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MEP Conference: Make sustainability the priority

Sustainability should be “at the heart and core of what we do”, KEO Consultants' Darrel Strobel said at the MEP Middle East UAE Conference 2016 in Dubai

Darrel Strobel, managing director, MEP engineering, at KEO International Consultants.
Darrel Strobel, managing director, MEP engineering, at KEO International Consultants.

Sustainability should be “at the heart and core of what we do” to combat climate change, Darrel Strobel, managing director, MEP engineering, at KEO International Consultants told delegates at the MEP Middle East UAE Conference 2016 in Dubai.

Strobel showed several slides of land and sea temperatures having risen at “phenomenal rates” over the years and said that “scientists, engineers most people around the globe are now in agreement that climate change is happening and it’s accelerating if anything”.

He argued that in the Middle East, circumstances such as low oil prices can make it harder for construction professionals to keep sustainability at the forefront of their minds on projects.

“We have our own mini crisis in our part of the world which is a fall in oil price – and this is causing a fall in revenues for governments and that in turn is putting a lot of pressure on our projects and budgets,” he said.

“In that kind of environment it’s actually quite easy to start thinking about what can we do without – and very often that tends to be sustainability. I’m here to encourage you to not let that happen in your projects wherever possible.”

Strobel said that sustainable buildings are actually more cost-effective to clients in the long-run, and in the case of employers, evidence is there to suggest that eco-friendly offices help boost worker productivity.

“Many clients are tied into a myth that sustainability costs more money than not having sustainability. And there’s some very interesting research being done right across the globe that is actually debunking that myth and showing that sustainable design works,” he said. “It reduces operating costs right across the life of the building, and more importantly it makes for a good environment in the office. And a good environment, healthy environment in the office makes us more productive.

“It’s very easy in the market where there’s a lot of fear about the economy to ignore the message of sustainability. I think if we continue to ignore the message, we don’t strive for innovation and excellence in design, we run the risk of increasing risks to our projects and more importantly to the planet.”

One of the practical ways sustainability can be assured on projects is to develop a sustainability vision framework, said Strobel.

“We start to manage energy. There’s lots of clever things that can be done. You’re going to start reducing energy use, you’re reducing carbon emissions, and you’re reducing the impact of global warming on the climate, before adding that indoor comfort is critical to people’s wellbeing given that we spend 90% of our lives in buildings," he said

“Sustainable design has been proven time and time again to produce environments that people like, enjoy being in and keep us healthy. When we are doing all these things we are driving the green economy. It’s not a buzzword. It’s not going to go away, it’s only going to get bigger. So we are all part of this. So if we do the right things, we help drive that.”
 

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