roofing technology that utilises gardening on a building’s façade. The concept was previously introduced to the UAE back in 2008, when the Dubai Municipality launched its Green Roofs Initiative aimed at applying green roofs across government buildings in the Emirate.

Commenting in a recent statment on sustainability and vertical landscaping, Brad Hariharan, regional director, Expotrade Middle East, shared: “While green roofs as a concept has gained gradual acceptance globally, there is still immense opportunity and scope for it to gather momentum in the Middle East.”

He added: “The fact that green roofs and vegetated walls provide a plethora of environmental, ecological and economic benefits to the urban areas cannot be ignored.”

Green roofs have already seen some adoption within the commercial and residential sectors of the UAE, as well as handful of hotels and academic institutions. In addition to offering aesthetic value, green roofing provide a number of benefits that aid in a building’s operation.

These vertical gardens help in purifying urban environments by collating and breaking down air pollutants, while also serving as natural cooling for the structure, protecting it from solar radiation. This in turn will lead to less dependence on ventilation systems and a reduction in energy consumption.

Commenting as part of an interview conducted by Expotrade ahead of the Middle East Smart Landscape Summit 2016, Leonardo Alvarez, discipline leader and design principal at Perkins+Will, shared his own insights on how he believed the landscaping market is evolving.

“Urban design and landscape are more important now than ever. With more of our global population moving to urban centres across the world, the quality of our cities impacts more people than ever before,” commented Alvarez.

The 35-year industry veteran went on to elaborate on the importance of urban design to the health and happiness of people. It is believed that an aesthetically pleasing structure can have a profound positive impact on both occupants and passer-by. There is also the financial impact to consider as well.

“There is also a financial imperative when considering landscape architecture—green infrastructure is less expensive than grey infrastructure and outdoor places are typically less expensive than indoor ones to build and certainly to operate,” Alvarez said.

“We need to allocate more funds to a quality public realm that people will use. As one anonymous quote put it ‘Landscape architecture is the 5% that makes the 50% difference’.”

Demand for reduced operational expenses and the adoption of sustainable practices has also translated nicely into the realm of pool maintenance. While these can be simple as utilising solar energy to heat pools or deploying a windbreak to reduce evaporation and retain energy, architects involved with pool construction and renovation, are now having to consider maintenance from the ground up.

“To be capable of proposing comprehensive specifications spanning all aspects, architects must acquire a high level of knowledge concerning both construction and fitting out techniques,” explained Jacques Allard, president of the Archi-Europe Group, the European professional network for architects.

Commenting in a release from Piscine Global, the global exhibition for the swimming pool and spa sector, Allard pointed out that, “many architects do not receive specific training on pools, either during their studies or at the beginning of their career, and pool fitters and manufacturers rue this deficiency as they need this knowhow more and more often.”

By receiving additional training, particularly through, “major industrial groups specialising in various technical fields”, architects will be better equipped to design projects with exceptional aesthetic properties, while also adhering to the latest technical and environmental regulation.

“We have often noticed that as soon as industrial groups set up tailor-made training courses, architects become capable of handling specifications and incorporating the latest technologies, and these are often showcased at the Piscine Global exhibition,” added Jacques Allard.

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