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Majid Al Futtaim pushes sustainability, in talks with tech giants

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has revealed that it is currently in discussions with major technology companies as it expands its sustainability plans for all assets

City Centre Mirdiff was the first mall in 'green mall' in the region.
City Centre Mirdiff was the first mall in 'green mall' in the region.

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has revealed that it is currently in discussions with major technology companies as it expands its sustainability plans for all assets.

The company unveiled an overreaching sustainability strategy in April that will be implemented across all of MAF’s existing and future projects, covering its development, hospitality, and retail businesses.

Speaking to Construction Week, Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, chief sustainability officer at Majid Al Futtaim explained how the company is set to become one of the most sustainable in the region.  

“We came up with a strategy that says we want to enhance people’s lives through sustainable real estate,” Al-Zu’bi said.

The journey, he explained, started more than seven years ago in the properties division, where the era of green building had just begun to pick up pace.

“It started at City Centre Mirdiff, where Majid Al Futtaim embedded sustainable practices to make it the first green mall in the country.”

In fact, the mall at the time became the first in the region to be LEED core and chill Gold certified. “The movement started from there, then MAF hired a full time head of sustainability and it began,” he said.

The strategy is an extensive one, and is set to be implemented in phases over the course of the next couple of years.

“Our net positive strategy is a long term initiative which is implemented in steps,” he said.

“One of the ways we are doing this is by measuring our impact by looking at energy and water efficiency – which we have already started across all our assets in the region.”

The senior official added that a minimum of 7.5% of energy consumed must come from renewables for all new assets being built.

The minimum consumption rate from renewables for existing assists stands at 5%, with all of MAF’s malls now meeting, or exceeding this target.

READ: Majid Al Futtaim inks deal for 70,000m2 lagoon at Tilal Al Ghaf

Mall of the Emirates, for example, is currently achieving an 8% rate, while City Centre Me’aisem and City Centre Al Barsha have hit targets of more than 10% and 12%, respectively.  

“Everything we build must be green, and has to be a minimum of LEED Gold or BREEAM very good.”

BREEAM, or the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

Along with US-based LEED, MAF is using several rating systems to guarantee full certification of every asset within the company’s portfolio.

“Anything we built after 2014 has been LEED certified or its equivalent,” he said. “But our aim is not only to have LEED Gold or Platinum.

“Our target is 2040,” he added. “By 2022, we should have achieved a 37% reduction in water and energy consumption. By 2020, land lord area must be net positive, and by 2040, landlord and tenant area as well.”

The sustainability officer also revealed that the company is in talks with global technology giants and was also one of the first to collaborate with Tesla, implementing charging stations at it malls ahead of competitors.

Al-Zu’bi hinted at future collaborations with Tesla, but did not reveal any more details or concrete plans.

READ: Majid Al Futtaim signs sustainability MoU with UAE ministry

But Al Zu’bi believes the region is still falling behind in one crucial area – research and development (R&D), which is a significant aspect of Majid Al Futtaim’s extensive sustainability plan.

“The technology is not up to speed with our needs, hence we are investing in R&D, and we are talking to [experts].

“As a company, we have so far tried and tested many technologies, but we still need more research and development in this part of the world to give us solutions that work for us [as a region],” he said.

Majid Al Futtaim is currently using a number of technology driven solutions, including the implementation of smart building management systems and green building materials during the construction phase.

“Some worked, and some did not”, Al Zu’bi said, explaining that it is all a part of the process. “But we are still the first company in MENA to commit to such an initiative.”

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Construction Week - Issue 737
Apr 14, 2019