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The construction boom and rapid rise of population are putting further stress on these resources. However, there has been some good news.
Green measures by the authorities have resulted in per capita consumption of electricity in Dubai fall by around 4 per cent in 2013 compared to 2010. The rate of water consumption dropped by nearly 10 per cent between 2013 and 2010.
Cara Tissandier, Associate with Hoare Lea, a UAE-based expert on sustainability, gives a lowdown on how effective the green building norms have been towards the efficient utilization of the country’s precious resources.
The introduction of Estidama in Abu Dhabi has caused a fundamental shift in construction practices in the region. It has been successful with measurable improvements being recorded in buildings that have completed the program.
In other parts of the Middle East, we have been working on a number of projects which adhere to the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) norms. But it will be some time before they are operational and we will be able to measure the benefits of GSAS in practice.
Dubai has integrated a set of sustainability requirements within a building code applicable to all new buildings. The requirements marry with LEED, thus simplifying the LEED certification process.
A recent hotel project achieved 75% of the requirements for LEED certification just by applying the Dubai green bldg. regulations.
The Dubai Green Bldg. Code will hopefully encourage more buildings to attain LEED certifications than previously.
The new checks by Dubai Municipality when applying for building and completion permits ensure requirements are verified.
Although currently Estidama is a design and construction rating system, it includes requirements that relate to post-handover such as improved operation and maintenance manuals, re-commissioning, tenant fit-out guidance and owner/occupant handbooks.
Glaring wastage should not be an issue as buildings are now provided with better sub-metering and monitoring equipment.
The operational phase of the Estidama system will be interesting.
Post-handover checks are difficult, particularly in residential buildings, due to access. Post-occupancy surveys should be encouraged along with programs to educate residents on how their behavior impacts efficiency.
Widening the net
I would like to see more focus on existing buildings, including tenant fit-outs and facilities management standards.
Demonstrating financial incentives for the building owners/occupiers whilst improving quality and occupant well-being is the objective.
There are regional resources that complement legalization such as the Middle East Council for Offices’ Good Practice Standard.
Adopting advice such as the MECO Guide will not only lead to more efficient buildings, but also deliver a quality product providing better returns for the developer.
A key challenge for contractors is quality of advice. There are many agents out there that claim to be experts in green bldg. regulations, but many lack the experience required.
Investment in an experienced sustainability manager/advisor will simplify and facilitate the certification process.
Moving away from the mindset of “business as usual” among the stakeholders, contractors and designers is a key challenge.
We cannot use the same solutions as the last decade and expect buildings to be more efficient.
RETURNS FROM GREEN BUILDING
• A Hoare Lea project, the new 4 Pearl Masdar HQ all-glass building set a challenge to achieve the energy and comfort targets set by Estidama and Masdar. The capital costs are higher than “business as usual”; however, the operational costs will be lower and it will offer high levels of user comfort and well-being.
• The 2 Pearl Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, another Hoare Lea project, is a good example of passive solutions actually reducing capital costs. The roof design protects the pitch from the sun at the right time of day and negates the need for a full roof with air conditioning to the pitch and seating area.
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Freehold